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Australian bishops warn Catholics against voting for Greens

By on Monday, 21 March 2011

Cardinal Pell distributes ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass in Sydney (CNS photo/Kerry Myers, Catholic Weekly)

Cardinal Pell distributes ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass in Sydney (CNS photo/Kerry Myers, Catholic Weekly)

Nine bishops from the state of New South Wales have joined Sydney Cardinal George Pell to warn Catholics about voting in the state election for the Greens, who have gained “significant” influence.

In a statement last week, the bishops said the Greens’ plans to “attack” freedom of religion and conscience and promote abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage “give rise to grave concerns for the protection of human rights and human dignity”.

The Greens could exercise “significant power over governments with only a few seats”, the bishops said in the statement called “The Green Agenda”.

Two New South Wales bishops, Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay and Bishop Michael McKenna of Bathurst, refused to sign the letter.

Bishop Walker told The Record, Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth: “The bishops need to take great care regarding intervention in the political process”. He said he supported the highlighting of key issues of concern, but added: “I do not believe … that attacking a particular political party serves to highlight these issues in the most effective way.”

Lismore Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, one of the letter’s signatories, said the prelates were not telling people how to vote, but doing “what people expect of us” – being “watchmen on the tower”.

“We’re just saying that we’re pastors of the flock and we see danger, and we want to raise concern to anybody who will listen, especially in our own Catholic community and for wider society as well,” Bishop Jarrett said.

The Greens are applying pressure on the federal government to amend the Marriage Act to allow homosexual marriage. If they fail at the federal level to address this “unfair discrimination”, the Greens will introduce a bill into the New South Wales Parliament to allow same-sex marriage.

In the statement, the bishops said it was “not ‘unfair’ to recognise that marriage is the union of a man and a woman who bind themselves to each other for the well-being of their children”.

“Changing the law on marriage would expose churches and schools to coercive pressures from the state to cease teaching their beliefs about marriage and family.

“Same-sex relationships and the relationship between a man and a woman are different realities, and it helps no one to call different relationships by the same name,” the bishops said.

The Greens will pursue the removal of abortion as an offence under the Crimes Act and support Victoria state’s successful 2009 legislation that denies doctors the right of conscientious objection to participate in or be associated with the practice of abortion.

“It is remarkable that such offensive laws could be passed in an Australian parliament, denying individuals the fundamental freedom of belief, conscience and religion,” the bishops said.

Though the Greens tried unsuccessfully to introduce euthanasia legislation into the New South Wales Parliament last year, the bishops warned of an “ongoing concern”.

“For all the talk about choice, freedom and dignity, the reality is that euthanasia is the killing of another human being. Evidence from countries like the Netherlands and Belgium shows that many of those euthanised are involuntary victims. They did not choose to be killed,” the bishops said.

“You cannot write into law absolute safeguards and protections to prevent this here. Abuses and exploitation of the vulnerable will occur,” they added.

  • http://twitter.com/atlanticist RobertJT

    “Same-sex relationships and the relationship between a man and a woman are different realities, and it helps no one to call different relationships by the same name,” the bishops said. Absolutely: the definition of the word “marriage” is being altered rapidly. But there is now also almost no chance that change can be arrested, much less reversed.

    Trying to stop this is akin to demanding suddenly that the word “gay” be once more about only “fun”. Logically, then, the best way forward is for the church to “invent” a new word that applies only to heterosexual unions as conducted by the church. Then the state can do what it wants.

  • Email

    The Bishops have the duty to call a spade a spade and lead from the front.

  • NevilleDeVilliers

    and we the Presbyterate of the Laity have a duty too, to ignore them.

  • Semper Fidelis

    Why would you ignore such eminently common sense advise. It would appear that Australia is in danger of becoming the worlds most intolerant liberal/feminist fundamentalist society. The State of Victoria is obviously a very scary/intolerant place if a doctor cannot avail of the conscientious objection to become involved in something as vile/evil/sub-human as abortion. Maximum respect to the Catholic Bishops. But Australia sounds like a very sinister/intolerant society. I won’t be visiting too readily !.

  • Arthur

    Coercive pressure by the state to prevent teaching of Christian beliefs which are contrary to the liberal consensus, and living by those beliefs, is already a reality in the UK. Australian Christians would be very wise to fight hard against it in their country.

  • aisake

    If God is with u,s whom shall i fear! Let the Church be a source of peace, justice and we reveal to others the compasionate face of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has planned for us, his own people anything man try to implement that against his Holy will it will not be successful. Please Australian Catholic Followers let us use this lent season to pray for the changes that they try to take. God bless Australia and Faithful Followers of Christ.

  • Anonymous

    The Church does not own marriage as an institution, and is and has been society that has formed its meaning. Marriage as an idea has existed before Christianity and further than the spread of Christianity.

    Catholics that talk about the modern hi-jacking of the institution of marriage are wrong firstly in that they perceive sole ownership of the concept and secondly in that marriage in different forms was prevalent before the Church. The Romans before Christianity celebrated homosexual marriage in the same way as heterosexual marriage, as did the Greeks. Later in Ming dynasty China marriage could also come under the homosexual guise.

