The Catholic Church and reflections on sexual morality

December 3, 2013 at 5:27 am (Catholic Church, Commentary)

Birth Control

Sexual Morality 1

Sexual Morality 2

Sexual Morality 3

Sexual Morality 4

Sexual Morality 5

The links above on Sexual Morality are taken from a book by James Wall, What Do We Know, What Can We Believe? Challenging Traditional Beliefs and Practices,  Ginninderra Press, Charnwood ACT, 2001

James Wall

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The credibility of the Church

December 2, 2013 at 2:03 am (Catholic Church, Commentary, Pope Francis)

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

Lewis Carrol:- The Walrus and the Carpenter.

Yes, indeed it is the time to speak of the Catholic Church! Why you ask? Perhaps some recognition should be given to the current questionnaire and survey that Pope Francis wants Catholics to participate in.

Before I start I suggest you click on Will Heaven’s piece which I completely agree with:

Let me suggest a number of simple questions that could have been put to the faithful and not so faithful:

1. Do you agree with the Church’s position on birth control and contraception?

2. In your opinion is all conscious sex outside marriage a mortal sin?

(It is generally agreed that wet dreams are sinless.)

3. Are there ever circumstances where gay sexual unions are blameless?

4. Is the only license endorsing sexual activity for the faithful granted through the sacramentality of marriage?

5. Do you agree that males are the only people who can be ordained to the priesthood?

6. Should the Catholic clergy be allowed to marry?

7. Do you agree that it is a mortal sin to not hear Mass on Sundays and Days of Holy Obligation?

8. Should the Church generally allow in parishes the practice of the Third Rite of Confession?

9. Would you be disappointed if there are no changes to the Church’s present official position on many questions of faith and morals?

10.  Pope Francis seems to be telling us that the Church in the past has been too obsessed with, in my words, questions concerning the bedroom, and if there is not some sort of balance he states that “…the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” Following on from this, in your opinion, is the Church now in a credibility crisis?

The time has definitely come to ask with the Walrus:

… why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings (?)


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A wake up call addressed to the Catholic Church

October 20, 2013 at 3:09 am (Catholic Church, Commentary, James Wall, philosophy, theology)

Sexual Morality 1

Sexual Morality 2

Sexual Morality 3

Sexual Morality 4

Sexual Morality 5

James Wall

Click on the above links and read a wake up call to the Catholic Church to update their code of sexual morality.

Source: What do we know, What can we Believe?

               Challenging Traditional Beliefs and Practices      James Wall

First published 2001  by Ginninderra Press

Printout of the above links pp 43-50:

Sexual Morality

ln the opinion of very many members of the Church, the area in

which it most needs to update its teaching is sexual morality. Church

authorities have intruded into this area to a most unwarranted extent.

They have reached conclusions which seem both ludicrous

and at variance with the welfare of church members. Their concentration

on sexual morality has resulted in a disproportionate significance being given to

this one area of conduct. The inability to adapt to the reality experienced by

most people living active sex lives today has brought into question the whole

teaching authority of the Church across the breadth of Christian beliefs and practices.

It is therefore worth considering this matter in some detail.

As far as my research for this book has been able to determine,

the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on sex derives from a

standpoint of philosophy, rather than from revelation or from a

strictly theological perspective, and is coloured by an asceticism

that acknowledges no inherent benefit in pleasure. According to

this asceticism, all pleasure is there for a purpose, to ensure the

bringing about of an end that would otherwise not occur. The only

justification for pleasure in this view is the fulfilment of the purpose

it is supposed to effect. Thus, people have pleasure in eating

in order to ensure that their bodies are nourished. It could be questioned

whether they would starve themselves if eating were not a

pleasure. Despite that, it is difficult to see how pleasure could not

be inherent in the act of eating, especially for the undernourished

and for growing children. Of course the pleasure does not incline

everyone to eat only food of appropriate nourishment and sufficient

but not excessive quantity.

Pleasure, according to the Church’s apparent view as presented

by ecclesiastic authorities, merely ensures that a divine purpose is

fulfilled. The Church presumably sees no value in pleasure as something

beneficial in itself that can help human beings live better and

more satisfying lives or even as an aid in maintaining sanity in the

face of the stresses most people experience.

In the Church’s traditional teaching, the principal purpose of

sex, the sexual joining of a man and a woman, is the propagation of

the human race. Furlhermore, the Church regarded that end alone

as necessitating the joining of the sexes. Despite more recent acknowledgment

that sexual intercourse also has affective and bonding

significance for couples, the Church still seems to imply that


any essential benefit to the two partners apart from conception could

be achieved by other means. Following this line of reasoning, the

Church has concluded that each and every act ofsexual intercourse

must be open to the primary purpose of conception, despite the fact

that conception will not be a real possibility during a large proportion

of most couples’ active sex lives. It also begs the question as to

why sexual appetite should remain long after fertility has ceased.

