The fear conundrum
How much fear do we want? Enough of it preserves our lives. Too much of it diminishes our lives. Currently, the balance is skewed by an overload of fear. Anxiety, its clinical name, is in epidemic proportions.
In favour of the measure to monitor social networks, it can be argued that it can significantly improve security agencies’ ability to deal with terrorist organizations. The claim is that intelligence agencies that monitor the networks, in many cases, can protect their territory from terrorist attacks. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), ... Read more
Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism
In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto. It appeared for the first time on a coin in 1864 but did not become official until Congress passed a motion in 1956. A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations. For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy. Read more
Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Sacred Monstrosity’
Flannery O’Connor, who died on 3 August 1964, was a celebrated but divisive author whose stories are notorious for both their violence and their religiosity. Can her work speak to modern readers, or is it necessarily of her time? Michael Kirwan SJ considers this question, with a little help from James Joyce, René Girard and Quentin Tarantino. Read more.
Was Luther an anti-Semite?
Commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation have revived a controversy over anti-semitic writings by Martin Luther. "La Croix" talks to an expert on the issue. Pierre-Olivier Léchot, dean of the Protestant Theology Faculty in Paris, a historian of Christianity in the modern era, unravels a polemic over the vehemently anti-Jewish texts written by Luther, which has resurfaced during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
La Croix: Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed a revival of the polemic over Luther’s alleged “anti-semitism” based on the image of a sow, representing Judaism, on bas-reliefs on a church in Wittenberg. Read more
Finding the high way
In our society ethical questions such as those to do with marriage, crime and punishment, the beginnings and endings of life and freedom of speech are often 'highway' issues. Protagonists establish in advance the right way to go, keep their foot down and their eyes on the road without noticing the terrain the highway traverses. Road signs indicating other destinations or alternative routes are ignored and towns by-passed. Certainty is gained; understanding of country is sacrificed.
Ethical reflection can also be done by taking the tourist route, preferably by bicycle. Read more
Pope Francis appoints Italian biblical scholar as secretary of the C.D.F.
Pope Francis has appointed an Italian biblical scholar, Monsignor Giacomo Morandi, 51, as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and made him archbishop. The Vatican made this announcement today, July 18.
In less than three weeks, Pope Francis has reshuffled the top leadership of the C.D.F. by not renewing the mandate of Cardinal Gerhard Müller (which expired on July 2) and by promoting the number two and number three officials up one position, thereby ensuring that the C.D.F.’s most senior officials are now rowing with him. Read more
Review: Tracey Rowland’s ‘Catholic Theology’
Tom Ryan SM
Tracey Rowland, an Australian theologian, is a current member of the International Theological Commission (ITQ). Her latest book aims to a) outline the basic principles in any approach to Catholic theology (Ch. 1) and b) explain four dominant approaches (or ‘schools’) in ‘doing’ Catholic theology today and their respective historical backgrounds (Chapters 2-5). Her goal is to offer guideposts for seminarians (and the interested reader) to make sense of theological developments since Vatican 2.
Francis makes clear his mission as pope is far from ended
Pope Francis made it clear this morning that he believes his mission as successor to St. Peter and leader of the Catholic world is far from over. The message can be read as an answer to those who hope his pontificate may end soon. He said that his mission entails being able “to dream” and to share this dream and experience of life with young people today so that they may live prophetic lives.
He spoke in a homily at Mass on June 27 as he celebrated the anniversary of his ordination as bishop in Buenos Aires 25 years ago today. Read more
Le Vent de L’Esprit
The great feast that concludes the Easter season, Pentecost, can only be properly understood against the horizon of the Trinity, which we celebrate a week later, says Professor Peter Tyler. ‘The descent of the Spirit reminds us of our essential Trinitarian nature: rooted in Christ we look both to the Father in Heaven as well as to our fellow suffering humans on earth.’
