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Don’t vote Green, say bishops: they’re in favour of drugs, abortion and gay marriage and against religious freedom

But that’s Australia: surely our own dear Greens are more wholesome? Don’t you believe it

By on Thursday, 31 March 2011

Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales and the party's only MP (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales and the party's only MP (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Australian Greens seem to be a pretty hairy bunch. Cardinal George Pell has had a go at them before this, and now he is joined by nine other Australian bishops in the context of elections in New South Wales. Together, they have issued a document called The Green Agenda, the main purpose of which is to discourage Catholics from voting for the local Green party: two bishops have declined to sign the document, on the grounds that, in the words of one of them, “The bishops need to take great care regarding intervention in the political process”. It was OK to highlight “key issues of concern”, he thought; but said that he didn’t believe that “attacking a particular political party serves to highlight these issues in the most effective way”.

Well, I’m not so sure about that: if a party’s programme is so obviously anti-Catholic in its tendency (and one policy is to withdraw state funding from Catholic schools) why shouldn’t bishops say, or imply, that Catholics shouldn’t vote for them? Some Catholics, of course, think that Catholic schools, once they accept money from a government, are handing over some of their independence (I’m not entirely convinced they’re wrong): but Australian Greens also want to force religious schools, in the words of the bishops’ statement, “to employ teachers whose views, values and lifestyle are contrary to the religious traditions of these schools, and the hundreds of thousands of parents who send their children to them”. The real issue here, say the bishops, is religious freedom, “which in addition to private prayer and worship also means the right to live out our faith in the community”.

Australian Greens also want the decriminalisation of “personal drug use”; the bishops comment that “the use of non-therapeutic drugs damages health, life and communities and is an offence against human dignity”. The Australian Greens are also in favour of gay marriage; they want to deny medical practitioners the right of conscientious objection to participating in or being associated with the practice of abortion; and they want to introduce legislation to legalise euthanasia.

The bishops’ conclusion is that “The Greens’ position on a number of fundamental points of human and social policy areas conflicts directly with the beliefs and values of virtually all religious people, and the beliefs of many other people as well. The conflicts are not superficial or inconsequential. They go to fundamental issues such as respect for all human life from conception to natural death. They attack religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Greens who are elected will bring a whole set of policies. You cannot pick and choose. They are not only concerned for the environment.”

In other words, don’t vote Green.

Should bishops “interfere” in this way? Well, I don’t myself see why not, when a party’s policies are so openly antipathetic to Catholic beliefs. That raises a question: what about our own Greens? Are they quite so upfront on such issues? And if they are, what do they actually say about them? If you look at the outline of English Green Party policies on their website, there’s nothing at all about any of this stuff: they’re against “botched privatisation schemes” in the NHS and in favour of “implementing in England and Wales the scheme that provides free social care to the elderly in Scotland”. They want to abolish prescription charges, re-introduce free eye tests and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available (if they mean podiatry, actually it is); they’re in favour of higher pensions and a fair deal for older people. They want a fair housing deal for all, to make it easier for people to get on the property ladder, to protect home-owners and to eradicate homelessness for good.

All perfectly defensible stuff, though possibly some of it is a bit impractical in straitened times: but certainly, there’s nothing there a Catholic voter need be deterred by. Have a look at this, too; it gives their publicly declared policies in more detail.

But is that sort of thing really all there is? Well, actually, no. Have a look at this, which emerged after a bit more digging; this is not on their main website (why not?): :

The Green Party is backing calls for an end to the ban on same-sex marriage in the UK and in other EU member states.

Britain’s two current Green MEPs – Caroline Lucas (South-East England) and Jean Lambert (London) – have said there should be marriage equality across the European Union.

Lucas said: “The Green Party is the only British political party that opposes the ban on same-sex civil marriage. We want marriage equality for LGBT couples.”

She added: “It is time same-sex marriage was agreed and recognised by all EU member states. Lesbian and gay married couples should be able to move freely around Europe and have their marriages recognised on exactly the same basis as heterosexual married couples.”

Or how about this?