Apart from partial or total abstinence, the church hierarchy does

not approve any use of human ingenuity in sexual relations calculated

to space out and/or limit the number of children conceived.

The Church now acknowledges two functions in sexual relations,

the unitive function and the procreation function, as already

mentioned. It is arbitrary, however, to maintain that men and women

may never separate these functions. Nature itself ensures that the

procreative function is not operative during most of the menstrual

cycle and not at all after menopause, and the rhythm method ol’

fertility control, which the Church approves, deliberately sets out

to exploit the separation.

Church authorities have become locked into a quite mechanical

assessment of sexual intercourse, which at times seems to be at

odds even with the key purpose, the possibility of which they claim

is mandatory on all occasions. One may wonder whether that is

because the men (it is only men) who formulated the teaching arc

also charged to be celibate. Although, superficially, it may be thought

that celibacy could produce objectivity, as celibate clergy have no

vested interest in this matter, it would seem more likely to pose a

barrier to understanding. Aperson who takes a vow in good faith to

remain celibate cannot engage in sexual activity without breaching

the vow and incurring guilt in doing so. He or she cannot even

mentally entertain such activity without at least entering what the

Church calls an occasion of sin. Sex under these circumstances

becomes something to be fought against. That is quite at odds with


the joyful experience of men and women living a loving, sexually

active life together. They will experience anticipation of their physical

union, prolonged enjoyment through restraint in meeting each

other’s mood and timing, and feel joy in each other for some time

after intimacy. Unforlunately, not all couples maintain the experience

of such intimacy.

It is difficult to see how those voluntarily committed to celibacy

could achieve the same understanding as a couple living together

of the meaning of sexual activity in human life. Of course, it cannot

be denied that celibacy can bring other advantages or that there

may be benefits in the Church having some celibate clergy.

An example of how the Church has allowed itself to become

locked into a mechanical and seemly contradictory position on sex

can be seen from the implications of the ‘Ethical and Religious

Dictates for Catholic Health Care Services’ issued by the National

Conference of Bishops (USA) in November 1994.It states,

Homologous fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve

conception by use of gametes of the two spouses joined in marriage)

is prohibited when it separates procreation from the marital act in its

unitive significance (e.g. any technique used to achieve extra-corporeal


Thus, in cases in which there is difficulty in getting spem to

penetrate beyond the cervix, it is said that the directive would permit

the use of a condom, provided it had a hole to enable some

ejaculate to escape during intercourse and possibly lead to fertilisation.

The whole reason for the condom in such cases is to trap the

ejaculate so that it may subsequently be injected to achieve conception.

A hole, therefore, would hardly facilitate accomplishment

of the primary purpose as enunciated by the Church. Furthermore,

it would seem incongruous for a group of bishops to sit down and

formulate a detailed dictate to this effect.


A newspaper reported another odd application of this teaching

that includes a ban on contraception. Although evidence has not

been found to verify the story, nor has a refutation of it been discovered,

even though the story has had wide circulation. European

missionary nuns, in danger of being raped during conflict in an

African country, are said to have requested permission to take the

contraceptive pill to guard against becoming pregnant. The local

bishop is said to have denied their request on the grounds that it

was against the Church’s teaching to artificially interfere with conception.

One can only wonder at the bishop’s reasoning and at why

the nuns felt any need to seek his permission.

The Church’s position on contraception may have made sense

at an earlier time. Then, for instance, infant and child mortality was

high; the requirements of formal education for children were negligible

or non existent; the labour of children was most useful or

even necessary for family support; and there seemed to be no limit

to the number of people the earth could accommodate. It makes

little or no sense now. Population growth threatens the capacity of

the earth to support the number of people who will shortly inhabit

the planet. Childhood labour is generally and appropriately outlawed,

at least in developed countries. Adequate education for living

in the contemporary world can take until a child turns eighteen

years or much older. The expectation of life at birth is considerably

over seventy years. Furthermore, couples in the child-bearing ages

tend to ignore the hierarchy’s teaching in the interests of their marital

stability, their obligations to existing children and their capacity

to fulfil demands on them as individuals, parents, workers and citizens.

For some couples, the teaching causes stress, unhappiness

and/or financial hardship. For some it can occasion marital breakdown.

The reality for young couples in many countries today entails

twenty years or much more of responsibility for the education and


support of each of their children. They also face the prospect of

unemployment in middle age and beyond and of extended periods

out of work for their offspring after the latter reach adulthood. The

current teaching allows couples little hope for a responsible approach

to environmental concems in the light of world population

growth. Perhaps it relies on ‘God will provide’. Ordinary people

do not have that luxurY.