Suddenly from Heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house. (Acts 2:2)
Thoughts from India
I have been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit over these past few weeks. Read more
Course: The Catholic Church and Democratic Society I
Starts Wednesday 8 March
Presenter Robert Gascoigne
This module will consider the relationships between the Catholic Church and democratic society in the modern period. Using both a historical and theological approach, it will reflect on the ways in which the Church has responded to, and influenced, political and social movements since the French revolution up to the present day, and how the development of democratic societies has affected the Church’s own life. It will have four main foci: Read more ...
Reflections on the Feast of the Ascension
The Feast of the Ascension strikes many Christians as the poor relative of the two rather bigger celebrations which top and tail the long and joyful season of Eastertide: Easter itself, and Pentecost. But Damian Howard SJ ascribes to this feast the utmost significance. What are we to make of the story of Jesus being taken up into a cloud, an episode that not only sounds like mythology but also violates our modern sense of space? Read more
Gonski in an age of budget repair
School funding is a very complex issue in Australia. It's now a poisonous political cocktail.
David Gonski, who had been the poster boy for Julia Gillard's bold education reforms, has now been showcased by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham announcing their new deal for school funding.
The National Catholic Education Commission, the Australian Catholic Primary Principals Association, and the Catholic Secondary Principals Association are upset with the proposed funding arrangements. Read more
Conference: Awakening the Sacred 2017
Friday 7 July - Saturday 8 July 2017
Australian Catholic University
Awakening the Sacred is the fifth in a series of conferences presented by The Sacred in Literature and the Arts (SLA), a community of interest that brings Australian and international writers, artists, musicians, academics, religious and members of the general public together to explore the interplay between the arts and the sacred. More information here.
The Nuremberg Prosecutor
At 97, Ben Ferencz is the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive and he has a far-reaching message for today's world. Watch CBS 60 Minutes interview.
Why the only future worth building includes everyone
A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don't, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the 'other' is not a statistic, or a number," he says. "We all need each other." Watch TED Talk
Ethicist sees 'Joy of Love' as call-out for family, justice
There's a lot going on in "The Joy of Love" (Amoris Laetitia), the exhortation Pope Francis published last year after the two-part synod on the family, but, says theologian Julie Hanlon Rubio, the core of it is pretty simple.
An array of social forces make marriage and family life more difficult — poverty, incarceration, migration, violence, racism, individualism and many more.
"The pope says, if we care about marriage and family, we have to care about these issues as well." Read more ...
The Grand Imam of al-Azhar explains his world peace conference
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is organizing a World Conference on Peace in Cairo. His goal is “to eliminate the causes of conflict, violence and hate”. Pope Francis will be a featured speaker at the 27-28 April event.
"Addressing a message to the whole world” to “call for peace between religious leaders, between societies and between all the countries of the world". This is how the office of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar summarized the objectives of the forthcoming World Conference on Peace Read more ...
The State of our Democracy
Archbishop Anthony Fisher
Following Brexit, the election of President Trump, and other seismic shifts in politics around the world, commentators are pondering the strength and future of democracy as we know it. There are many things one might say, but in the few minutes I have today I’d like to consider five challenges to democracy today, all of which have a spiritual dimension. Read more: Anthony Fisher - Sydney Catholic Business Network 2017.pdf
Why idle moments are crucial for creativity
Our brains are at their most innovative when they are resting, so why aren’t we making time for quiet reflection?
Last month, both the US Department of Homeland Security and the UK Department of Transport issued a new ban. Passengers flying from certain areas of North Africa and the Middle East can no longer carry electronics larger than a smartphone on flights.
Royal Jordanian airlines cheekily responded by offering travellers “12 things to do on a 12-hour flight with no tablet or laptop.” Number 11 was “analyse the meaning of life.” Read more ...
Are the bishops up to the pope’s challenge to build a synodal Church?
"Catholicism today still flirts with the dangerous tendency to rely on one man only - the pope. A year-and-a-half after Francis’ speech, how many bishops and bishops’ conferences have embraced his invitation for a synodal Church?"
There has been attention on Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation that elaborates on discussions regarding marriage and the family, which took places in 2014 and 2015 within the Synod of Bishops. Read more ...