Catholic students conference

Catholic students conference

The national conference of the Australian Catholic Students Association starts this Friday, and it’s not too late to register.

The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is Fr Aidan Nichols OP, a world-class theologian and author whose Shape of Catholic Theology I recommend as the introduction to theology for beginners.

Other speakers include Kevin Andrews, a Catholic MP who introduced the private members’ bill which rescinded the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation. He will speak on the defence of human dignity in the political and cultural realms.

Also not to be missed is Prof Tracey Rowland, who has earned herself new notoriety in the current edition of The Tablet. She will speak on the theology of culture, which is at the heart of her critique of post-conciliar reforms.

I was heavily involved with ACSA in my university days, though back then it was called the International Movement of Catholics Students Australia (IMCSA). I got involved at a low ebb in the organisation’s history, and the IMCSA was in very real danger of shutting down. We built it up again by focusing on the spiritual formation of members and organising conferences intended to revive Catholic intellectual life in Australian universities.

Ten years later, those early successes have been consolidated, allowing ACSA to broaden its appeal. A gala ball and a State of Origin footy rugby match (wouldn’t have happened in my day!!) are now permanent fixtures in the conference agenda.

I would highly recommend the conference to anyone at university, whether they’re Catholic or not. ACSA Conferences aren’t tent revival meetings — they’re a place to challenge ideas and be challenged by ideas; a place to meet other students who are serious about changing the world; and a place to have fun. (Foreign football codes notwithstanding.)

If you know anyone who is at university, send them this link. If they end up going, they’ll probably thank you for it!

6 Comments

  1. Bruce Clayton
    Jul 2, 2012

    What a shame that Mr Andrews introduced the bill rescinding the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation. No one has the right to impose their “morality” on others. Why should a person not be allowed to die in peace and dignity? For him to be speaking on the defence of human dignity is a joke!

    • Fr John
      Jul 3, 2012

      It’s not a matter of imposing personal morality Bruce. It’s a matter of (a) protecting the most vulnerable, who would feel the pressure under “humane and enlightened” legislation to die prematurely, and (b) protecting doctors and nurses from the onerous obligation of killing a patient. Legal euthanasia is many things, but an exclusively personal decision it ain’t.

      • Bruce Clayton
        Jul 10, 2012

        Euthanasia works well in Switzerland – It is not imposed on either the patient or the doctors – It is indeed a personal decision, but those in society who want to occupy the moral high ground cannot stop themselves interfering in the lives of others. Unfortunately the approach of those who oppose euthanasia appears to be that they know best for everyone – Much like the treatment of gay couples by denying them the right to express their love openly and through marriage. Religion does not have the monopoly on morality – indeed, one could very easily argue the exact opposite, given the awful revelations of child rape and child abuse which has been covered up over many years.

      • Fr John
        Jul 10, 2012

        Bruce, I agree with you wholeheartedly that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on morality. I hope you can at least credit me for not arguing from a religious perspective.

        Quite frankly, I think liberalism is more than adequate in the case against the state-sanctioned homicide of the terminally ill. Does euthanasia work well in Switzerland? Perhaps you could send me links to studies on the cultural impact?

  2. Samuel
    Jul 3, 2012

    “I was heavily involved with ACSA in my university days”

    In what ways were you involved, if you don’t mind me asking?

    I’ve been at uni for a couple of years and never heard of them! lol

    • Fr John
      Jul 3, 2012

      Over the years I served on the Executive as Publications Officer, Secretary, and President. That largely involved working on the national conferences and establishing a national journal. I also assisted in the foundation of a Victorian sub-branch, which flew in international speakers and held academic seminars.

      I’m sorry you’ve never heard of it! The organisation’s on-campus exposure has always been determined by the presence of a Catholic students society and/or a co-operative Catholic chaplain. But now you’ve got no excuse. If you can, I strongly recommend you attend this year’s conference!!