Saturday, 26 January 2013

Patrons of Australia: St Mary McKillop and Our Lady, Help of Christians

As we celebrate Australia Day (January 26), some good news: Australia now officially has two patron saints, with St Mary of the Cross (McKillop) officially added as second patron saint of our country.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

And the hierarchy claim they get it: the disease strikes again in Melbourne!***

Has the hierarchy learnt the lessons of the abuse crisis?

It seems not if a story in today's Age is anything to go by.

**Update: it seems this story says more of some of the other parties involved than the diocese - see below.

Priests in abusive sexual relationships

The story alleges that a priest is back on normal parish duties after conducting a sexual relationship with a vulnerable young women (who received $100,000 in compensation) for some 14 years.

And the explanation given as to why he should be permitted to return to ministry after 18 months leave for s sin the psychologists say fit all the criteria of abuse:

"...a senior NSW church official, Michael Salmon, advised Ms Herrick's lawyer in writing that Father Knowles had ''committed to a prolonged, regular and very intensive and personally confronting program of therapy'' and he would ''return to full community life, and to public ministry''.

The Church concerned, St Francis', Melbourne, is run by the Blessed Sacrament Congregation.

Indeed, it seems the priest concerned, Fr Tom Knowles, who, unsurprisingly seems to have some interestingly heterodox opinions on the blessed sacrament, was the 'community leader' there until 2011 when the women concerned lodged a complaint after she had a breakdown and lost her job.

How can they get away with it?

In this case the sex abuse protocols do not apply, because the young woman in question was 22 when the by all acconts abusive and exploitative 'relationship' started.

Most of the focus to date has been on child sex abuse.

But breaches of celibacy more generally surely need to be taken seriously as well.

Priests, like all Christians are called to holiness.  Yet they must also be held to a higher standard (hence those seven years or so of formation), because of their duty to teach and lead, which surely has to be by example as well as words.  And anyway, will priests who disregard basic morality be inclined to preach it?

Moreover, priests who engage in clandestine relationships, whether involving an inherent abuse of power (and this one seems to have been) or not inevitably get caught in an ever growing spiral of lies, other sins and consequences.

What happens if the woman becomes pregnant for example?

I've heard all too many stories of the hierarchy becoming involved in the - yes you heard it - cover up.

Professor Neil Omerod of ACU sees such cases as the next big scandal, potentially bigger than the child abuse one.  I agree.

Time for the hierarchy to get its act together on priestly morality more generally, and give those guilty the boot.


I've been advised by Archbishop Hart that the attempted return to ministry of Fr Knowles was done without the knowledge of diocesan authorities, and his faculties have since been removed.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Fr F Case: the diocese failed its duty

The bishops of Parramatta and Armidale have now released report they commissioned from the Hon Antony Whitlam QC in relation to the handling of the  'Fr F' abuse case, and it is not a pretty story.

I haven't had a chance to read the full report yet, but the accompanying pastoral letters from the two bishops concerned tell it like it is.  Bishop Michael Kennedy's in particular is excellent, and well worth a read.

The report apparently finds that Bishop Harry Kennedy of Armidale's handling of the case was deficient, and points to 'poor record keeping, ineffective assessments, inefficient inquiries, and inadequate response to and treatment of victims and their families'.  The summary comments imply that the report more or less exonerates Bishop Kennedy's successors  including Bishop Manning, however.

Both bishops have accepted all of the recommendations of the report.

This is not the end of the story of course, as police inquiries are still continuing.

More on this anon...

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Signs of life in the Church around the world!

Here in Australia, the Church is struggling, with the Royal Commission into child abuse having its first meeting today; the media is running a nasty campaign against religious freedom protections for Churches; and more than half a dozen dioceses without a bishop (Wilcannia-Forbes, Canberra), with bishops over the age limit waiting for their successors to be chosen (Hobart, Rockhampton, Lismore), or expected to be vacant shortly one way or another.

But around the world there have been a number of good news stories this week, signs of a fightback and regeneration on the part of Christians.

So here is some of the good(ish) news.

Wearing a cross at work is not a sackable offence!

