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Analysis and Comment (47)

They are listening but whose side are they on? Max Rossi/Reuters

The tectonic plates of world Catholicism shift

An extraordinary two weeks in Rome ended Saturday with a standing ovation. Pope Francis had invited 191 bishops and clergy to the Synod on the family to speak their minds on issues such as divorce, premarital…
The extraordinary synod of bishops on family is meeting for two weeks at the Vatican. EPA/L'Osservatore Romano

Pope sets off a ‘gay earthquake’? No, the church has hardly moved

A report of debate from the first half of the extraordinary synod of Catholic bishops meeting in Rome has been described as a “pastoral earthquake” and a “seismic shift in Rome” for praising gay relationships…
Throughout his recent royal commission appearance, Catholic cardinal George Pell focused on the ‘choices’ that victims of abuse make. AAP/Paul Miller

Moral responsibility a drive-by victim of Pell’s view of the church

Cardinal George Pell’s appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will do little to rehabilitate his image in the eyes of clergy abuse victims. Via video link…
Crowd-pleaser: Pope Francis I. EPA/Chung Sung-Jun

After 65 years, is China finally ready to embrace the Pope?

Pope Francis flew over China on his way to South Korea late last week, where the Catholic Church has seen rapid growth in the last decade. Papal custom is to send a telegram to the leaders of nations over…
What is distinctive about the Catholic Church that might have fostered child abuse? David Goehring

With child abuse, we need to talk about original sin

The statistics attached to the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have confirmed what many people suspected – that while child abuse has been widespread…
Pope Francis argues that the poor are at the heart of the Gospel and it’s the communists who have ‘stolen the flag’. EPA/Nicola Lanese

Is the Pope Catholic or communist when he speaks out on poverty?

A blog in The Economist recently accused Pope Francis of following the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, in adopting an “ultra-radical line” on capitalism. The blog, “Francis, capitalism and…
George Pell isn’t a personal devotee of new media, but he sees their value for spreading the word. AAP/Paul Miller

Can the Vatican go viral? George Pell’s communication challenge

Imagine you were playing with your phone while you waited for the World Cup final to get underway and you suddenly saw a photo of the Pope Emeritus eating popcorn with the current Pontiff on your timeline…
The idea may seem ‘old-fashioned’, says Pope Francis, ‘But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here … even in the 21st century!’ EPA/Maurizio Brambatti

What is Pope Francis on about with all this talk of Satan and evil?

Pope Francis’ discussion of the devil (or Satan) has been greeted with surprise by many. Why would a “progressive” Pope speak about an “old-school”, passé topic like the devil? Has not the Catholic Church…
John XXIII and John Paul II: most recent popes to join the ranks of saints. Mario Fornasari/Flickr

Standards for sainthood: what defines a ‘miracle’?

Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints by Pope Francis last Sunday. So what were the “miracles” necessary for John Paul’s sainthood, and how likely was it they really occurred? Almost 40…
George Pell explained his actions in the landmark Ellis sex abuse case to the Royal Commission by saying he was relying on legal advice. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Pell was wrong to blame the lawyers, but they aren’t blameless

When counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse put it to Cardinal George Pell last week that his lawyers weren’t his moral advisors, she was implying that he…
Cardinal George Pell reportedly led Catholic Church lobbying of the government to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. AAP/Dean Lewins

Charitable treatment by regulator belies church complaints

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) was created by the former federal Labor government and began operation in December 2012. It is so new that some charities are yet to be required…
Whatever one makes of George Pell’s legacy, the Catholic Church in Australia must tackle challenges on several fronts without one of its dominant figures of recent times. AAP/Paul Miller

A daunting task or radical opportunity? The Catholic Church’s challenges in Australia

With the recent appointment of Cardinal George Pell to Rome, the Catholic Church in Australia will lose a dominant figure. While there are criticisms, his influence and legacy are broad ranging. Pell’s…
He didn’t get Rush Limbaugh’s vote, that’s for sure. Agência Brasil

Person of the year Pope Francis reminds us of our nobler side

Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for “pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets”. He beat nine others including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Bashar…
Not since the papacy of Paul VI in the 1960s has a pope openly declared the need to rebel against unjust capitalism. EPA/Claudi Peri

Pope Francis prioritises the poor, channels Marx in new ‘manifesto’

Pope Francis has openly attacked capitalism in his recently released Apostolic exhortation, which for all intents and purposes is the Pope’s “manifesto”. While Francis has called for the radical decentralisation…
Understated as ever. ANSA/Osservatore Romano

Pope Francis brings religious subtlety to Catholic dogma

Liberals are enthusiastic, while conservative Catholics express deepening dismay. The Pope must be giving interviews again. Reactions to Francis’s sit-down with Antonio Spadaro, editor in chief of La Civilt…
Pope Francis' liberal approach to theology is aimed at reforming the church’s attitude towards issues. EPA/Alessandro Di Meo

Revitalising the Catholic Church: is Pope Francis proposing a new way forward?

Pope Francis has made headlines recently with comments about abortion, gay marriage, contraception, work and capitalism. Francis has said that he’s “not spoken much about these things [abortion, gay marriage…
His name was Francis, he was a pontiff - the Pope arrives at the Copacabana. Semilla Luz

Pope Francis: people’s pontiff or sharp politician?

