The Cardinal, the Archbishop and the supermarket

The headline sounds like the start of some sort of joke, but those three elements combined to create a story that we can file away in the “all’s well that ends well” category. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras was considered one of the possible successors to Pope John Paul II back in 2005, but as we now know, Pope Benedict XVI — Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — had that distinction. He’s still considered an influential member of the College of … Continue reading

Worst typo in history?

As someone who writes a lot, I make more than my share of grammatical and typographical errors, although hopefully I catch most of them in the editing process. As someone who also reads a lot, I’m constantly confronted with errors that journalists have made and subeditors have failed to correct. Bring me the list of the worst publication mistakes, though, and the errors on that list surely would have stiff competition in an absolute clanger from the Vatican themselves. What … Continue reading

Les Not-so Miserables

If you’re a long-time reader of The Soapbox, thanks — first of all. But secondly, you’re probably aware that I’m quite a fan of Les Miserables: the stage show and, less so, the movie that came out last year and I saw three times at the cinema. In addition to really liking the music, Les Mis has some strong religious components that make it a great story of inspiration for those of faith and hopefully gives non-religious viewers an appreciation … Continue reading

Priest “meeting people where they are”

Most organisations and companies are a little more advanced than the Catholic Church when it comes to marketing our brand and sharing our message with those we don’t already know. We’re pretty good at looking after those we’re already in contact with, but our advertising managers — if we had such people — aren’t doing a great job in reaching the masses. Well, we actually do have “advertising managers”. I call them priests — and bishops, cardinals, the Pope, religious … Continue reading

Great wisdom from Francis — the other one

At work each week, we produce an e-newsletter that’s sent around the Catholic Health Australia network and beyond. At the start of last year, a new plan was hatched whereby we’d start each newsletter with some sort of reflection, which usually takes the form of a quote from a great person, living or dead, that can in some way inspire the people who read the newsletter. We often look at feast days just before or just after the day of … Continue reading

Not so fast, Mister

There was understandably a great deal of excitement in Argentina — and South America more broadly — when Pope Francis was elected as the first Latin American pontiff. There were a range of reasons for that to be celebrated, along with many other aspects of his background, and the fact World Youth Day in Brazil would become Francis’s first international trip was fitting, as he returned to his home continent. People in Argentina and around Latin America have been looking … Continue reading

Good news from the seminaries

For years — decades, even — there has been a sense of despair about the shortage of priests and shortage of young men putting their hands up to enter seminaries. I’ve expressed some different views on the priest shortage and the challenges that presents, but there are also opportunities that exist under those circumstances. But let’s park that idea of priest shortages for a moment to digest the news from the US that seminary enrollments are experiencing a big resurgence. … Continue reading

It’s altar server week on the Soapbox

Earlier this week, I shared the story of the controversy — if we can call it that — around Archbishop Julian Porteous’s comments about his preference that women not be altar servers, though he didn’t have a concern about girls being altar servers. Because his comments came within a couple of days of taking over in his new archdiocese of Hobart, the comments were not taken well by some of the locals, partly because of reasons of gender discrimination and … Continue reading

Altar boys, altar girls, altar men, altar women?

It’s little more than a week since Archbishop Julian Porteous was installed as the new Archbishop of Hobart on the island state of Tasmania. I’ve mentioned Archbishop Porteous on the Soapbox before, primarily for two reasons. The first was the possibility that he would become my new bishop here in Canberra, which has obviously not transpired. The other was his establishment of the online Catholic radio station, Cradio, which is overseen by my friend Sarah Coppola — now Juszczak. It … Continue reading

Back from the wilderness

A combination of illness, travel and moving house have all created a perfect storm over the past month or so, but it’s time for me to return from the wilderness and get back up on the Soapbox. I mean, there’s been a lot going on, to say the least. The major moment was the release of Pope Francis’s interview with a fellow Jesuit that has appeared or will appear in a large number of Catholic journals and was all over … Continue reading