I was born in Melbourne in 1940. As a child I really wanted to be an actor or an orchestral conductor, but chose the Catholic priesthood instead. Some have argued that in my case there is not much difference!
I was ordained in 1967 and then worked as a priest and secondary school teacher in Toowoomba. From there I went to Hobart, where I worked in a parish; Sydney, where I taught students for the priesthood; Papua New Guinea where I taught in a university teaching; and Michigan, USA where I taught theology.
My first book, Mixed Blessings - which looks at what had happened in the Catholic church since the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 - was published in 1986. I then went on to join the ABC as a broadcaster and commentator on religious affairs. I worked in radio and TV, eventually ending up as Specialist Editor Religion. I left the ABC in 1996, but still appear on the national broadcast as a commentator on religious affairs and a sometime protagonist on Catholic affairs!
As well as Mixed Blessings, I have written No Set Agenda (1992), a book about Australian Catholicism; God's Earth: Religion as if Matter Really Mattered (1995), which is a radical book about religion and ecology (and my personal favourite!); and Papal Power (1997), a study of the papal office and ideas about how it might develop in the future. Papal Power touched a raw nerve in Rome and is being 'examined' by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith aka the Roman Inquisition. Vatican interest has helped sales of the book enormously!
I live in Canberra (well, Queanbeyan to be specific) and work as a kind of free-lance priest-writer-broadcaster, with regular contributions in many newpapers, including The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. I also do regular spots on ABC metro stations across Australia and often appear on ABC TV I even make it onto the commercial stations occasionally!
I have a Masters degree in theology from Harvard University and a Doctorate in history from the Australian National University. I am still working on papal history, I'm thinking about a new book on God and ecology and have half-written a novel. However, it is helping in out in parishes on weekends that keeps me in touch with everyday reality.