Articles are reproduced with thanks from the Archdiocesan website, unless otherwise stated.


Friday 10 June 2016

Paul Russell

The Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Victorian Parliament handed down its Report into End-of-Life choices in Victoria today.

The extensive report makes some valuable comments and recommendations in respect to improvement in palliative care.

It acknowledges that access to palliative care is patchy, is overburdened and needs improvement. In a country rated recently as second in an international table for end-of-life care, it still remains that the availability of such care is more closely related to postcode than it is to need.

The committee heard from many individuals whose family members had passed away in circumstances that were clearly far from what all Victorians would want and certainly far from best practice. The committee seems to take it as read that such cases are compelling proof that Victoria needs a regimen of 'assisted dying' – euthanasia or assisted suicide. Few, I contend, are that clear.

While family members submitting their stories to the committee often (but note: not always) called for legislative change, the submissions and stories may well have been evidence of poor care, lack of care options or, indeed, refusal of good care options; we simply do not know. For the committee to seem so easily to have accepted that poor deaths require the State of Victoria to help people to suicide is a travesty as much as it is the potential abandonment of people in great need.

13 June 2016

Fr Tony Kerin, Episcopal Vicar for Life, Marriage and Family

AS chaplain to a big Melbourne hospital, I often provide comfort and support to those dying and their families. Another part of my ministry in the parish is visiting families in the aftermath of suicide.

The death of a loved one leaves those close to them with a sense of pain and loss, but the agony caused by suicide is different.

“What more could I have done?” and the unanswerable “Why?” haunt those left after such a tragedy. While suicide may seem to a person taking their own life as a way to end their suffering, it does not remove the pain. It just shifts the distress on to others.

The Victorian Government’s Inquiry into End of Life Choices addressed many important questions. Recommendations such as improving education for health professionals and improving access to palliative care, if legislated, will definitely improve outcomes for Victorians approaching the end of life. But recommendation 49 to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia will transfer the distress to health professionals and to family, as anyone who has experienced a loved one’s suicide knows only too well. It does not remove the suffering.

This year, the Victorian Government has committed $27.5 million to suicide prevention and rightly so. Organisations like Lifeline and beyondblue do extraordinary work reaching out to vulnerable people at risk of taking their own lives. Yet this recommendation to government is an Orwellian contradiction that promotes suicide as a “medical treatment” at the same time.

6 May 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has decided that it is not in the public interest to continue investigating an anti-discrimination complaint against Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops.

The decision by Commissioner Robin Banks follows a voluntary withdrawal of the complaint by complainant, transgender advocate and Greens political candidate for the upcoming federal election, Martine Delaney.

Ms Delaney lodged a complaint in November 2015 under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) about the distribution of the Don't Mess With Marriage booklet, which was a pastoral letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops outlining the Church's teaching on marriage, in Catholic schools in Tasmania.

The complaint was made against Archbishop Porteous and all the Australian Catholic Bishops, and followed a call to action by Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome, who urged teachers and parents to make a complaint to Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner about the pastoral letter.

The reason complainants were encouraged to make complaints in Tasmania is because its anti-discrimination laws are the broadest in the country. The laws make it an offence to engage in conduct which offends, humiliates or insults someone on the basis of their sexual orientation if it is reasonable to anticipate that person might be offended, humiliated or insulted.

10 Novemer 2016

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24 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Children have a right to be children, away from harms that can be inflicted on them by being exposed to pornography.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference made this assertion in a submission published last week by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications. The Standing Committee was tasked with inquiring into, and reporting on harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet, with particular reference to trends of online consumption of pornography by children and their impact on the development of healthy and respectful relationships, current methods taken towards harm minimisation in other jurisdictions, and the effectiveness of those methods, the identification of any measures with the potential for implementation in Australia and any other related matters.

The submission was prepared by the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life (BCFYL) earlier this month and published by the Standing Committee this week.

"We live in a sexualised culture where pornography has been mainstreamed. There is significant use of sexualised images in areas of advertising, music videos and computer games. Many of the images that confront children in day-to-day life are based on poses used in pornography.

18 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Most Rev. Terry Brady has told a Senate inquiry [into human trafficking] that human trafficking and slavery is a terrible consequence of economic and social exclusion.

In a submission to the inquiry made on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, Bishop Brady, Chair of the Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life, said that exclusion was the result of a number of factors.

"It is the result of not recognising the human dignity of each person, so people are treated as an object or a means to an end," he said. "It happens because people are in poverty and don't have access to adequate education or employment. It is caused by putting money and not people at the centre of the economy."

The Commission made the submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement last month.

"One approach that should be investigated as part of a community awareness strategy is the United Kingdom's Modern Slavery Act, which uses information to shine a light on the exploitation of workers. Under the UK legislation, businesses that reach a minimum turnover must issue an annual report on what they are doing to ensure their business and supply chain is not involved in human trafficking and the exploitation of workers.

11 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

"Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral - and not simply an economic - act." Pope Francis.

Christine Carolan, the Executive Officer of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), one of the Slavery-Free Easter Chocolate Campaign members, said buying slavery-free chocolate at Easter gave people a chance to take a stand against human trafficking and slavery. Slavery-free chocolate is chocolate that is free from exploitative labour practices.

ACRATH is asking Australians, particularly in Catholic parishes and schools, in the lead up to Easter to consider what chocolate they buy and eat at Easter. Ms Carolan said many supermarkets in Australia are selling slavery-free chocolate this Easter.

ACRATH reports that much of the chocolate that finds its way into shops and homes in Australia is made from cocoa from plantations in the West Coast of Africa. Presently children as young as 12 years old are the ones picking those cocoa beans in order to make the chocolate eaten by Australians.

Some of these children are trafficked. Most of the children are forced to pick cocoa from an early age for minimal or no wages, for long hours, in dangerous work conditions, without any possibility of attending school.

11 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Catholic and Islamic religious leaders including Bishop Robert Rabbat, Eparch of the Melkite Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand and Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia, met on Saturday 5 March 2016 at Masjid Arrahman, Kingsgrove where they discussed the issue of the proposed redefinition of marriage to allow for same-sex "marriage".

After the meeting concluded, the leaders united to issue a joint statement, which was read by Sheikh Youssef Nabha.

The text of the statement is as follows:

Our love of religious, family, moral and democratic values, prompts us to speak out in defence of society and humanity:

1.  We announce together, as Christians and Muslims, our support for natural marriage between a man and a woman, and our unity in rejecting the same-sex marriage legislation.

2.  A great many Australians, including people of all faiths and of none, oppose the attempts to change the definition of marriage, outlined in the Marriage Act 1961, to allow for same-sex marriage.

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