In the UK the European Court of Human Rights handed down rulings on four religious discrimination cases cases in the UK this week.

The good news is that it found that wearing a cross at work was found not to be a sackable offence (except where there are occupational health and safety issues at stake)!

The bad news is that the court didn't uphold the conscience rights of workers who refused to perform same sex civil unions or to provide sexual therapy for homosexuals.

Resistance to same sex 'marriage'

There were also two promising signs of gathering steam on the resistance to same sex marriage.  In the UK, a thousand priests signed a letter to the editor of the (UK) Daily Telegraph opposing same sex marriage and pointing out the likely consequences for persecution of Catholics.

And in France, the fight against same sex marriage picked up its pace this week with a massive demonstration in favour of traditional marriage.

Traditional religious life

Yet surely the most heartening sign of life in the Church is that at least some of our religious orders - namely the traditionally oriented ones - are going from strength to strength

The Tyburn nuns (aka Benedictine Adorers of the Most Sacred Heart of Montmatre) have just opened a new house in Nigeria.  It's their seventh foundation in the last twenty years.  The order now has around 80 nuns in total.

Another source of strength is the traditional Benedictines of Fontgombault (of the Solesmes Congregation), who has something like that number of monks in their mother abbey alone, and have made four foundations, all now independent abbeys, since 1971.  And now a fifth - the foundation, or rather refoundation, of the failing Abbey of Wisque.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Kathleen Naughtin RIP***updated

Thanks to SPWang for passing on the news that Fr. Terence Mary Naughtin's mother, Kathleen, passed away this evening at 8:45 at Yarrawonga hospital. 

Please pray for her soul, and also keep Fr Terence, who has done so much for the traditionalist movement in Australia, in your prayers.

***Update: The times for Mrs. Kathleen Naughtin's requiem and funeral are
Requiem (ex form) - 7:30pm Thursday 17/01/2013 at Yarrawonga Catholic Church.
Funeral (o form) - 10am Friday 18/01/2013 at Yarrawonga Catholic Church.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Happy Christmas!

Today is the last day of the Christmas season, but just what feast you are celebrating today will depend on which calendar you are following!

Once upon a time of course it was the Octave day of the Epiphany, aka the Commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord.  The octave was abolished by Pope Pius XII, but the 1962 Benedictine calendar still retains the Office of the traditional feast, as does the Novus Ordo calendar.

In the 1962 Roman calendar, though, the Sunday after the Epiphany, by order of Pope Benedict XV, is the Feast of the Holy Family.

I guess it isn't an entirely odd way to end Christmastide, but personally I think the three theophanies celebrated in the feast of the Epiphany (the Adoration of the Magi; the miracle at the wedding at Cana; and the Baptism of Our Lord) make a better segue into 'time throughout the year', or the Sundays after Epiphany, and as such, justify the restoration of the Octave - and celebration of the Octave Day itself, Sunday or not!

So finally, I've actually found a revision of the calendar that I actually agree with...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Royal Commission: Terms of Reference and Commissioners announced

The terms of reference and six Commissioners for the Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse have now been announced, embedded in the quaint form of 'letters patent' from the Queen via the Governor General (yes I know we call it a Royal Commission, but I have to admit I hadn't realised the words were used quite so literally!).

The terms of reference

So far responses to the terms of reference seem very positive.

Here are the key sections for your information:

" inquire into institutional responses to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and related matters, and in particular, without limiting the scope of your inquiry, the following matters:

what institutions and governments should do to better protect children against child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts in the future;

what institutions and governments should do to achieve best practice in encouraging the reporting of, and responding to reports or information about, allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts;

what should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments that currently exist for responding appropriately to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, including addressing failures in, and impediments to, reporting, investigating and responding to allegations and incidents of abuse;

what institutions and governments should do to address, or alleviate the impact of, past and future child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, including, in particular, in ensuring justice for victims through the provision of redress by institutions, processes for referral for investigation and prosecution and support services.

AND We direct you to make any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you consider appropriate, including recommendations about any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms.

AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry and recommendations, to have regard to the following matters:

the experience of people directly or indirectly affected by child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, and the provision of opportunities for them to share their experiences in appropriate ways while recognising that many of them will be severely traumatised or will have special support needs;

the need to focus your inquiry and recommendations on systemic issues, recognising nevertheless that you will be informed by individual cases and may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities in individual cases;

the adequacy and appropriateness of the responses by institutions, and their officials, to reports and information about allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts;

changes to laws, policies, practices and systems that have improved over time the ability of institutions and governments to better protect against and respond to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts.

AND We further declare that you are not required by these Our Letters Patent to inquire, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that you are satisfied that the matter has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceeding.

AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry and recommendations, to consider the following matters, and We authorise you to take (or refrain from taking) any action that you consider appropriate arising out of your consideration:
the need to establish mechanisms to facilitate the timely communication of information, or the furnishing of evidence, documents or things, in accordance with section 6P of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 or any other relevant law, including, for example, for the purpose of enabling the timely investigation and prosecution of offences;

the need to establish investigation units to support your inquiry;

the need to ensure that evidence that may be received by you that identifies particular individuals as having been involved in child sexual abuse or related matters is dealt with in a way that does not prejudice current or future criminal or civil proceedings or other contemporaneous inquiries;

the need to establish appropriate arrangements in relation to current and previous inquiries, in Australia and elsewhere, for evidence and information to be shared with you in ways consistent with relevant obligations so that the work of those inquiries, including, with any necessary consents, the testimony of witnesses, can be taken into account by you in a way that avoids unnecessary duplication, improves efficiency and avoids unnecessary trauma to witnesses;

the need to ensure that institutions and other parties are given a sufficient opportunity to respond to requests and requirements for information, documents and things, including, for example, having regard to any need to obtain archived material...."

...institution means any public or private body, agency, association, club, institution, organisation or other entity or group of entities of any kind (whether incorporated or unincorporated), and however described, and:
includes, for example, an entity or group of entities (including an entity or group of entities that no longer exists) that provides, or has at any time provided, activities, facilities, programs or services of any kind that provide the means through which adults have contact with children, including through their families; and
does not include the family...."


require you to begin your inquiry as soon as practicable, and

require you to make your inquiry as expeditiously as possible; and
require you to submit to Our Governor-General:

first and as soon as possible, and in any event not later than 30 June 2014 (or such later date as Our Prime Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, fix on your recommendation), an initial report of the results of your inquiry, the recommendations for early consideration you may consider appropriate to make in this initial report, and your recommendation for the date, not later than 31 December 2015, to be fixed for the submission of your final report; 

then and as soon as possible, and in any event not later than the date Our Prime Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, fix on your recommendation, your final report of the results of your inquiry and your recommendations; and

authorise you to submit to Our Governor-General any additional interim reports that you consider appropriate.

The Commissioners

The Commission is to be led by Justice Peter McClellan AM, Chief Judge at Common Law to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He was an Assistant Commissioner at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and a barrister at the Maralinga Royal Commission (into British Nuclear Tests in Outback Australia).  He is presumably not a Catholic since he was educated at Normanhurst Boys' High School (followed by Arts/Law at the University of Sydney).

Productivity Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is a well known liberal (or 'progressive') Catholic who has previously advocated getting rid of the hierarchical structures of the Church, and turning parishes and dioceses over to lay leadership.  No doubt he has a number of strong supporters amongst our liberal episcopacy.

The other Commissioners are former Queensland Police Commissioner, Bob Atkinson; Family Court Justice Jennifer Coate; psychiatrist Dr Helen Milroy; and West Australian businessman Andrew Murray.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who was the biggest spender of them all?...John Howard!

There is a fascinating IMF working paper out today from the International Monetary Fund entitled 'A modern History of Fiscal Prudence and Profligacy', looking at Government spending and debt levels over two hundred years.

On the whole, Australia, fares pretty well on international comparisons (certainly compared to countries like the US).  Our debt level has been declining since the 1930s, and the budget balance has been more or less stable for a long time.

But what is notable is that, as the Sydney Morning Herald's article on it points out, that the periods of 'fiscal profligacy' identified by the study weren't the Whitlam years, nor indeed under any Labor Government - but rather were under John Howard and the Coalition.