Greens are concerned that women seeking an abortion who can afford to “go private” can receive a swifter, and hence medically safer, procedure. The Greens want to abolish the current law that requires the consent of two doctors for an abortion. The Greens believe appropriately qualified midwives and nurses should be able to perform abortions, with the aim of improving access to NHS facilities. Currently women seeking an abortion face waits of up to seven weeks, and nearly 10% of abortions are carried out privately.

So, is it possible to be a Green and also against abortion and gay marriage? Is it possible to be a Green and also a Catholic? Not in our politics, maybe: but Catholics are hardly against a clean and non-toxic environment. So, why are political greens so extremely (as they would claim) “progressive” over policies which aren’t, really, anything to do with the environment at all? As the Australian bishops say, in giving their advice on whether to vote for these people, “Greens who are elected will bring a whole set of policies. You cannot pick and choose. They are not only concerned with the environment.”

So, why is that? Has anyone any ideas? I’m stumped. And now our own English bishops know (anyone reading this might tell them, just in case they don’t read this column) exactly what you get if you vote Green in this country, will they say anything about it, before the next elections (local or national)? I’m sure they will. Surely. What do you think?

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was bad enough that the RCC put the seriousness of paedophilia (or should that read “the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years”) on a level with the ordination of women, but you equate the facilitation of paedophilia with bad spelling! No prospect of a mature discussion there.

  • Ratbag

    Chill pill, I said!

  • Ratbag

    So, your life is worth more than the next person?

    Who the hell do you think you are?

  • Ratbag

    Religion making things worse? How? Oh, that old chestnut! Yaaaaawwwwwnnnn!!!!

    Like a bully, picking on an easy target, mate, and soooooooooo groundless!

    It makes me angry that despot governments that have mismanaged their respective countries,ripped off their people, leading them to poverty, disease,starvation and war. Religious organisations (not just Catholic) have helped to effectively clean up their mess. They school them, make communities self sufficient through Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and other charititable causes are doing the same and have been doing so for a long, long time.

    Martin Mellon’s Township Trust has built thousands of basic,good quality houses for township dwellers in South Africa – from cardboard and containers to bricks,plumbing and mortar. Proper homes. People from Ireland and the UK take their annual leave to spend time helping with this project, which is so successful that other African countries are looking at it for its ‘hand up’ approach rather than be given it as a ‘hand out’. Local people are learning skills and trades from volunteers so that they can carry on the good work and obtain decent employment. That’s what I call channeling ones ‘riteous’ anger into ‘doing something about it’.

    Christ said the poor will always be with us. We help them with whatever we can do or give. Thirty odd years ago Band Aid and Live Aid. Years before that Cambodia… and before that….

    People are not better off dead or non existant. That’s the impression I get from you and people who think like you. And it’s wrong.

    Don’t forget that there is poverty here in the so-called prosperous UK, which makes me indignant… and I do NOT blame religion or God … but man’s greed, selfishness and mismanagement.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry – I can’t see how your response relates to my post.

  • MXK

    TreenonPoet – if injustice makes you angry may I ask what exactly you are doing to help alleviate poverty? There is enough food and resources worldwide to feed the world but it is the UNEQUAL distribution of resources driven by the greed and selfishness of more economically developed countries that is the main problems. Where do you think most of our food comes from? I think you’ll find that a great majority are from these poverty stricken countries. I hope you lobby our government, mobilise others and involve yourself in charitable causes with the same zeal you are attacking the Church with. As well as countless lay Catholic led charities worldwide, the Church provides a significant amount of healthcare and other resources to poorer countries (a third of all HIV care in Africa is provided by the Catholic Church for example) and relatives in Africa have told me of the great help provided by the Church there for many many decades. I agree that we all need to be doing more but I fail to see how Catholics are making the situation worse.
    The Catholic Church has unaminously condemned the child sexual abuse that has occurred. The priests that were guilty of it were a tiny minority of the total number of priests (though the mass media has delighted in giving the impression that it was much more prevalent) but their sinful actions were terribly harmful and the Church has apologised many times over for it.

  • Anonymous

    A future world consisting only of Catholic and Islamist states sounds like the venue for one hell of a holy war. The only comfort is that such a world is extremely unlikely to materialize, given that Vatican City is the only Catholic non-secular state on Earth.