    As a Catholic I reject the Church’s view on homosexuality, but I DO respect its right to have an opinion. What I do reject is it forcibly trying to enforce its view on the rest of society regardless of their beliefs.

    State marriage should be of no concern to the Church, it is a legal arrangement – devoid of religion and not a sacrament. If it wants to keep its the sacrament of marriage purely heterosexual, I disagree, but uphold the right of the Church to do so.

  • Anonymous

    altered, only from a Judeo-Christian point of view. Marriage as an institution, under a number of cultures – including the Greeks, the Roman Empire and Ming Dynasty China all celebrated homosexual marriages.
    It was the early Church that in fact altered the human definition of marriage in the first place.

  • Semper Fidelis

    You are spouting irrational mumbo-jumbo. The Catholic Church teaches that we are reasonable/rational human beings ( Aquinas developed this teaching & the Church in it’s wisdom has kept the faith ). See ” The Victory of Reason ” ; How Christianity Led To Western Success ” ; by Prof. Rodney Stark. Logically the Church must oppose so called ” same sex ” marriage on the grounds of irrationality. As from a Catholic perspective such ” marriage ” is on the same level of rationality as bovine or indeed canine marriage. You’re obviously not familiar with Catholic teaching on free will ; which sets Catholicism apart from all determinist ideologies ( socialism/fascism/doctrinaire feminism/liberal fundamentalism ), & religions. For that reason the Catholic Church does not enforce it’s teaching’s on those who do not subscribe to it’s beliefs. Having free will, you are quite free to leave. Logically also, for it’s very survival, the State does have a vested interest in conventional marriage. ” Same sex ” marriage being incapable of pro-creation is obviously a recipe for demographic disaster ; in addition to being inherently unnatural & unhealthy.

  • Anonymous

    ‘the Catholic Church does not enforce it’s teaching’s on those who do not subscribe to it’s beliefs. Having free will, you are quite free to leave.’

    The Catholic Church SHOULD not, not DOES not. The Catholic Church lobbies democratically elected bodies and makes public statements in order that governments change their polices, and therefore FORCE those ‘who do not subscribe to it’s beliefs’ into having to live by its teaching. Abortion, stem-cell research, sex-education – the general public, of whom 90% are not weekly church goers, would – if it was up to the Church live by its point of view. You cannot deny that the Church makes every effort to impose its beliefs.

    ‘quite free to leave’ – The Church does try to enforce its beliefs on the general population, not just the Church congregations, so one cannot leave – unless you are suggesting people should leave the country itself. If the Church did not want to force its beliefs, it would not take a position on gay marriage, except to tell people that it would only uphold heterosexual marriage in its Churches.

    ‘the State does have a vested interest in conventional marriage.’ ‘homosexual marriage being incapable of pro-creation’

    Homosexual couples regardless of marriage are incapable of pro-creation – how would the legality of homosexual marriage lead to population problems? If you believe, as is the official position of the Church – that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon – ‘a cross to carry’, then it cannot be ‘spread’ but is inherent. Therefore homosexual marriage cannot ‘encourage’ less procreation!
    Furthermore, if the Church has an interest in stable family environments, it should support homosexual marriage as many gay couples adopt children – to have state marriage as an option would give more stability to these families.

    ‘in addition to being ‘inherently unnatural’ ‘Naturality’ is a very poor definition of ethics, so this is a poor argument. Where is the morality in the deaths of the 80% of fetus’s that don’t reach conception? Where is the justice in disease and pain? Where is morality in tsunamis and earthquakes? Where is the morality in the death and pain in the animal world?

    I think it is only fair to actually tackle my arguments before you deride them as ‘mumbo-jumbo’. You dodge my point on marriage as a human institution pre-dating the Church itself, and also homosexual marriage as pre-dating the Church.

  • Semper Fidelis

    Very, very confused thinking. It’s difficult to ” tackle your arguments “, as they are incoherent & all over the place. Of course the Catholic Church tries to influence Governments & other organisations for issues it believes in. Not for it’s own selfish ends, but for the common good of society & for quite reasonable/rational reasons. Quite obviously the Church opposses abortion, euthanasia, divorce, same sex marriage ( because all of these are patently not good for a healthy society ; not just for Catholics ) & other areas that it believes are not for the good of society. It does’nt attempt to force anyone to do anything ; as that would be oppossed to it’s teaching on free will. It attempts by reason to persuade others to its point of view. Your long rant about death & pain etc. is unintelligle from a Catholic perspective. You might read ” The Problem of Pain “, by C.S. Lewis ( a non Catholic ), to correct your flawed thinking. Re. homosexual practices, we must be compassionate but not approving. You should read 2357-2359 of the Cathecism of The Catholic Church to correct your erroneous views. The concept of Christian marriage is unique from all others. Again you might read ” The Rise of Christianity ” by Prof. Rodney Stark, which explains the unique attractiveness of Christian marriage to women in particular, by comparison with the existing pagan equivalents. Overall you seem to be over influenced by some kind of woolly liberal/socialist utopianism ; Catholic teaching/philosophy is obviously an area you need to address in your education.