On the flight home from World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis gave an unscheduled, no-holds-barred interview to the journalists travelling with him. He spoke on a wide range of topics including the role…
The Catholic Church has been reticent about its investigations into child abuse. John Shore

Vatican silence on abuse likely to continue despite UN plea

Last week the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) asked the Vatican to disclose details of child sexual abuse cases involving Catholic clergy for the period November 1995 to January 2014. According…
Our attitudes towards religious institutions - in particular the Catholic Church - has changed as scandal and controversy afflicts the former bastion of faith. AAP/Simon Mossman

What place for the Catholic Church in 21st century Australia?

As a young girl in the 1960s, I attended a Catholic boarding school. The nuns could be scary. When they walked the wintry and un-illuminated corridors of the convent, their knee-length rosary beads jangled…
Cardinal George Pell apologised to victims of child sex abuse by the Catholic clergy at a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the issue. AAP/Joe Castro

Cardinal Pell and the inquiries into child sex abuse

Cardinal George Pell has apologised to victims and survivors of child abuse by Catholic clergy during his appearance before the Victorian parliament’s Inquiry into child abuse by by religious organisations…
Australian cardinal George Pell will be part of the new global panel of advisers, the G8, to Pope Francis. AAP/Dean Lewins

Church reform: will Pope Francis' G8 change the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis I’s weekend announcement of a new council, the Group of Eight (G8), to advise him on Catholic Church governance and reforming the Church’s central administration (the Roman Curia) has been…
In his first meeting with the media Pope Francis has said he will lead a church “that is poor and for the poor”. EPA/Radek Pietruszka

Back to the future: can the Catholic Church find its way?

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent election of Pope Francis have provoked intense public interest and media attention across the globe. How could it be otherwise? The Catholic Church…
New Pope Francis I has a controversial past in his home country. EPA/Andrea Solero

Pope Francis I’s murky past in Argentina

Today Australia woke up to its first Latin American and Jesuit pope. Although apparently being second choice behind the former pope Benedict when he was elected in 2005, Pope Francis I was seen as an outside…
Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel before the start of the conclave in the Vatican to elect the next Pope. EPA/Osservatore Romano

Cardinal numbers: what in God’s name is happening in the Sistine Chapel?

This morning, Australian Catholics awoke to the news that black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. The seat remains vacant, there is no Pope. By now many of us will have learned through…
Pope Benedict XVI has announced plans to step down on February 28, citing the job’s pressures and his advanced age. Alessandro Di Meo/EPA

Out with God’s rottweiler: the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

“There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving examination as the Roman Catholic Church.” So wrote Thomas Babington Macaulay in his review of Leopold von Ranke’s…
Justice Peter McClellan (centre), Chair of the Royal Commission into child sex abuse, delivers a media statement with his fellow commissioners in Sydney. AAP/Damian Shaw

Child abuse inquiries as catalyst for deep change in the Catholic Church

The awful record of the institutional Catholic church’s leadership in dealing with the scandal of clerical sex abuse of minors has clearly, and rightly, been a trigger for the federal government’s Royal…
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, Families Minister Jenny Macklin and Prime Minister Julia Gillard have announced the royal commission’s terms of reference. AAP/Stephanie Flack

Explainer: royal commission into child sex abuse

The terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse were released this afternoon in Sydney. In speeches that emphasised the need to acknowledge the experiences…
People who were abused as children are more likely to suffer mental health and substance abuse disorders. Dawn Ashley

Protecting the abused from further trauma during the Royal Commission

There is great support within the community for the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. Many people have high hopes it will right the wrongs of the past and help us, as a nation, to eliminate future…
The Catholic Church’s cover-ups have all the markings of a corrupt organisation. AAP/April Fonti

Royal Commission must treat the church like a corrupt police force

The Catholic Church has constructed a white curtain behind which networks of corruption have been allowed to deepen. Professor Patrick Parkinson, a senior lawyer who formally supported the Church’s “Towards…
A royal commission into institutionalised sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia has been announced. AAP/Dave Hunt

Royal commissions: how do they work?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a royal commission into child abuse in churches, schools and foster homes. The inquiry will include, but not be limited to, allegations of abuse in the Catholic…
Cardinal George Pell says there is insufficient evidence to hold a Royal Commission into claims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. AAP/Dean Lewins

Church and state oppose a Royal Commission at the expense of clergy’s victims

Report after damning report is rapidly revealing the dirty secrets of the Catholic Church. As fresh allegations and evidence abound, it seems we have a seismic shift in the battle for justice for victims…
The Pope’s decision to allow Anglicans into the Catholic Church may be the first step on the way to a unified church. EPA/Alessandro Di Meo

A unified Church? Pope gives hope to Anglo-Catholics

In his first message on becoming Pope, Benedict XVI said the impelling duty of the successor of Peter was “to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers”. “Concrete…
Offenders such as Gerard Ridsdale, jailed on paedophile charges in 1994, must be exposed. AAP/Ballart Courier

Compromised inquiry into church sex crimes disrespects victims

Victorian victims of clergy sex crimes and their families have been fighting for justice for years – some for decades. The previous Labor state government did nothing for them. The Baillieu government…

Research and News (1)