  • Anonymous

    There already is an unapologetic Christian party in Britain. It’s called The Christian Party, and very few people vote for it. A Catholic Party would get still fewer votes, so it might be some time before you get that longed-for Catholic state of yours. Have you thought of emigrating to Iran? I know it’s Muslim, but at least it’s pretty theocratic, with a little help from its security forces.

  • Anonymous

    The most sensible economic goal for nations and for the world is not to have an ever-growing economy but a healthy and stable economy which is proportianate to the population and meets the population’s needs. This is hard to achieve if the population is ever-expanding, since to meet its needs the economy must keep expanding with it, and at some point the needs of both population and economy will outstrip the available natural resources, including land and living-space. An ever-growing population with an ever-growing economy would be possible only on an ever-growing planet, and this we do not have. How challenging of the Catholic God to make Earth’s resources finite, sex highly pleasurable, and contraception forbidden!

  • Anonymous

    The Vatican’s main effort towards achieving carbon neutrality has been to accept the gift of an area of forest in Hungary. If only Hungary would offer Britain an area of forest sufficient to offest its emissions, we could be carbon-neutral too. The problem is that Britain is so much larger than Vatican City and Hungary probably can’t afford to give away the required forest area. The Vatican’s “solution” is not, in fact, a very realistic model for any state that is not the size of a city park.

  • Anonymous

    I have donated to charities concerned about population levels for decades, during which time the global population has DOUBLED. I guess that technology and abundance of resources helping to hide the seriousness of the problem, and the unpopularity of the measures that would be necessary to stabilise the population, have contributed to the ineffectiveness of these charities. Another factor is the complacency encouraged by world religions.

    In exasperation, I began to send emails to my (religious) parliamentary representative two or three years ago. Most of these have been ignored, and the replies that I have received have been religious in nature, politely rude, and not addressing my arguments. I get the impression he thinks I’m a nutter.

    Even in wet and prosperous Britain, my water company tells me that there is not enough water to allow historic consumption levels to be maintained and that this situation will get worse as the UK population increases. I don’t know how true that is, but I can understand the principle – same resources spread more thinly equals lower standard of living per person. There is no natural law that says technology will keep coming to the rescue.

    Given constant resources, I would rather people had a decent standard of living than multiply to misery (whereas it seems to me that Catholics would prefer the misery). But we are consuming resources faster than they can be replenished. This can only lead to famine, disease, and/or conflict unless populations are reduced to sustainable levels.

    If you can spare 22 minutes, I recommend that you watch a lecture by Sir David Attenborough at http://www.thersa.org/events/vision/vision-videos/sir-david-attenborough and note his comments about religion towards the end of the lecture.

  • Anonymous

    At the Vatican, we’re very, very, sorry for facilitating the relocation of child-abusing priests while keeping their misdemeanors secret and enabling them to reoffend – we don’t know what came over us. We are also very sorry for trying to deflect the blame onto anybody else but ourselves (especially for blaming the victims), and for obstructing justice by, for example, witholding evidence from prosecutors, and for failing to provide adequate help and compensation for the victims voluntarily, and for spreading lies about the extent and seriousness of the abuse, and about the involvement of the Pope. Again, we assure you it is not in our nature at all to be so utterly despicable. Now please leave us alone with our privileged access to children so that we can carry on doing the same.

    P.S The above apology excludes the intellectual abuse of innocent young children by religious indoctrination.

  • M Forrestal

    I believe that Green politics is Australia (and elsewhere) has been heavily influenced by Peter Singer. Their policies bear a striking similiarity to many of his… However, it is not enough for the bishops to highlight green policies, they must also propose a clear alternative. Unfortunately, green concerns are not always taken seriously or are rated second best by Chrisitans. This is a serious mistake. Many people are trying to make a genuine difference and are turning away from Christinaity because of misunderstood dominioship, callousness and dualism in osme quarters. The bishops should be pointing clearly to models like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Basil the Great, amongst others, and reclaiming the cosmic and universal vision of the Catholic faith.

  • whytheworldisending

    Thank you for this information. I was not aware that the Greens were like that – I only looked at their website. The common enemy is Consumerism, which damages both the planet and society, so its a shame that what started as a fine movement became corrupted in this way. You could say the same thing about the Labour Party.