Considering the positive effects of an active sex life in a loving

relationship, there would seem to be little valid purpose in placing

unnecessary restrictions on it or in denying it to fertile couples who

have a compelling reason for not producing children or not producing

more children. A satisfying sex life together can be a lifelong

blessing for a couple but some men and women are not dissuaded

from fiustrating even this side of their lives without any need for

misdirection from church authorities. Nevertheless, it is quite clear

that substantial numbers ignore the church’s prohibition against

so-called artificial birth control, apparently with clear consciences

and despite the notions of sin and guilt that have been projected

onto this aspect of human behaviour.

Provided that couples have a sincere respect, or preferably a

deep love, for each other, the mechanics of their mutual sexual activity

should be irrelevant to a church. Perhaps the church fears

that any weakening of the nexus between sexual relations and the

propagation of children would remove the moral censure from sex

outside marriage. That is not necessarily so, although there would

seem to be a good case for the degree of censure to depend on the


The Catholic Church had a chance to develop its teaching consistently

with contemporary reality during and in the aftermath of

the Second Vatican Council. The chance was lost when Pope Paul

the Sixth withdrew the matter from the assembly of the council

and then rejected the recommendation of the commission he had


established to examine it. The encyclical, Humanae Vitae, reaffirming

the prohibition of artificial birth control, was published in 1968.

The encyclical gave more weight to not contradicting the outdated

line of the Pope’s predecessors than to compassion for those

affected or to the changed circumstances of married couples during

their child-bearing years in the twentieth century. The chance was

lost to develop a policy which reflected the growth in knowledge,

consequent changes in perception and altered conditions in the

world. The encyclical unleashed widespread disenchantment with

the Church’s teaching authority, known as the magisterium, from

which the Church has not recovered. Later authoritarian reassertion

of the ecclesiastic prohibition on birth control has done nothing

to improve the situation.

Another aspect of sexual morality is also ripe for revision. It is

now widely recognised that sexual orientation is genetically determined.

Consequently, the Church’s attitude to homosexuality needs

reappraisal. A complication may exist because some married men

also exhibit homosexual tendencies and some married women are

attracted to lesbian relationships.It may be just as relevant, of course,

that some married people are attracted to and also experience heterosexual

relations outside their marriages but that is not a condemnation

of heterosexual activity as such.

Extramarital sexual activities constitute a breach of trust where

the couple has a commitment to exclusivity in their sex life and

should be censured on that account, although there may well be

mitigating circumstances. There is a similar commitment in the unions

formed by many contemporary young people but without the

formality of marriage. It could be argued that there should be a

mechanism for the recognition of such unions. In a Christian marriage,

after all, the partners themselves are the celebrants of the

sacramental union freely entered into through their mutual commitment

to each other. The civil law in Australian and some other


countries, for instance, has come to recognise mutual property rights

in ‘de facto’ relationships in the interests of justice between the


Some couples, however, marry without any commitment to exclusive

sexual rights and there are casual relationships that also

lack that commitment. In those cases it could not be claimed that

extramarital sex or sex with other partners was a breach of trust,

but the moral force of the marriage could be questioned, and sex

without commitment could hardly be considered virtuous. Some

unions between same-sex couples do seem to entail commitment

akin to that in a fully committed marriage.

When the practice of taking people into slavery was more common,

the Church agreed to permit spouses to remarry who had been

denied contact with their husbands or wives after the latter were

taken into slavery. Consideration now seems overdue with respect

to other conditions that effectively terminate a marriage and may

warrant acceptance by the Church of the right to remarry for a husband

or wife.


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Time and illusion by Antony Ruhan

October 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm (Catholic Church, Commentary, Jesuits in Australia)

The email that Greg O’Kelly forwarded recalls the colonial, museum mentality of many catholics.  It says: ‘The church is grandiose, magnificent, …,’ and talks of  St.Peter’s basilica, etc.  It also emphasised the exclusivity of catholicism: ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’.  What many catholics still wonder is whether the bishops themselves have managed to rid themselves of the indoctrination that masquerades as philosophy and theology in the catholic church.Our problem as humans is that the world is bigger than we are: it escapes our monkey minds.  And time baffles us, although we catholics talk as though we are familiar with eternity, when we are not.  Time is relative to us.  Schroedinger put Einstein’s insight well: ‘Eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that  has no end.’  Einstein’s theory gives the best account of the universe on the big scale. It also points us toward eternity, which is mysterious.  We don’t have it in our pockets.

