Beauty: Is it really in the eye of the beholder?

When one reflects on the changes that have taken place in the Catholic Church over the past 50 years, many of them have been controversial for one reason or another. While there is some difference of opinion, the majority of Catholics seem to have come to accept that the change to Mass being celebrated in the local language was a good one. The ability for lay Catholics to engage more fully in the Mass is surely a good thing. Liturgy … Continue reading

Vatican priest’s firing surely what he expected

It’s been such a long time since I posted on Catholic Soapbox, some of you may have forgotten what my modus operandi is. As I re-emerge from beneath the Soapbox, my first post back brings together two of my favourite topics and one of the key intersections that led to the creation of the blog – the junction of Catholicism and the media. You no doubt saw the headlines last week… “Gay priest to be stripped of duties at Vatican” “Vatican sacks … Continue reading

Political pet peeve

If you’re a political junkie like me, living in a country like Australia, with its multiple tiers of government, is a beautiful thing. In New Zealand, there’s the general election every three years and the boredom of local body politics, but nothing like the rhythm of federal elections with state and territory elections scattered throughout the federal cycle. It is heaven. The US was even more intoxicating. But sometimes, it can be political observer hell. Or a cause of great … Continue reading

“We can no longer watch from the sidelines”

It’s not unusual for me and other Catholic bloggers in New Zealand to lament the choices the country’s Catholic bishops make when deciding whether or not to weigh into public debate. Some trivial issues are sometimes commented on while other seemingly important issues are “allowed to go through to the wicketkeeper”, to use a timely sporting analogy during the Cricket World Cup. Well, it’s another sporting analogy that has earned the Kiwi bishops a massive thumbs up from me — … Continue reading

Unsolicited, tardy advice for Cardinal Dew

In just a few days, Archbishop John Dew of Wellington will become Cardinal John Dew of some ancient diocese or other. For our purposes, we’ll ignore the protocol of titles like Cardinal-Designate; it’s just a bit too cumbersome. You may have read my thoughts on Cardinal Dew being on Pope Francis’s latest list of international cardinals or you may have heard my musings on The 15th Station podcast. If you didn’t, the long and short of my analysis is that … Continue reading

New Zealand’s cardinal total doubled

It’s only the middle of January and it’s already been a big year for the Catholic Church in New Zealand. In fact, it’s possibly the biggest year for the Church since 1986 — when Pope John Paul II visited the country. On January 1 (it was actually announced the day before), Br Patrick Lynch, the head of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, was made a knight, becoming Sir Br Patrick Lynch for his 21 years as head of the … Continue reading

BishFish becomes ArchBishFish

For many months — and especially in recent weeks — I’ve been thinking that it’s about time to get back on The Catholic Soapbox and resume my pontificating about pontificates. As it turns out, my return has been prompted by an episcopate, and that of Sydney in particular. You see, last Wednesday was the installation of now-Archbishop Anthony Fisher as the ninth archbishop of Sydney. I was recently made aware that His Grace has been affectionately known to many as … Continue reading

Memo to CNN: The Pope’s Catholic

I’m not sure if anyone missed me, but I’m back on deck after a period of manic busyness and with some advice for CNN anchor and former foreign correspondent supreme Christiane Amanpour, who now has her own show on the network. And, like so many mainstream journalists, she’s been fascinated by the first (almost) nine months of Pope Francis’s pontificate. A few days ago, she was examining a very important and troubling development in Belgium, where politicians are debating whether … Continue reading

Catholic comedy club

The Alfred E. Smith Dinner is one of the biggest Catholic fundraising events held around the world and probably also one of the most controversial. Hosted by the Archbishop of New York and held since 1945, the dinner honours the governor of New York in the early 20th century who would go on to become the first Catholic presidential candidate. The memorial dinner brings together luminaries from the Church, politics, business and all walks of life and this year raised … Continue reading

Vocations “surge” in the UK

When it comes to religious vocations, it’s reasonable to wonder if we will ever see a return to the huge numbers of men and women joining religious orders during previous centuries, including in the middle of the last century — the most recent example of a surge in vocations. In the West, at least, there has been a constant decline in religious vocations for several decades, particularly in the past 30 years or so. Of all places, though, the UK … Continue reading