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

Habemus episcopum

I know, I know. Where the heck have I been? And during and after a Catholic new media conference!! Must be close to a cardinal sin. Let’s just say it has been a manic month for me and it will continue for a few more days as I prepare to move to a new apartment this weekend. I had planned to wait until the move was complete before returning to the Soapbox, but as the headline of my post suggests, … Continue reading

Pope calls on athletes to ACTUALLY be role models

I am mindful that society often puts a lot of pressure on famous people — be they entertainers, sportspeople, politicians or others in the limelight — who haven’t asked to be place on a pedestal to act as role models, especially for young people. For better or for worse, children look up to their sporting or entertainment heroes and imitate what they do, which can be a source of disappointment when it’s poor behaviour that the kids are following. Probably … Continue reading

The case of the mystery priest — solved!

Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of websites were abuzz a few days ago with stories of a “saint” or an “angel” who looked like a priest and appeared at the scene of a car crash in the US last week. He anointed and prayed with a crash victim and first responders, bringing a sense of calm over all of them and then seemingly disappeared into thin air. This all took place in an area that had been cordoned off by … Continue reading

Thinking way outside the (confession) box

I often look at some of the worship practices that our Protestant brothers and sisters use and wonder how the Catholic Church might be able to weave them into our practices in a useful way. On face value, the idea of drive-thru prayer venues might seem a tad crazy. But when you look more closely, it makes a bit more sense. In a world that’s getting busier and busier — or at least seems to be — shouldn’t we be … Continue reading

What did Pope Francis mean about a deeper “theology of women”?

Journalists (and former journalists) are often not afraid to weigh in on issues when they really have no expertise. Sometimes the need to fill a newspaper column or to stand on a soapbox can be too tempting to turn down when there’s a topic that’s calling for commentary to be shared. I’m going to exercise some restraint, though, on the topic of the “theology of women” that Pope Francis spoke about last week on the flight that became famous for … Continue reading

Life in a monastery? No thanks, I’ll take prison

It’s not exactly news, but the power of the Internet — and Facebook in particular — introduced me to a story that piqued my interest in a big way. A couple of friends posted this story in the past couple of days. In January last year, an Italian thief who had been sentenced to time in a monastery to pay for his crimes escaped for a second time. Why? The Daily Mail explains: A convicted criminal who was serving out … Continue reading