Racial Hatred Laws 20 Years On
Frank Brennan SJ
Twenty years ago Frank Brennan wrote a piece for Eureka Street in which he said: "Incitement to racial hatred and hostility, or hate speech as it is sometimes called, is conduct by an offender or a group that is likely to cause a second person or group to act in an adverse manner towards a third person or group on the grounds of their race, causing that third person or group to fear that violence may be used against them because of their race. Each element — cause, likelihood and grounds — would have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. Advocates of such laws concede that there is little prospect of successful prosecutions — there have only been one or two in Canada, for example — and argue instead for the symbolic value of the law." In this recent essay in Eureka Street Frnak Brennan revisits the issue in the light of Attorney General Brandis' proposal. Read the full essay.
The Commission and the Protection of Minors
We recently posted an article from NCR by Fr Tom Doyle criticising the constitution of the Pope's Commission on sexual abuse - "Questions About the Pope's Abuse Commission". This article offers another perspective - read the article by Fr Zollner SJ.
Cardinal Pell Before the Royal Commission
A stark feature of the sexual abuse tragedy is that the Catholic Church has been led back to its mission and - perhaps - greater integrity, by the secular world. The victims, together with the media and the courts of our land have demanded an honesty and transparency of the Church that the Church, left to herself, would never have sought out. These days of the Royal Commission have been a dreadful ordeal for innocent victims like John Ellis. Let us hope his suffering has not been in vain. Frank Brennan offers a reflection on Cardinal Pell's presence before the Commission - read the full article from Eureka Street.
Questions About Pope's New Abuse Commission
The countless victims of clergy sex abuse have been waiting for 30 years for the Vatican to show it really understands the depth of the problem and is willing to do something real about it. Judging by the latest move,naming members of a pontifical commission, victims will have to keep on waiting. Those who have been deeply involved in this issue for the long haul had little hope the promised commission would make a difference, and we probably won't be disappointed.Read the full article from NCR
German Bishops Publish Results of Questionnaire
The German and Swiss Catholic Bishops Conferences are the first to publish initial analyses of last year's Vatican questionnaire, sent to dioceses around the world in preparation for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 2014.
The German bishops' report, published in German, English and Italian, praises the participants in the survey. They said: "Despite the linguistic style of the questions, which many criticised as being difficult to understand, many individuals and bodies have taken the initiative themselves and have studied the preparatory document for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and sent to the dioceses their responses to the questions which it contains." Read full report
German Theologians respond to Questionnaire
Two groups of noted German theologians have bluntly outlined how church teaching does not align with the concerns or lifestyles of most European Catholics in response to a Vatican questionnaire on Catholics’ attitudes on issues like contraception and same-sex marriage.
Church sexual teachings, say the representatives of the Association of German Moral Theologians and the Conference of German-speaking Pastoral Theologians, come from an “idealized reality” and need a “fundamental, new evaluation.”
“It becomes painfully obvious that the Christian moral teaching that limits sexuality to the context of marriage cannot look closely enough at the many forms of sexuality outside of marriage,” say the 17 signers of the response, who include some of Germany’s most respected Catholic academics.
The theologians also propose that the church adopt a whole new paradigm for its sexual teachings, based not on moral evaluations of individual sex acts but on the fragility of marriage and the vulnerability people experience in their sexuality.
The theologians are responding to a Vatican request last October that bishops worldwide prepare for a 2014 global meeting of Catholic prelates by distributing a questionnaire on family topics "as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.” Read full report from National Catholic Reporter
Florida Bishop and the Questionnaire
In an unusually blunt report to the Vatican, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., said that even most regular churchgoing Catholics in his diocese find the church's teaching on artificial contraception no longer relevant.
"On the matter of artificial contraception, the responses might be characterized by saying, 'That train left the station long ago,' " he wrote in a Feb. 7 blog about his report. "Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium [the sense of the faithful] suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject."Read full article from the National Catholic Reporter
Church Teaching on Ecology Before and by Pope Francis
It is reported that Pope Francis is preparing a text on the environment, and Donal Dorr expects that the resulting document will develop the links that Francis has already and repeatedly made between 'concern for the exploited earth and concern for marginalised and exploited people'. How does Pope Francis' thinking about the environment compare with that of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI?