Source: SMH
There is actually nothing new about this finding - the Federal Treasury noted some time back that the Howard Government had outspent any other in recent times by a considerable margin.

Moreover, the Coalition, despite occasional, generally short-lived bursts of empty rhetoric, has long championed middle and upper class welfare (think private insurance rebate for example).

Still, it's a nice reminder.

Counter-cyclical policies vs middle class welfare?

The Shadow Treasurer has, of course, responded by pointing to the supposed horrors of the GFC counter-cyclical package (viz free installation of pink batts and school hall construction).

The reality is, however, that the problem with the insulation scheme was not, in principle at least, the expenditure itself  (it was something that could be done quickly, so was a genuine stimulus to the economy when it needed it, and did promise long term benefits in terms of lower electricity usage) but the failure to adequately consider the measure and regulate it from a safety point of view.

Similarly, while there was rorting by certain ever-unscrupulous elements of the  Australian private sector in the Building Better Schools program, the subsequent audit of the program found this was at the margin, and that in most States, the program was actually reasonably well managed.

That's not to say Labor hasn't spent money on silly things, or overseen maladministration of course.

Though in my view the blame for the erosion of the public service capability has to be shared by both sides of the House.  The so-called 'efficiency dividend', or use of across the board savings targets to fund new initiatives rather than targeted savings options, has now been in place for over 25 years; it is the lazy, easy option for Governments.  But keeping on just cutting regardless of the merits of the individual cases has inevitable consequences...

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Pray for Bishop Putney of Townsville, gravely ill

The ACBC media blog has announced that Bishop Putney of Townsville has an incurable cancer:

“It is with sadness that I inform the Townsville community the biopsy results have shown that Bishop Michael’s stomach cancer has now spread to his liver,” Acting Vicar General Fr Michael Taylor said today.  “It is untreatable and incurable, Bishop Michael will undergo a course of chemotherapy to alleviate some of the symptoms.”

...Bishop Michael Putney is 66 years old and was ordained as a priest in 1969 and ordained a Bishop on 27 July, 1995 -  Auxiliary Bishop, Brisbane.  He was announced as the 5th Bishop of Townsville in January 2001 and was installed in March that year.  He is currently a member of the Permanent Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Chair of Bishops’ Commission for Mission and Faith Formation, Catholic Co-Chairman of International Methodist / Roman Catholic Dialogue and Member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The original announcement that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and was in Brisbane receiving treatment came only on Monday; apparently he was diagnosed in mid-December.

A special Mass to pray for the bishop and all dealing with cancer at this time is scheduled to be held tomorrow night in Townsville Cathedral.

Please keep the bishop in your prayers.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

On feasting and fasting: It's still Christmastime!

Just thought it might be timely to remember that it is still actually the season of Christmas!

Although we are now past the Twelve Days of Christmas, and into Epiphanytide, it is worth remembering that the season of Epiphany is actually part of the greater Christmas season.

Mind you, Christmas has been getting shorter and shorter in recent times.

Once upon a time, Christmastide lasted until February 2, and the Feast of the Purification, so that it extended to forty days, mimicking and counter-balancing the length of Lent.  Indeed, if you say the 1962 version of the Divine Office, the Office of Our Lady on Saturday retains this extended Christmas season.

Then it was cutback, so as to end on January 13.  And the octave of Epiphany was eliminated.

In a way that is fair enough: the Church doesn't oblige us to do very much by way of fasting in Lent these days, so the need for a counter-balancing period of feasting also diminishes.

But perhaps we need to recover those cycles of fasting and feasting that so help to reinforce the message of the changing liturgical seasons...

Tony Abbott's views: insincere, repellent - and just wrong?!

Yesterday saw a disgraceful flurry of comments from assorted 'conservative' politicians in favour of IVF, including the news that another allegedly Catholic politician, SA's Christopher Pyne, not only supported IVF but that he and his wife had used it themselves.

But I have to admit I'd missed the article by Mr Abbott himself in this disgraceful campaign (thanks to the reader who pointed it out) in which he attempts to offer, as reader PM notes, the JFK defense that it isn't up to Government to make moral decisions for people!