We are habituated to think of time as a succession of events, linked or not linked.  But the succession is only of  our separate returns to the present.  The past does not exist: we have memory traces of parts of it in our heads now.  The future does not exist: we have dreams of it in our heads now.  Wittgenstein wrote: “If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration, but timelessness, eternal life is theirs who live in the present.”  Einstein said: “There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

The catholic doctrine of creation needs to be broadly taken.  The Holy Spirit was, is, always active.  After the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of  “The Origin of the Species” in 2009, evolutionists have been verifying dates.  Perhaps homo sapiens came out of Africa seventy thousand years ago – and not one hundred thousand – and settled near Karnatika in south India.  Did the Holy Spirit not inspire the writers of the Veda, the Brahmanas, the Upanishads and … the Bhagavad Gita, when the Vedic peoples came through Punjab three or more thousand years ago?  Did the Holy Spirit not enlighten Sakyamuni when he left his kingdom  more than two thousand years ago to learn the origin of human suffering (and so became the Buddha).  He said: “Dry up the remains of your past and have nothing for your future.  If you do not cling to the present then you can go from place to place in peace.”

Perhaps more than two thousand five hundred years ago the Old Man (Lao Tzu in Chinese, No Ja in Korean) retired to a cave and began his book, which perhaps his followers titled ‘The Book on the Power of the Way’:  ‘The Way (Tao) you can go isn’t  the real way.  The name you can say isn’t the real name.  Heaven and earth begin in the unnamed: name’s the mother of the ten thousand things.  So the unwanting soul sees what’s hidden, and the ever-wanting soul sees only what it wants.  Two things, one origin, but different in name, whose identity is mystery.  Mystery of all mysteries!  The door to the hidden.’  Master Kung (or Confucius) is said to have visited Lao Tzu in his cave, perhaps to discuss his desire for the union of heaven and earth.

In the 80’s some anthropologists were suggesting that humans populated the highlands of Papua New Guinea forty or so thousand years ago.  Some of the different clans on the coast west of Port Moresby found Congregationalism with its separate communities more congenial to their separate lives than the one form imposed on all clans by the catholic missionaries.  Others anthropologists think they have found human remains from seventy thousand years ago in an Australian lake.  Some missionaries are trying to harmonise the Dream Time and the Song Lines with the catholic doctrine of creation.

All of this and much more has not prevented European catholic missionaries from imposing their beliefs on non-European peoples as their confreres despoiled them.  They might have done well, as Chesterton wrote: ‘to put their heads into the heavens and not try to put the heavens into their heads.’  Some think that the Vatican surpasses the Kremlin as a rigid, backward-looking bureaucracy.

As for Pope Francis – he does well to point out that  what would have worried and does concern the Lord Jesus – if that is the right word – is the poor, the homeless and the persecuted.  He says that we ought to do something about this present evil and not just talk and write about it.

Antony Ruhan SJ

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Have the Gates of Hell prevailed against the Church?

July 28, 2013 at 5:03 am (Catholic Church, Commentary)

Vatican offers ‘time off purgatory’ to followers of Pope Francis tweets

Papal court handling pardons for sins says contrite Catholics may win ‘indulgences’ by following World Youth Day on Twitter

The Guardian 17 July, 2013

This should impress the modern world no end!

What in the name of Heaven is the Church doing about the causes of sex abuse committed by its clergy?

Is anyone questioning the wisdom of compulsory celibacy for priests?

The Church’s irrational position on artificial birth control needs modification to say the least.

I would not think that time off from Purgatory would be a great seller to induce Catholics, particularly the young, to return to the practice of their faith.

Pope Francis, if he doesn’t get his act together soon will prove to be just as reactionary as the two previous holders of his office.

Look at the present inquiry in Newcastle into paedophile Catholic clergy, and the manoeuvres of Fr Lucas, a witness for the Church.

The impression most would have of the Church after following this inquiry is very aptly summed up in an editorial in the SMH:

“To people unschooled in legal and canonical niceties, mounting evidence about the Catholic’s Church’s approach to child abuse surely beggars belief.”

In life you have to be a realist and I would say that all the abused can expect from the Church are serpents and scorpions. See: Luke 11:1-13

Oh, I forgot to mention a few indulgences too!

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Where are the seven gifts and the Holy Ghost in Australia?

July 7, 2013 at 5:02 am (Australian Politics, Catholic Church, Commentary)

Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I rather like the old term Holy Ghost, but the above gifts are what they are and who would you say in our society has received them?

Let’s first look at  at same of our present-day politicians.

BILLIONAIRE James Packer has been given the green light to move ahead and build Sydney’s second casino at Barangaroo.

The decision by the NSW government means Crown moves to the final stage of the approval process.

Premier O’Farrell announced Mr Packer’s Crown would pay an upfront licence fee of $100 million; that non-rebate gaming would be taxed at 29 per cent – not the 27.5 per cent proposed by Crown and “the total of licence fee and gaming tax payments to NSW over the first 15 years of full operation must exceed $1 billion, a guarantee Crown proposed for its alternate option.

“Growing tourism[is] an important part of our strategy to achieve economic growth,” the Premier told the press conference.