Nun Jailed for Nuclear Protest
Her two co-defendants, Michael Walli, 65, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 58, were sentenced to 62 months on charges of interfering with national security and damaging property at the Y-12 National Security Complex, in Oak Ridge Tennessee, in July 2012 — the same facility that once provided the enriched uranium for the world's first bomb on Hiroshima. Read full report
Pilgrimage to India and Sri Lanka February 2015
A Journey in the Heart
“His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51 – NRSV)
Living is a journey, both a journey inwards and a journey outwards. The outer world into which we travel is partly made up of natural facts and forces and partly constructed by politics, culture, society, religion and individual behaviours. Dealing with this outer world is perhaps the most obvious part of the human journey. We cannot escape it!
We can, however, become forgetful of the inner world or simply take it for granted. In fact, it needs deliberate attention. How well we deal with that inner world bears directly on how well we deal with the outer world.
Our pilgrimage to India and Sri Lanka will be an encounter with other cultures and environments. We will leave our comfort zones that depend so much on what we can take for granted. This can be expected to provide the jolt to body, mind and spirit that can awaken us to new possibilities – not only there but also here.
The pilgrimage will then be as much a journey in the heart as it is a journey across sea and land. The latter evokes the former, the former makes the latter rich and life giving. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, will be our companion along the way.
Pope Francis' Leadership Style - A Book Review
Chris Lowney, Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, Loyola Press, 2113
A Review by Quentin de la Bedoyere
Chris Lowney himself has been a Jesuit seminarian and a senior executive at J.P. Morgan & Co. He uses his experience of both to examine in this book Pope Francis' approach to leadership. This analysis, which Lowney frames in terms of Jesuit spiritualty, offers useful keys to the way Francis thinks and acts. Read the review
Pope Francis: Be Humble to Dialogue
.- In his daily homily, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of being humble in order to dialogue with others, and emphasized that we should not build “walls” that can foster resentment with others. “Humility, meekness, becoming all things to everyone and also – but this is not written in the Bible – all of us know that to do these things you have to swallow so many toads. But, we must do it,” the Pope explained in his Jan. 24 daily Mass.
Advice for the Pope on Reforming the Church
The Church isn't offering many endearing images to its stoic believers of late. But one will stay with me for many years. That wonderful moment in March when Jorge Mario Bergoglio walked out onto the Vatican balcony with his simple but invitingFratelli e sorelle, buona sera! — Brothers and sisters, good evening! — still sends a thrill up my spine.
Along with the rest of the watching crowd in St Peter's Square, I thought he'd seemed rather stunned, almost overwhelmed just prior to this emergence. Then came this incredibly pastoral moment followed by the next, his appeal to all of us to pray for him. You could have heard a pin drop in the packed square as people delightedly complied, an unforgettable moment.
Pope Francis and Liberation Theology - Essay One of a Series
The online journal, Political Theology Today, on December 6 2013 began a series of essays on Pope Francis' ongoing dialogue with Liberation Theology.
The first of these essays may be found at the following address: Pope Francis and Liberation Theology - Jeffrey Klaiber SJ. Other essays follow on a weekly basis.
Evangelii Gaudium - Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation
Pope Francis offers a considered reflection on his approach to being Church today. The themes of joy and mercy are prominent, reminding us of Pope John XXIII. He also continues the Church's critique of capitalism, challenging all people of good will to face the terrible inequities in our world. The Pope's "off the cuff" remarks of the previous months are perhaps not so "off the cuff".
Pope Joins in Tributes to Nelson Mandela
Pope Francis sent a telegram to Jacob Zuma expressing his condolences on the death of Nelson Mandela.
A Comment on the Vatican's Questionnaire
Many of us were dismayed by the wording and expression of questions in the recent Preparatory Document for the Extraordinary Synod on Mariage and the Family scheduled for October 2014.
Pope Francis asks "Why?"
Cardinal Tagle recently had an audience in Rome with Pope Francis, along with a large group of people from the Philippines. Cardinal Tagle broke down as a spoke of the loss and pain caused by the cyclone.