Archbishop Wilson: Fair cop or foul?
By Alan Atkinson
Archbishop Philip Wilson has gone from church leader with a reputation for dealing professionally with sex abuse cases to being stoned by all and sundry in the national village square. The calls to resign come not only from victims, anti-church crusaders and commentators of every ilk, but also eminent Catholics who fear he may cause more damage by staying on.
I do not wish to debate the rights or wrongs of resignation but simply reflect on whether the pursuit of Wilson could in any sense be described as a witch-hunt and whether he might be seen as a scapegoat for the sins of many.
First, I do not know Wilson and have interviewed him just once. Read more
Concerning Laws Demanding Disclosure - A Response from St Patrick's Church
Michael Whelan SM
What does the Royal Commission recommend?
“Laws concerning mandatory reporting to child protection authorities should not exempt persons
in religious ministry from being required to report knowledge or suspicions formed, in whole or in
part, on the basis of information disclosed in or in connection with a religious confession.” ...
Comment: This recommendation is dangerously open-ended. See full article
Why the Catholic Church doesn’t want to break its seal of confession
South Australia has joined the ACT in moving ahead with laws to force priests to break the seal of confession in child sexual abuse cases. Other states are still deliberating over whether they'd adopt that recommendation from the Royal Commission.
Catholic Church leaders reject the idea and say they'd refuse to abide by the laws. And one prominent theologist and politician says priests' mandatory reporting is not the most effective way of fixing problems within the Catholic Church.
Michael Whelan SM was recently interviewed by the ABC's Catherine Gregory on this issue. Listen here
Enneagram Intensive Training & Weekend Workshop
Intensive Training 7-12 July
Wknd Workshop 14-15 July
The Enneagram Six Day Intensive Training Program is both a stand alone course and Part 1 of the Enneagram Professional Training Program. This updated course offers a deep, transformative experience of the Enneagram, focusing on the integration of psychology, spirituality and somatics. The course includes a full examination of the nine distinct type structures, with expanded attention to the spiritual and somatic aspects of each type. Another key element of the training examines how the types show up in relationships.
Subverting idolatry in churches and banks
Even after three weeks, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has come to resemble the earlier Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
We have seen the same initial resistance to a public enquiry, the same insistence that revelations of sexual or financial abuse reflected a few bad apples and not a bad culture, the same endorsement when the royal commission was called, and the same shaming as the public questioning of hapless senior officials followed damning evidence of abuse and of the failure to address it. Read more
Forthcoming Courses in 2018
All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks and include class notes.
Living! Not just Coping: A Contemplative Psychology for our Times
Presenter: Catherine Hammond BS in Ed, MA, MPh
When: 4 Wednesday mornings, 10am - 12noon, May 2 - 23
Developing Your Own Spirituality I
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am - 12noon, May 17 - June 7
How we came to be so cruel to asylum seekers
If you had been told 30 years ago that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world, you would not have been believed.
In 1992 we introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Since that time, we have accepted the idea that certain categories of refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly returned to the point of departure; that those who haven’t been able to be forcibly returned should be imprisoned indefinitely on remote Pacific Islands...Read more
Pope Francis admits ‘serious errors’ in handling of Chilean sex abuse cases
In what has the appearance of the beginning of an earthquake in the Chilean church, Pope Francis has sent a strong letter to the Chilean bishops in which he speaks of his “pain and shame” on receiving the report on the abuse scandal in Chile from Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. He had sent Archbishop Scicluna to listen to the victims of abuse last February.
In the three-page letter, he admits his own “serious mistakes” in dealing with this scandal and asks for forgiveness and goes on to take two dramatic steps: He summons the entire Chilean hierarchy ... Read more
Clerical culture produces poor fruit
In a recent Eureka Street article I remarked that in the Catholic Church clericalism is a pejorative term. I tried also to identify some of the attitudes and behaviour associated with people regarded as clericalist. The article sparked a lively conversation.
Some contributors criticised me for focusing on individuals and not on the more insidious culture of clericalism. The criticism was justified, and in this article I shall reflect on the culture and its byproducts.
As a culture clericalism displays a world view in which the Catholic Church is a self-sufficient world. Its security, reputation and ... Read more
Compass, Episode 1: Confess
Is the need to confess an imperative all humans share?
Kumi Taguchi reveals what confession looks like today; the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic tradition and a secular urban confession offered on street corners.