The O’Farrell government made its decision after considering a detailed report by a government appointed panel led by former banking chief David Murray.

The report weighed up the Crown proposal and Echo Entertainment’s $1.1 billion plan to transform The Star at Pyrmont into a massive integrated resort, featuring two new luxury hotels.

The Premier said the Crown proposal had been more lucrative for government than the proposal from the Star Casino for an upgrade.

From the Telegraph

In granting this provisional approval, to what extent did O’Farrell bring to beat the seven gifts, if indeed he has them?

Are the elements of: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord, to be found in Barry’s approach?

I’ll leave this to my readers to decide.

Let’s go back in history and see how our past leaders in Australia have handled the seven gifts.

Take the lifting of tariffs under successive governments:

“The election in December 1972 of the first Labor government for 23 years, with a strong mandate for social and economic reforms, gave a boost to the advocates of trade liberalisation. Prime Minister Whitlam moved quickly”

Source: Privatization  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Was this responsible for the deskilling of the Australian workers, and unemployment in the country?

What about the way successive governments have been so anxious to flog off government owned corporations?

Former Commonwealth government-owned corporations include Telstra, established in the 1970s as Telecom Australia. Telstra, now Australia’s leading telecommunications company, was privatized in 1997 by the government of John Howard. As of June 2010 Telstra owned a majority of the copper wire infrastructure in Australia (the rest is owned by Optus) and is pending sale to its former parent, the Australian government, for a non-binding amount of 11 billion Australian dollars, as ducts in the copper wire tunnels are needed to install the fiber optic cable.

In Victoria many GBEs were sold in the 1990s to reduce the state’s level of debt. The State Electricity Commission of Victoria and the Gas and Fuel Corporation were the best-known government enterprises to be disaggregated and sold.

The commitment of the leading figures in the government to privatisation was evident by the late 1980s, but it took some years before the opposition of the Labor party membership could be overcome, and large scale privatisation could be implemented. Over this period, the Labor leadership displayed almost unparalleled hypocrisy; attacking the coalition’s proposals to privatise the Commonwealth Bank in the election campaign of early 1990, but making a decision in favour of partial privatisation later in the same year. At each stage in the privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank, solemn assurances were given that this sale would be the last.

From 1991 onwards, the policy of privatisation was essentially unchallenged within the Hawke-Keating government. The Commonwealth Bank was privatised in three stages, the last stage being implemented after Labor lost office in 1996. At each of the first two stages, apparently binding commitments to continued majority public ownership were made by the government, and subsequently broken.

A striking feature of the this process was the way in which the failures of deregulation and privatisation simply the paved the way for more deregulation and privatisation. The most notable examples were the collapses of the Victorian and South Australian State Banks.

These disasters were not the result of old-fashioned socialists interfering in the private sector, but followed the adoption of market-oriented policies advocated by Keating. The Cain and Bannon governments came to grief by dutifully adhering to the Keating gospel of financial deregulation. During the financial bubble of the late 1980s, they allowed a free rein to State Banks and to private, but state-regulated, financial institutions. Both governments came to grief when Keating gave us ‘the recession we had to have’.

Amazingly, Keating not only escaped any blame for these disasters but used them to push his agenda further. The need to rescue the State Bank of Victoria was used to force through the full privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank, while the example of the State Bank of South Australia has been used repeatedly to press the case against all forms of public ownership.

The privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank was a financial disaster for the Australian public, although investors in the float did very well indeed. The capital structure established prior to the sale of the first tranche of shares in 1991 involved the issue of 835 million shares. Although the par value for the shares was set at $2, the relevant consideration for valuation is the issue price which was set at $5.40. This implies a valuation of $4.5 billion for the Bank as a whole, (or about $5 billion valued in 1995-96 dollars0. The procedure for the sale of the second tranche of shares in 1993 ensured that the government received an amount close to the market price of the shares at the date of sale, which turned out to be around $9.50, implying a valuation for the Bank as a whole of $7.9 billion, or about $8.5 billion in 1995-96 dollars. The final share offer for the Bank was announced in June 1996. The sale price was around $10 per share, also implying a valuation of $8.5 billion in 1995-96 dollars. The total proceeds from the three stages of the sale amounted to about $7.8 billion in 1995-96 dollars.

Average real annual profits over the period 1988-93 (which covers a complete business cycle) were around $560 million. Computing the present value of this stream of profits at a discount rate of 5 per cent yields a value of $11.2 billion for the Bank as a whole. Therefore, even if profits had not increased after 1993, the public would have incurred a loss of around $3.5 billion from the privatisation. In fact, primarily because of the removal of restrictions on the monopoly power of the banks, profits have soared. Profits for the three years from 1998 to 2000 totalled $5.4 billion, or more than half the total sale proceeds received by the Australian public.

