Treasurer no longer aspires to top job

Brad Norington  - The Australian
Wayne Swan once dreamed of becoming Australia's prime minister. But he has given up on the idea and believes Julia Gillard's eventual Labor successor will come from the party's younger generation.  The candid remarks from the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer leave open a likely Labor leadership contest in the years ahead involving federal ministers such as Bill Shorten, 43, and Greg Combet, 52. Another ambitious federal Labor figure in the current government ministerial line-up is Tony Burke, 40.   It has been speculated that Kevin Rudd, 53, now Foreign Minister, has some hope of eventually returning to the prime ministership.

Abortion law flaw denied

AAP - Daily Telegraph
The Queensland government has denied any flaw in Queensland's criminal code which only offers legal protection for surgical abortions. Women rallied across Australia yesterday in support of a young Queensland couple facing trial over a home abortion.  Tegan Simone Leach, 20, and her partner, Sergie Brennan, 22, were in 2009 committed to stand trial for allegedly importing abortion drugs from the Ukraine to terminate a pregnancy.   Ms Leach is charged with procuring an abortion and could face seven years in jail if convicted.

Same-sex marriage off Labor agenda

Niki Savva  -   The Australian
Julia Gillard moved into the Lodge with her partner Tim Mathieson a couple of weekends ago. And there were lovely pictures of them walking hand in hand around the magnificent grounds.   They were on the television news and in the papers the next day, although a bit of the romance was swept away by photos of Kevin Rudd's new digs, worth a piffling $2.2 million, just down the road in the lakeside suburb of Yarralumla.   As Gillard said the other day, she and Mathieson haven't really had time to settle in, given they both headed off overseas soon after moving in, but they looked very comfortable with each other.

O'Farrell gambles on winning support of clubs

Sean Nicholls - SMH
Special powers designed to investigate corruption in registered clubs would be repealed by a Coalition government as part of a package of concessions to the industry announced by the NSW opposition leader, Barry O'Farrell.   As well, some of the state's richest clubs will receive a tax break on their poker machine profits worth about $2 million for four years if the Coalition wins government in March.

Attitudes harden towards the lot of a working mother

Adele Horin - SMH
Australians have become more conservative in their views on key gender issues since the 1990s, particularly on the role of working mothers, a study shows.   People are much less inclined to believe a working mother can be as good a mother as one who stays at home full-time, for example. And they are more likely to think it better for the family if the husband is the main breadwinner and the wife has chief responsibility for home and children.   The study, by Janeen Baxter, professor of sociology at the University of Queensland, and colleagues, shows the trend towards more liberal views on work and family has stalled and in some cases reversed. ''These developments may not be sufficient to warrant the term 'backlash' but they indicate some rethinking of the goals of the feminist movement for equal opportunity,'' Professor Baxter said.

Sydney Synod meets
Sydney Synod meets today, tomorrow and Wednesday and next week.  Doubtless all involved would value your prayers. Pray that discussions, debate and decisions would all bring honour to Christ.

Archbishop Freier to Melbourne Synod
Archbishop Philip Freier’s charge to the Melbourne Synod, which has just concluded, is now available on the (newly redesigned) Diocese of Melbourne website.

Indigenous pilgrims honour salt-of-earth Mary MacKillop

Drew Warne-Smith  - The Australian
When Vicki Clark reflects on Mary MacKillop, she does so without the reverential tone expected in Rome next Sunday. The Mary she knows is found in her letters and diary notes from over a century ago -- a "salt-of-the-earth" person, neither saint nor miracle worker, who washed the hair of Aboriginal children and treated their sores.   She is the self-effacing Catholic emissary whose torchbearers at the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart -- the Josephites -- saw fit to apologise to indigenous Australians back in 1999, long before Kevin Rudd and the federal government uttered the word "sorry".

The halo effect: the appeal of saints in a secular world

John Elder - The Age
Ahead of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop next Sunday, John Elder explores the enduring relevance of saints.  Harry Potter's close friend, Hermione Granger, may have been throttled by a plant, hassled by a werewolf and left dateless at a Hogwarts house party, but that's small beans compared to the many horrors endured by Saint Hermione of Ephesus.   Persecuted as a sorceress for her healing powers during the first century AD, St Hermione was beaten across the face for hours at a time, imprisoned for years, had nails driven into her feet and was later cooked in a pot, all the while joyfully singing praise to Jesus. Two Roman Emperors in succession tried to break her and failed; she was eventually beheaded.

The making of a saint

Mark Metherell and Kate Benson - SMH
Mary MacKillop's name will be sanctified not only when she is elevated to the sainthood next Sunday.   Her name will also be blessed with special protection from the Australian government.   In a move which raises her to the same exclusive status as Sir Donald Bradman, Mary MacKillop's name will be protected by legislative measures to outlaw commercial or other exploitation.