This programme was originally broadcast on Saturday 3 March 2018. Click here to view
Introduction to the Enneagram Course
Saturday 17 March
The Enneagram is an amazing and ancient tool that joins together psychology and spirituality to help us understand our true self – our essence. It allows us to identify the repeated patterns of behaviour in our personality type that prevent us from reaching our full potential as the human being that God created us to be. The Enneagram is also very useful in helping us to understand the many dimensions of both our personal and professional relationships.
To find out more about this Course click here
Cupich says 'Amoris Laetitia' changes how church teaches families, by learning
Pope Francis is calling the global Catholic Church to make "an enormous change of approach" in how it relates to families and to renounce heavy-handed ways of implementing doctrine, recognize that teachings can develop over time, and better respect the insights of laypeople, said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.
In a speech ... the cardinal reflected on the pope's 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, calling aspects of it "nothing short of revolutionary." Read more
The gift and power of emotional courage
Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share. Hear more
Cardinal Kasper: The controversy surrounding ‘Amoris Laetitia’ has come to an end
The controversy regarding Amoris Laetitia has come to an end, according to German cardinal Walter Kasper. What is more, he has affirmed that the admission of remarried divorced persons to the sacraments in individual cases is, in his view, the only correct interpretation of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation.
Writing in an op-ed for the German language section of Radio Vatican, the prominent prelate asserted that “with the official publication of the letter from Pope Francis to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region, the painful dispute over the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is hopefully over.” Read more
On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis delivers his ‘silent majority’ speech
ROME - A pope is also the Bishop of Rome, and every once in a while, Romans expect to hear something special from their shepherd. On Sunday Pope Francis delivered, offering a New Year’s Eve homily expressing gratitude for his own Roman flock - although in terms, however, which will have resonance well beyond the Eternal City.
In effect, this was Pope Francis’s version of the famous 1969 “silent majority” speech by U.S. President Richard Nixon, suggesting that the concerns of ordinary people aren’t necessarily reflected in the rattle and hum of media coverage. Read more
Let's remember what Christmas is actually about to counter the stress and sadness
A psychologist friend told me recently that she and her colleagues are always overbooked at this time of year.
Make a note, if you need some time on the therapist's couch in December you'll need to get in early.
Conversations with friends this week certainly evoked a sense that, even when cognitive behavioural therapy isn't part of the mix, gritting teeth to endure the festive season is. Often rueful jokes about in-laws or wayward brothers mask a profound sadness that life hasn't turned out the way we'd hoped.
How did this happen? Where did the magical Christmases we enjoyed as children go? Read more
On not quenching the Spirit
Nicholas King SJ
Pope Francis’ concern about the wording of the Lord’s Prayer has generated plenty of debate, and if that makes us more attentive to the working of the Spirit then we should embrace it. However, we ought not to be seeking a perfect translation, says Nicholas King SJ, with support from this Sunday’s second reading. ‘The function of the divine Word is to set us free, not enslave us.’
You have to be careful about words. There have been ruffled feathers in the past week because the pope indicated a certain dissatisfaction with the Italian translation of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘do not lead us into temptation’, indicating that the God whom we address as ‘Father’ could not possibly do such a thing. Read more
With remembrance goes compassion: Manus
In 'Epic', Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh mused on the relative importance of world and local contemporaneous events — Chamberlain's meeting with Hitler in Munich and a bitter local dispute about a patch of land.
'I have lived in important places, times / When great events were decided, who owned / That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land / Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.'
This poem came to mind when the refugees on Manus Island were forcibly evicted from their quarters. In Australia it was a small event ... Seen through the eyes of the refugees it was a large event, Read more
What brings a Jesuit pope to Asia?
The seeds of the pope's interest in the region and his missionary zeal were sewn by the former head of the Order, Pedro Arrupe.
One of the biggest influences on Pope Francis remains relatively unexplored — Pedro Arrupe, the Superior General of the Jesuits who appointed Jorge Bergoglio as Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina at the fairly tender age of 36. Though he described the appointment as "crazy," the now pope, who served as Provincial from 1973-79, was set on a path of leadership by someone who was to shape his imagination in ways that almost daily are reflected in his ministry as the Bishop of Rome, including the priority he gives to Asia. Read more
The war against Pope Francis
Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.
But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. Read more