Financial deregulation has been similarly disastrous. Since the advent of financial deregulation, banks have raised fees and charges, cut services and exploited their collective monopoly power whenever possible.

Prudential regulation is in a similar mess. As a result of recent reforms, no one knows whether or not bank deposits are guaranteed by the Australian government. However, because the major banks are considered ‘too big to fail’, they are generally considered to be effectively guaranteed. Of course, except when faced with irresistible political pressure, they reject any notion of a corresponding social obligation.


Quiggin, J. (2001), ‘The ‘People’s Bank’: the privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank and the case for a new publicly-owned bank’, Australian Options

When you look back on privatisation in Australia, what a sorry lot our politicians are! Not a sign of the Holy Ghost in most of them!

As for our Churchmen the less said the better. Where was the Holy Ghost in the Catholic Church in Australia when the sex abuse scandals came to light?

Just have a look at: Broken Rites Australia – fighting church sexual abuse since 1993

Where have the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost gone to in Australia? Probably to a lot of little and ordinary people who have little influence in the country.

Maybe the Holy Ghost should get his/her act together and descend with gifts on those in power.

As readers, what do you think?

I must apologise for the rather hurried compilation of this piece, but I hope you get my general drift.

Australia does need more leaders like my great friend the Silver Fox, running things here. So Fox, came out from your legal practice, and stir the country up, for if anyone has the seven gifts, you do!


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Celibacy in the Catholic Church: A meditation on failure!

May 30, 2013 at 5:09 am (Catholic Church)

The Church has traditionally always been fair and square right in the bedroom, and what a mess they have made of it!

For years Catholics have been indoctrinated with the idea that sex is evil except in a limited way in the marriage bed. The path to hell is paved with sex, and all sexual activity outside marriage was clear and simple grievous, or a mortal sin. Impure thoughts would land you in hell as much as visiting a brothel.

Life was full of the occasions of sin; states that one was obliged to avoid under pain of mortal sin. Even in marriage anything that was deemed ‘unnatural’ was sinful!

Good God, no wonder there are so many crazy Catholics in the world with a clergy dedicated to celibacy. With the operate word being celibacy.

It has to be recognised that many clerics have never in their priestly lives had an affair with a woman, but others, we learn, have practised lives of secret debauchery, preying on young boys and girls. These ‘charmers’ usually kept clear of grown women, and would have had no idea of how to approach a woman and express their desire and love.

These ‘priestly charmers’ have in the past, when known of, recieved special treatment by a church hierarchy, and been posted here and there to save the reputation of the institution – a plan that never really worked as they usually went on offending.

So much for these gentlemen of the cloth, but what about the poor Catholic laity who had been educated with Jansenistic ideas about the evils of sex.

They went out into the world with twisted ideas which were largely responsible for ruining the sex lives of countless men and women.

The worst thing in life is not getting the love of a woman, but missing out. In old age one realizes this!

Officially, the Church still retains mad and unreasonable ideas about artifical birth control.

A friend of mine once said to me that if the allies during the War had dropped planeloads of condoms on Japanese cities, the Church would have shown more concern over this than the dropping of atom bombs!

In present-day Australia, the clerical abuse problems are highlighted in the following links:

As a Catholic, I can only say to the Pope and hierarchy, do something, and bring the Church into the 21st Century!

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“Official Blessing & Opening of the Redfern Jarjum College (13 April 2013)”

April 14, 2013 at 5:58 am (Aborigines, Catholic Church, Commentary, Education, Jarjum College, Jesuits in Australia)

On 14/04/2013 8:43 AM, Deborah Wall wrote:

David, Judith Clarke and I were looking for you and Bill yesterday.

Judith did get to meet your daughter, I gather.  But we couldn’t find you. Pity.

Mum Shirl’s figure has found its rightful place.



Deborah, my wife, Judith, my friend, and I were very disappointed to miss seeing Bill Clements and his wife, Barbara.

Overall the  opening was very successful, and I’ll leave others to describe it, but for me, there were  three highlights:

1. Seeing Bill Clements’ bronze statue of Mum Shirl. This is truly a remarkable work, and in the category of a great work of art – Bill, my sincere congratulations!

2. Speaking briefly to Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales and Administrator of the Commonwealth: ” Your Excellency, my family knew your family in Narrandera, my father was Dr Jim Wall of East Street, Narrandera, and I’ve written a book about him, which I’ll send you.” Her Excellency was obviously pleased, and she thanked me.

3. I spoke to Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney: ” Your Eminence, you were the cause of me losing $20. I bet $20 on you being the next Pope.” The Cardinal, with an amused look on his face, told me that it was unwise of me to do so, and he concluded by thanking me nevertheless. In this brief encounter the good Cardinal impressed me!

Everyone at the gathering seemed most impressed with Jarjum College, and there was a large measure of public approval. A little element of concern and disapproval was heard from what I would call the sidelines!

