Speaking to a Secular Age

Margaret Somerville
Issue 26, November 2008

Battles in the public square are won with words - but which ones?

Recently, Professor Margaret Somerville gave an opening address at the 2008 Catholic Media Convention, "Proclaim it from the Rooftops", held in Toronto, Canada. Following are some of the themes and issues she raised in her speech.


Living Persons and Natural Bodies

Rev Dr Gerald Gleeson
Issue 27, April 2009

While preparing this lecture I was struck by the following headline: "Natural and healthy pushing ethical and green off the shelf". The story reported that:

The most frequently used word on new products in the last year was 'natural'... Natural appeared on nearly one in four products...a 9 per cent increase on the previous year (The Sydney Morning Herald, 5th Feb 2009, p. 24)

As a Catholic ethicist, I was struck by this story because an understanding of what is 'natural' has long been at the heart of our Catholic ethical tradition, which is rightly known as a Natural Law tradition. In this lecture I will explore a common objection to Catholic moral teachings, and to the recently developed "Theology of the Body", namely, that Church teachings exaggerate what is supposedly "natural", at the expense of what is good for us as persons.


Let Justice Flow Like a River

The Historical and Doctrinal Roots of Catholic Social Teaching

Rev Dr Neil Vaney
Issue 28, August 2009


Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is always hard pressed to respond to the innovations of technology or the rapidly changing economic climate. Current examples of this occur in the debate over the experimental use of cells from human zygotes, and the responsibility for the collapse of huge financial institutions in the United States of America over the last two years. The technical nature of such discussions causes non-experts to lose sight that at the base of such disputes are values - such as the dignity and call of each human being by God - that go back to the earliest biblical passages. The aim of this essay is to show how the massive corpus of CST of roughly the last one hundred and twenty years is firmly rooted in the earliest biblical writings which were then elaborated upon in patristic and medieval teaching.


Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the New Zealand Envoy

Issue 28, August 2009

"It is From God That Men and Women Receive Their Essential Dignity"

The following is the address Pope Benedict XVI gave in writing to Robert Carey Moore-Jones, the new New Zealand ambassador to the Holy See.


Families – Why the Families Commission Chose Function over Form

Sharron Cole
Issue 28, August 2009

In July 2004, the New Zealand Families Commission came into existence and I, along with five others, was appointed as a Commissioner. The interview process was demanding and exhaustive and amongst many questions we were asked our views on marriage and "family form". Interestingly, each of us was a partner in long standing marriages, and all of us were committed to our various faiths. A reasonable inference to be drawn therefore is that we all believed in marriage as an institution and that we all had Christian values. This is ironic given that the Families Commission is strongly criticised by some because it has never defined families as "married father and mother and the children". In fact, it has never defined family form at all. Why not?


Reflections of a Pastor

Monsignor John Carde MBE
Issue 29, November 2009

As I write there is uproar about funding being withdrawn from severely handicapped children. We admire the efforts of parents who care for their handicapped child – what courage they show over the long haul.


Editorial: Nathaniel (Hebrew: "Gift of God")

Michael McCabe
Issue 30, April 2010

Nathaniel Liam McCabe Knoef was born on December 12, 1998 and died on February 2, 1999. He lived for seven and a half weeks. At his farewell Mass I offered the following reflection on his short life:

...Nathaniel you have shown us with Martine and Stephen that Christ is not separate from the rhythm of life and death but is present – so totally present that all suffering and disappointment can be redemptive. What does that mean?


Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

 Issue 30, April 2010

Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life about the issues that revolve around the theme of bioethics.