The only problem is that this defense, which effectively sees an absolute divide between Church and State, rather than our faith informing what we do in the public square, is that it is completely counter to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

As Archbishop Chaput put it, the principles articulated in President Kennedy's famous Houston speech were “sincere, compelling, articulate—and wrong.”  Like many others I suspect, I'm rather less convinced of the first three descriptors in the current case.  But for those who want to give him the benefit of the doubt, consider what Mr Abbott actually said.

The JFK defense

Mr Abbott seems to think that governing is some morally neutral technocratic process that doesn't actually involve making moral choices - like say making laws that prohibit murder, and refuse to support it through taxpayer funding.  He claims that:

"A minister's job is to implement the policy of the government and to administer departmental programs. It is not to make moral decisions for people. Governments should do what's best based on expert advice and keep prudent control over expenditure, as taxpayer dollars are not inexhaustible, but otherwise leave people to decide what's right for them

And he then rejects any credit for his record when in Government:

"Contrary to myth, as health minister I never sought to restrict access to the morning-after pill, never sought to prevent the importation of RU486 and never sought to limit access to abortion."

In fact Mr Abbott then goes on to note that he even defended the use of taxpayer funding for IVF for older women!  So how is directing my hard earned contributions to indulging the consumerist attitude to children not a moral decision exactly?

IVF is an attack on women as well as murder

One of the saddest aspects of this shameless campaign for power is Mr Abbott's failure to recognise that IVF is actually an assault on women.  He comments in relation to his Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin's experience:

"I had some inkling of what IVF involved but hadn't really grasped the multitude of appointments, tests and, above all, injections: big needles, small needles, this drug, that drug. Then there was the roller coaster of raised and dashed hopes, month after month."

So why go through all of this?

Well, because many have this secularist notion that we can control every aspect of our bodies, even down to fertility.

We live in a society where people feel they are 'entitled' to a child, and for the Government to help them obtain one, no matter the circumstances.  Yet a society that is also prepared to murder its unborn rather than allow infertile couples to adopt.

And where most of the true cost of all this pressure to be 'perfect', even down to the shape of our genitals, is borne by women.

Which is worst, the Liberals or Labor?

A few people yesterday suggested that Abbott's comments may be disappointing but Labor are, on balance worse on this front, because they are led by an atheist.

I'm not a Gillard/Labor fan any longer (I can't forgive them for reopening Nauru inter alia) but I can't say that this argument seems to hold much water on the face of it.

For all their failings (most of which can be attributed to the legacy of Rudd), at least Labor do actually recognise that funding and other decisions actually do reflect our moral choices, and at least occasionally try to do the right thing, for example in moving forward on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and reform of welfare to discourage the rort that was the Sole Parent Pension.  Moreover, they've actually done a good job in managing the economy (thank goodness they've finally ditched that silly no deficit ever rhetoric) in a difficult international environment.

By contrast, the Opposition have consistently shown over the last two years that they reject the very foundations of our Constitution, through their rejection of the idea that legitimacy of Government depends on controlling the House of Representatives.

A judge found that assorted Queensland Liberals, led by the inimitable Mal Brough have actually attempted to pervert the justice system in a bid to oust the Speaker of the House.

They've adopted a 'just say no' attitude to all proposals, good and bad.

And they've made clear that their only moral compass is what will get them votes.

It is now absolutely clear that neither side is going to do anything positive on life issues unless we, the people, and can pressure them into doing so.

And since most of the time these issues are the subject of 'conscience' votes, we probably have to give a lot of weight to individual candidate views rather than worrying about which party we vote for.

Because at the party level, it's pretty much Hobson's choice as far as I can see...

PS A reader tells me that Mr Abbott is resident in the diocese of Broken Bay rather than Sydney, so no chance of his own bishop speaking up I guess (only nine months to go, though, before Bishop Walker turns 75!).

Still, that wouldn't normally stop the Cardinal speaking out on a matter of politics...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Tony Abbott's 'liberal 'catholicism'

For some conservative Catholics, Tony Abbott, current leader of the Opposition is the great hope.

