The Mix of Law and Religion debated

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 16-8-2007

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle

Publication Place



Prominent Australian Jesuit and Notre Dame Professor of Social Justice and Human Rights, Father Frank Brennan, gave a public lecture this week on the Fremantle Campus.

The lecture entitled: The Mix of Law and Religion – Lessons from the Stem Cell Debate was presented by the School of Law and chaired by Senior Law lecturer, Ben Clarke.

Following on from his latest book, Acting on Conscience in which he discusses the place of ethics and religion in public life, Fr Brennan spoke about how politicians and also ordinary citizens and voters could arrive at an informed personal position in relation to the current stem cell debate.

“There must always be room for diverse viewpoints on pastoral solicitude and prudent political action, even when there is unanimity within a religious tradition on questions of moral principle. To adapt slightly the words of Cardinal Pell in his interview on national radio after the NSW debate: Our role as pastors and teachers in the public domain ‘is to state what is the Catholic position and to explain the rational basis for that position so that people of no religion, or a lot of religion, or a little religion can at least understand what (we are) saying and potentially agree with (us).’ Greater dialogue within the church could only enhance the prospects of our message being heard and taken up beyond the confines of our own pews.”

An audience of around 80 people engaged in a lively question and answer session at the end of his lecture.

Fr Brennan left the Fremantle Campus to spend 3 weeks on the Broome Campus where he will be lecturing on legal issues which can affect Aboriginal people.