  • Anonymous

    This was not at all the point I was getting at. I will accept for the purpose of this discussion the need for pain and suffering in the world. Just because their is a need for pain and suffering in the world does not make it a moral-standard, what is ‘natural’ may be necessary – but it is not moral. Is it morally beneficial that Jimmy does not pass his maths test and is upset? No. Is it necessary for the laws of maths to remain constant. Yes. Necessary – not moral.
    Whether something is ‘natural’ or not, and to equate that to morality is very flawed – that is what I was objecting to.

    ‘Of course the Catholic Church tries to influence Governments & other organizations for issues it believes in’
    Which is of course inconsistent with:
    ‘The Catholic Church does not enforce it’s teaching’s on those who do not subscribe to it’s beliefs’

    If the Church uses the rule of law to enforce its teaching, then it is forcing it upon people who do not subscribe to its beliefs! I do not object to the Church having a voice – I am pointing out the inconsistency in what you are saying.

    ‘Overall you seem to be over influenced by some kind of woolly liberal/socialist utopianism’ I would point out that socialism and homosexual rights are entirely unconnected. Socialism is economic theory and different wealth distribution.

    I would also point out that Catholic social teaching is of a highly left-wing perspective. I suggest you read, ‘Sollicitudo Rei Socialis’, the 1987 papal encyclical in regard to social issues. It teaches that private charity is not enough to solve poverty and injustice and that political and economic structures that do not help to poor can rightly be called ‘structures of sin’.

    I would also point you to recent quotes from Pope Benedict: ‘Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty’, and that ‘he would move toward markets geared to “redistribute” wealth from advanced to poorer countries and sees “urgent need of a true world political authority” to, among other tasks, “manage the global economy.”‘ (NY Times Interview)

    This pope and the papacy in general over the last 200 years has had a steadfastly favorable attitude to labour unions.
    I would also point you to other writing from the Church, such as the ‘The Reconstruction of the Social Order, Pope Pius XI’ 1931, which ‘Calls for an equal distribution of resources and wealth’, ‘Upholds the right to private property, but not as an absolute’ and ‘Argues that the concentration of economic power and greed cause untold suffering to the poor’.

  • Semper Fidelis

    Nonsense upon nonsense. You obviously don’t comprehend basis English. The Catholic Church quite legitimately/persuasively tries to argue it’s case for the common good. It does’nt & in keeping wih it’s teaching on free will it cannot force anyone to subscribe to it’s teaching. Given that it’s teaching is reasonable/rational it would obviously like to see it implemented, but it cannot force. Unlike determinist ideologies ( socialism/fascism/doctrinaire feminism/liberal;secular fundamentalism ) it believes in free will – you would need to read St. Thomas Aquinas for a clear exposition of Catholic teaching in this regard. If the law happens to coincide with Catholic teaching obviously that’s good. But you’re missing the point again. The Church does’nt want us to be forced to reluctantly obey with the force of the law. She teaches that these thing’s are inherently good for us. Again, we are free to disregard this teaching. For example, the Church counsels against homosexual practices not out of hatred/intolerance for homosexuals, but on the contrary out of love. I agree wholeheartedly with your esteem for the social teaching of Pope Pius X1. But the appliation of left-wing/right-wing is not applicable to the Catholic Church. The teaching can not be monopolised by any political persuasion. It transcends such banalities. The Church is for all people of good will, including extreme right & extreme left ( hopefully there extremities can be moderated ).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Adanac/100001237455741 Joe Adanac

    I generally vote for the green party here in Canada. I’m also a Catholic. I’m not sure why gay marriage and abortion should be a priority of the Australian greens, when the real problem is the crisis facing the environment. Truly, I think Jesus would be horrified at the sins we have afflicted on other species, and that’s something only the Green party understands. So as usual, no party really truly reflects my views. So I’m disappointed in the Australian greens for making these seemingly trivial social issues a major policy concern of theirs. But I’m also disappointed in the Catholic church, which has had far too little to say over the last 50 years about man’s abominable destruction of God’s environment. Certainly, the past two Popes have made some excellent speeches on the subject. But it has not really filtered down to church policy. The evidence is right here, where some Catholic bishops have the gall to take sides and declare that the killing of some unborn babies and the kissing of a few men is a far greater sin than the mass extinction of millions of God’s animal species along with the extreme poverty inflicted on millions by capitalist policies. In my opinion, both are sins, but I wonder by what criteria the Catholic church judges which is worse.

    Unfortunately, the Catholic church has a poor record when it comes to intervening in politics – witness how they sided with Franco’s fascist government during the Spanish Civil War and sided against poor people and those wishing political freedom. My opinion: the Catholic church, my church, which I love, should maintain their good policy of not intervening in politics. It only makes them look bad when they try to choose which sinful party is the “least evil”, and makes them look like hypocrites, things my church doesn’t need right now. Jesus said let those who are without sin throw the first stone…