Inspiration for every Australian Bishop Anthony Fisher writes about Mary MacKillop

Reverend Anthony Fisher  - The Daily Telegraph
Next Sunday the Pope will declare an Aussie girl a saint - our first.  Mary Helen MacKillop means a lot to me. My first teacher, Sister Paul Michael, was a Josephite sister at St Therese Lakemba.   I have long loved MacKillop's story and often pray at her shrine in North Sydney. I was privileged to accompany Pope Benedict to her tomb during World Youth Day, where he said he was "deeply moved".

State lets pensioners keep their $30 rise

Drew Warne-Smith and Patricia Karvelas - The Australian
Pensioners in public housing in NSW will not lose any of their pension rise to rent after Kristina Keneally agreed to a federal request. But in announcing that payments would be q1uarantined, the Premier warned that the NSW government would be unable to fund future public housing construction should the pension rise be permanently excluded from the calculation of rent rates.   In a letter obtained by The Australian yesterday, Ms Keneally has also demanded the commonwealth move to protect about 190,000 pensioners who are living in private rental properties.

Intervention Inc exposed in wastage

Natasha Robinson - The Australian
The delivery of indigenous services in the Northern Territory has developed into a huge bureaucratic machine.  The number of new public servants since the launch of the federal intervention almost matches the number of extra frontline troops of doctors, nurses, teachers and police.   An investigation by The Australian reveals that, since mid-2007, the number of federal public servants based in the NT - within the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs alone - has more than doubled.

Inquiry into stillborn baby investigations

Daniel Wills  - The Advertiser
Attorney-General John Rau will consider an inquiry into whether the state coroner should be able to investigate the births of stillborn babies.  Opposition frontbencher Iain Evans has called for a wide-ranging review of current regulations to determine whether the deaths of babies who survive at least 28 weeks in the womb should be subject to coronial inquiry.   The coroner is only permitted to investigate deaths of children who exhibit a "sign of life" after delivery.

Baby born from embryo frozen for 20 years

The Sunday Times
A healthy baby has been born from an embryo frozen for almost 20 years. The infant's mother, who is 42, had undergone 10 years of unsuccessful infertility treatment when she was given the embryo last year. She gave birth in May to a boy weighing 3.14kg.   News of the birth, published in the US medical journal Fertility and Sterility, raises ethical questions. A woman could give birth to a baby conceived a generation before she was born or to the biological offspring of her mother or her grandmother.

Fetus captured on film smiling at just 17 weeks

The Sunday Times
Pictures of a fetus appearing to give a "sunny" smile at just 17 weeks have been captured by a doctor.   The images, taken using revolutionary 3D and 4D scanning equipment, reveal the fetus smiling at least five weeks earlier than previously observed.  Stuart Campbell, who took the pictures, said: "This is a joyful expression of the humanity of the fetus.

Behind the media scandal of clerical sexual abuse

Noel Debien - ABC
Tonight, in our first hour is a program from our Sunday nights treasury. We take a close look at what's behind the slow train wreck of sexual abuse in the Christian church- and how it is that a worldwide institution is presently battered by media accusations of cover-up.  These major stories go in waves. The first wave was admitting the shocking the fact that it happened- that priests, ministers and religious committed these crimes. The second wave seemed to be clinical work and new insights into victims and of the long terms effects. The third wave is now accountability. How will the church honestly admit and deal responsibly with the sad fact that it has some serious policy problems actually worsening the plight of victims?

David Tchappat - an ex-member of the Exclusive Brethren

David Tchappat with Noel Debien - ABC
David Chappat escaped from the Exclusive Brethren. He's a man in his 30's who has already written his life story so far- and it is interesting. His book is called Breakout - and among many things it tells the story of how he left the closed religious movement called the Exclusive brethren. The exclusive brethren are the secretive Protestant group who became more well know at the 2007 Federal election when they backed the re-election of the Howard government. They had also gotten involved in the election in New Zealand - despite banning their members from voting in elections.

Talking about rape
There are many reasons women don't report rape. I know, because it happened to me - twice.  It's the end of the footy season, so everyone's talking about rape. Or, more specifically, about the young women who were so stupid as to put themselves in a position where they'd be raped, or be able to claim later that they were.   TV presenter Kerri-Anne Kennerley laid the blame on the ''strays'' who ''throw . . . themselves at sportspeople''. ''What do [women] expect,'' she asked, ''when they are out at night?''

MLCs debate sex worker law reform

Zoe Edwards - The Examiner
Prostitution laws should be handled at a national level, Windermere MLC Ivan Dean said yesterday.   The suggestion came as Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall said it might have made more sense to stick with the government's 2004 bid to legalise brothels.   Retiring Launceston MLC Don Wing was president at the time and could not vote, but yesterday he called for regulation of Tasmania's sex industry.