Centacare has a right to sack homosexuals, according to Mr Abbott, the Minister for Workplace Relations, who has endorsed claims by the Catholic Church that its Jobs Network agency has the right to dismiss employees who live "openly at variance with church teaching".
    The minister was responding to draft guidelines issued by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) designed to protect staff employed by Centacare and the three other "faith based" agencies providing employment services on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
    "There are serious problems with the guidelines," he told the Herald. "They show a general lack of sympathy for the principle that a religious organisation has a right to maintain its own ethos."
    The HREOC draft guidelines are designed to deal with the four "faith based" agencies in Jobs Network now being paid to replace the old Commonwealth Employment Service.
    The Catholic Bishops Conference in Canberra is drafting a response to the HREOC.
    Mr Abbott, a former seminarian, supports the Church position, but insisted: "I am not backing it from a Catholic but a logical point of view."
    The director of Centacare Sydney, Fr John Usher, has assured the Herald that no adulterers, single mothers or homosexuals have been dismissed by his organisation.
    "I don't want anyone to be hurt by what is the teachings of the church but I would expect them not to hold up publicly any beliefs or behave in ways that would bring the agency or the church into disrepute," he said.
12 Sep 00

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