I'm continually bemused as to why.

The latest contribution to my bemusement on this subject is an article on how he has been supporting his female Chief of Staff's efforts to conceive using IVF!

Abbott on life issues: a failing mark

In an article in Marie Claire magazine that appears to be yet another attempt to overcome Abbott's low standing with female voters, Ms Credlin apparently claims that Mr Abbott supports abortion, contraception and IVF:

"According to reports on Sunday, Ms Credlin told Mr Abbott: ''I will just never agree with you on abortion. I think you are opposed to it, desperately opposed to it, and you would ban it if you could.''

Mr Abbott replied: ''Well, that's just bullshit. I believe it should be safe, legal and rare.''

Mr Abbott, who is a Catholic, also told her he strongly supported IVF and did not oppose contraception.

And he has apparently been supportive of her own efforts, even to allowing her to store fertility drugs in the Office fridge....

The official Church position on IVF is that it is not permitted, even within marriage, and even where no third party donation is involved, because, amongst other things, the procedure inevitably separates procreation from the conjugal act, and almost invariably involves the destruction of fetuses in the process.  You can read the full details of the arguments here in the official Vatican document, or read the Queensland Bioethics Centres' explanation of it here.

So I'm waiting (without any great expectation) for his bishop, Cardinal Pell, to publicly correct him on this subject...

Abbott's patchy record

I can perfectly understand conservatives (or indeed anyone's) desperation to find an alternative to the Gillard regime.

And it's not like the alternative contenders within the Liberal-National coalition (or Labor for that matter) are any better on these issues.

It is also true that as Health Minister under PM Howard Abbott took some positive steps, for example in funding genuine pregnancy support services and fighting the good fight on RU 486.

But as the ABC's Chris Uhlmann (who has strong pro-life credentials), has pointed out, when it comes to a perceived choice between getting elected and compromising his faith, Abbott chooses electoral expediency every time.

Commenting on David Marr's Quarterly Essay on Abbott, Uhlmann rejects the claims of those like Gerald Henderson that Marr's anti-Catholicism prejudices led to an unfair portrayal of Abbott's religious views.  Uhlmann argues, correctly in my view, that looking at the effects of Abbott's faith on his politics is perfectly legitimate:

"It's perfectly reasonable for Tony Abbott's political life to be informed by his Catholicism; many Greens are informed by a modern take on pantheism and no one seems troubled by that. And it's arguable that some of his best political impulses are those shaped by a rich tradition of theology and philosophy. It was therefore essential for Marr to examine the Opposition leader's faith, because it is impossible to understand Tony Abbott without it."

Uhlmann argues though that Marr missed the real issue:

What should have been the talking point of the essay is the glaring fault-line Marr draws between Tony's faith and Abbott's ruthless pragmatism. Tony's better angels have ever been at war with Abbott's earthly ambitions, a tension that appears even in his decision to train for the priesthood at St Patrick's College, Manly. Why? "He wanted to be Archbishop of Sydney," Father Michael Kelly told Four Corners in 2010. Given the church leadership's immersion in the darker arts of politics for nearly 2000 years, Father Kelly might have added St John Chrysostom's observation that, "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."

Tony is guided by Christ's distillation of the law: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Abbott is driven by a parody of that dictum coined by another Catholic politician, James Curley, the three-time Boston mayor: "Do others, or they will do you."

In short, Abbott looks much more like those US Democrats who claim to be Catholic yet seem to think that doesn't actually require them to oppose abortion or defend religious freedom for those who actually do adhere to the teachings of the Church than he does a genuine conservative Catholic.

Can a politician win by standing up for truth?

The problem for Catholic politicians of actually standing up for the truth on life issues is that most of them think that they will get elected despite their pro-life views rather than because of them.  They may well be right, though there is some counter-evidence for example in the last Victorian State election.

Yet I think Abbott's problem actually lies more in the perception that there is a disjunction between his real views and what he says publicly than in what his views actually are.

If a politician actually stood up and said 'I oppose abortion because I oppose killing babies and hate what it is doing to women and our society', there are many feminists who would attack him or her viciously.