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Some SVD members I knew in PNG

March 12, 2013 at 9:50 am (Catholic Church, Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Fr Fons Ruijter, Fr Mike Clerkin, Karkar Island, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River, Society of the Divine Word, theology, Wewak)

Dave Wall & Fr Mike Clerkin, Dagua, 1965

Dave Wall & Fr Mike Clerkin, Dagua, 1965

What an extraordinary body of men were the Divine Wird Missionaries (SVD) in Papua New Guinea – Americans, Germans, Dutch and others.

Fr Mike Clerkin was one of them. He came to Wewak before the War and was interned by the Japanese during the war years – staying on after the war. Whereever he was posted  he was liked and respected.

He told me that when he arrived in Wewak around about 1938 he gained a reputation as being a great drinker who was exceptional in his ability to hold his liquor – quite unjustified according to him. This came about, he said, because early in his time in Wewak he was asked to a party, and he was sitting on the verandah of the house where the party was, and drinks were freely flowing, in fact the host would not allow anyone’s glass to be any way empty, filling each up with neat Scotch. Well, the only way Mike could cope with this was to keep emptying his glass over the side of the verandah. The next day the news went around Wewak that this young American priest sat drinking Scotch all night, and left the party as sober as he arrived.

When in Maprik Mike had quite an extensive library on mainly intellectual subjects. A field officer with the Malaria Control Unit visited the presbytery, and on seeing Mike’s books remarked: ” Father, I love books, at home I’ve got  the complete works of Zane Grey!”

Fr Much, a German SVD, was stationed on Karkar Island in the early 1960s, and the stories about him there abound. His great saying was: “SVD – smoke ve don’t, so ve drink” In  fact many of them did both, as Fr Much did himself! The story behind this little tale is that strictly speaking they were not supposed to smoke according to the rules of their order. This prohibition was not repealed until the middle sixties – which on looking back seemed rather strange for at this time the general community started to become increasingly anti-smoking. From memory Fr Much’s favourate smoke was giant cigars that he rolled himself from native tobacco leaves – brus.

On leave in Germany a medical opinion said he needed an operation. Fr Much wrote to John Middleton along these lines: I’m being attended to by two surgeons – one a woman and the other a man – the man thinks I should not be operated on – the woman tends to differ.  I know the woman will get her way and I will die. Unfortunately die he did after the operation.

I first met Fr John O’Toole in Dreikikir in 1962 where he was the parish priest, missionary- in- residence, I’m trying to think of the right title or designation, both would be appropriate! John was a Bostonian of Irish descent who took his religious calling seriously, and he loved a drink, and the convivial company of the station expats. If one happened to be Catholic he insisted you attended Mass every Sunday – you either came every Sunday or stayed away altogether.

At this time there was a well-known medical assistant stationed at Dreikikir. Frank Gilbert.  Frank & I both shared the distininction of going off the side of the airstrip on Karkar Island while on a motor bike.  Frank did it in a much more dramatic way and literally flew off the side of the strip and into the ocean, while I just tumbled over the side onto the rocks. Anyhow that’s another story.

Fr John got Frank to go to Mass while he was in Dreikikir, this was after a long absence away, but while in Dreikikir he didn’t get around to going to the sacraments. In early 1963 Frank went finish – returned to Australia for good to get married to a Catholic woman. While there prior to his marriage he decided to go to Confession. After he confessed and indicated how long he’d been away from the practice of his faith, the priest in confession asked what brought him back. He said: “While I was in New Guinea I met a priest who was a man.” This was John O’Toole! Frank wrote to John and told him this – O’Toole was so pleased!

On celibacy John once said to me, with a hint of regret in his voice, that this was something that he signed up to years ago!

The last time I saw Fr John was in Sydney on his way to the States – going finish, after nearly forty years in PNG! Not too long after he arrived in the States he died.

I first met Fr Karl Junemann at his Kombi Mission Station in the Dreikikir area – a very spiritual and humble man from Hanover, as such, he spoke high German unlike many of his colleagues who mainly hailed from Southern Germany. During the War he was conscripted into the German Medical Corps, and sent initally to the Eastern Front. In the Ukraine when the inhabitants found out that he was a Catholic priest he was so well treated by them. After the East he was sent to the West, and was part of the triumphant German entry into Paris – not that he ever approved of the Nazi War, but he couldn’t help keeping a little pride out of the way he expressed the success of German arms in the West, when he was telling me about the victory march in Paris. Karl stayed in the Sepik until he died, and he was buried in Wewak in the Mission Cemetery after almost fifty years of dedicated service in PNG. A gentle and hospitable man. I remember the Patrol Officer, Jock McIntyre, at Dreikikir, a man of Presbyterian background, who set out on patrol with a certain amount of relish to read the riot act to Fr Junemann – who was to him initially, a Kraut Roman priest, and coming back after visiting him, completely charmed, and full of praise for Fr Junemann.

