“Faith and the Political”

The theme is to be interpreted broadly and from the disciplines of philosophy, theology, history, social science, literature and the arts. Topics that might be investigated include: scandal in/of Christianity; structures of belief and opinion; secularisation, fundamentalism and inculturation; politics in the Bible and the Bible in politics; religion in the public forum; Christian ethics in a liberal democracy; liberation and equality.

The conference specifically aims to foster interaction between scholars in the universities and scholars in theological colleges. It also encourages young scholars.


Keynote Speaker: Peter Forrest: The Epistemology of Scandal

'How can you continue to believe in the face of scandals?’ This question is widely asked, but I shall concentrate on the case of Roman Catholicism, leaving to others the application to their faith, religious or secular. The sexual abuse of children by clergy is shocking in the extreme, but as an intellectual challenge it may be rebutted by noting that the reality of sin is a central Christian doctrine: the Church never claimed that its clergy were holy. The scandal that defeats faith in the Church is not this initial abuse, horrific though that is, but its cover-up and the resulting further wrong to victims. Although the way scandal defeats faith seems obvious to some, to others it looks like the ad hominem fallacy of criticizing the advocate rather than what is advocated – 'playing the man not the ball'. I shall argue that scandal undermines faith in the Catholic Church, by rebutting the Church's claim to holiness. That is no fallacy. We should all distinguish, however, between faith in the Catholic Church and a Catholic faith. The latter, informed by centuries of tradition, may reasonably be maintained or converted to in spite of a heart felt recognition of the gravity of the scandals, which, to the Church's shame, are also centuries old.

Friday 3rd till Sunday 5th October 2014

Catholic Institute of Sydney, 99 Albert Rd, Strathfield NSW 2135


Convenors: Stephen Buckle (ACU), William Emilsen (UTC/CSU), Peter Forrest (UNE),
John McDowell (Newcastle), Shane Mackinlay (CTC/UDiv), Andrew Murray (CIS/SCD)

The proceedings of the 2008 Biennial Conference are available in PDF format.
Right click here to download:
God, Freedom and Nature

For further details, contact Andrew Murray at Catholic Institute of Sydney, 99 Albert Road, Strathfield, NSW 2135,
Australia. Ph: +612 9752 9514;
Click Here