But I think many more Australians would respect the integrity of their views, even if they didn't agree with them.

They might even still vote for them.  Former PM John Howard, after all, was re-elected even after leading the fight for gun reform against the views of much of his own constituency.

And what's the point of being in politics at all if you aren't prepared to fight for a better society?  If Catholic politicians aren't prepared to fight the good fight on these issues, then it really does become hard to escape Uhlmann's conclusion that they are just in it out of naked ambition...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Walking for life: Brisbane to Melbourne Crossroads walk

It was particularly appropriate that on the day we celebrate (amongst other things) the adoration of the Christ-child by the Magi, that we had a short pro-life talk today after Mass from Daniel Mount on behalf of Crossroads Australia.

Walking Brisbane to Melbourne!

Crossroads is a pro-life youth organization that is American in origin, but is gradually spreading around the world, and this is the first year they have tried the organization's characteristic long marches for life - in the US they do coast to coast walks that end up in Washington DC.

In Australia, they are making it Brisbane to Melbourne, some 1500 kilometres, and they started back in mid-December, and aim to arrive in Melbourne at the end of this week.

In the US I gather they literally walk all the way.  In our rather tougher summer climate and dispersed populations, they are walking around 20 to 25 kilometres a day, and driving another 80 or so in order to stop at population centres, with breaks over the weekend, so they can sort out logistics, make contact with local pro-life groups and individuals, and so forth.  In fact, I gather that this first time is something of a scouting expedition aimed at sorting out the logistics for a more full-scale event next year.

Along the way, they hear Mass daily, pray litanies and the rosary and so forth, so it's a real pilgrimage in effect.

In any case, this weekend's Canberra stopover involved visits and talks to a number of parishes by members of the group of twelve walkers, a great way to evangelize!

What you can do...

The group heads to Wagga tomorrow, so if you are reading this from there, please look out for them as they head into town!  Their other scheduled stops this week are Benalla and Seymour, before finally making it to Melbourne (there's an end of walk rally scheduled for Jan 12 there).

But their real mission is to urge people to get engaged - join the local pro-life organization, offer your fasting and prayers to the cause of protecting the unborn (and, as some parishioners at my local church emphasized, protecting women), to look to see what else you can do in a practical way.

It sounds like a great concept (though I'm not sure December-January is the time of year I'd pick to go walking any distance in Australia, particularly given the heatwave we are currently enjoying!).

So keep the walkers in your prayers, and think about joining in with some or all of this event next year...

Feast of the Epiphany

Friday, 4 January 2013

I had a nightmare - priestesses arise!

This video is appearing on numerous blogs, but it's so irresistibly bad I have to share - the best argument ever for why we don't need women priests.

And it comes from those lobbying for it....

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Soho Gay Mass has gone: what about Sydney?!

A reader has alerted me that one of those unfortunate legacies of the liberal era, the so-called 'gay Mass' regularly held in Soho in London has finally been closed down, perhaps following pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.  Instead the Church is to be given to the Ordinariate.

So let's hope Sydney's similarly scandalous 'gay Masses' will also soon be shutdown, since they reflected exactly the same philosophy as the Soho group.

One of the unfortunate legacies of the liberal era has been so-called 'gay masses', promoting 'acceptance' of homosexuality and worse, 'gay culture', rather than helping those with same-sex attraction to practice chastity and adopt a genuinely Catholic identity.

There are groups, such as Courage, that genuinely try and help - and there are those that simply subvert Catholic teaching.

The same sex marriage debate has rather sharpened the debate - and the UK bishops were just as reluctant as many Australian ones to actually come out and clearly articulate the Churches teaching on this subject, coming out with all sorts of rationalisations and irresponsible compromises, for example, in support of civil partnerships as an alternative.

It is good to see things happening to correct this in the UK.

Let's hope there is a swift flow-on here...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The eighth day of Christmas: Happy New Year!

Hppay New year!

I hope this one will be a healthy, happy and holy one for you.

There is another indulgence available today (plenary if recited publicly) for the Veni Creator said on the first day of the new year:

VENI, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.

Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav'nly gift of God most high,
Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.