Fr Fons Ruijter came to PNG in the early 1960s, and to Angoram in 1964. His theological and ecclesiastical stance was in many ways more proggressive than the Second Vatican Council – he was in favour of wearing secular clothing  while celbrating the Mass, and he tended to downplay the importance of Confession. The practical application of the Gospels to everyday life was his rule- of- thumb in judging how we lived the Christian life.

In 1972 I went to Manila to marry my future wife, Deborah. When making the arrangements with the church authorities there I was required to get a clearance from my parish priest  that was was eligible to be married in the Catholic Church.  In other words there was no known impediment to me getting married. To facilitate this I sent a radiogram to Fons; well, I got a telegram/radiogram back written in Latin. To my unscholarly eyes everything appeared to be in order, however I do remember seeing something like impotentia coeundi in the text which aroused the suspicion of my friend, Peter Johnson, but we really thought nothing of it.

At school I did have three years of Latin, but it was always in the same grade – I didn’t get beyond the first declension – I clearly remember, mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa, but this is about all!

Fons’ radiogram was duly presented to the Filipino priest who was going to marry us, and I thought nothing more of it for the next few days, until Deborah and I called in to see the priest. He indicated that he wanted to talk to me privately. He asked me if I was a good friend of Fr Ruijter’s and I said, yes. He then explained to me briefly what was in the radiogram, and he said that Fr Ruijter was probably having a little joke with me.

The missive from Fons said in so many Latin words that there was a diriment canonical impediment to my marriage due to  impotence.

To say the least I wasn’t too happy, and I didn’t have the grace to see the joke, but really I was upset for appearing to be such a rough untutored lad! Fortunately it was not taken seriously by the priest in Manila, and the marriage went ahead without a hitch.

When I returned to Angoram I was a bit off hand with Fons for a while, but he was upset that I had not seen through the whole thing, because he genuinely believed that my original request was a bit of a joke, on my part, just to create amusement among the expats in Angoram, who all would have been aware of the contents on the radiogram, and so in a way he was only playing along with the joke, thinking I would have enough Latin to understand his reply to me.

Fons stayed in PNG until the late 1980s or early 1990s. For his last years there, he ran a community farming project in Gavien just outside Angoram.

The last I heard of him, he was working with the unemployed in Holland.

The above mentioned people are just a few Divine Word Missionaries, there are many others such as: Fr Robert Jilek, the captain of the Marova, Bishop Leo Arkfeld, the flying bishop, Fr Shadeg, a gifted school teacher, Fr Mike Hughes, Fr Ivo Ruiter, Fr Mitterbauer, Br Gonzaga, Br Patroclus Appeldorn, and last but certainly not least, Ralf Stüttgen, who arrived in the late 1960s as an SVD. He later left the order and to this day, he’s a resident of Wewak. Ralf is a highly intelligent man.

Blessed Arnold Janssen, founder of the Society of the Divine Word, has cause to be proud of the members of his Society.



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Considered thoughts!

September 21, 2012 at 7:07 am (Adolf Hitler, Australian Politics, Catholic Church, Commentary, Human Rights, Middle East, Refugees, The Prophet, Third Reich)

A few European friends of mine were looking at the world and they deemed it was in a mess. One said it’s time we bring the Fuehrer (Fuhrer) back! By using an ouija board they contacted Adolf — “Der Fuehrer, we need you back!” There was a pause, and then he came on- line again. “OK, but next time around no more Mr Nice Guy.”

Pope John Paul II walking in the Vatican Gardens for quiet meditation suddenly encounted the Almighty, and they got into conversation. “Dear Lord, while I’m pope do you think there will be women priests?” God Almighty answered, “not in your time”. The next question the Pope put to God was dealing with the marriage laws of the Church. “Do you think the Church will ever relax its attitude to artificial birth control.” Again God told him not in his time. John Paul’s final question was: “Lord, do you think there’ll be another Polish Pope?” The Almighty answered in no uncertain terms: “Not in my time.”

I wonder if the Prophet would be proud of his followers in Sydney. It was said to me today that Australia should take the refugee policy that we follow about arrivals into our own hands — forget the international conventions and set a fixed figure on the number we would take each year They would be selected from the refugee camps around the world — don’t bother about off-shore processing — boats that turn up out of the blue would be sent back to their first point of departure — the pocessing would all be done in the refugee camps, and some sort of common sense should be exercised in the parts of the world we draw from — perhaps for a while we should give the Middle East a rest.

I recognise that there are humanitarian problems with the policy outlined above but there are many problems with our present policy — I suppose it’s hard to know what to do.

John Blaxell

These views are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor of this blog. 

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