Vinnies' ruling on non-Catholics causes tension
A decision by the St Vincent de Paul Society to uphold a requirement that its senior officeholders must be Catholics has one Queensland Conference president threatening legal action.
The Sunday Mail reports on the case of Linda Walsh, a 48 year old volunteer for five years who is president of the Conference that oversees the Logan area south of Brisbane. It says she was given an ultimatum last Monday to stop practicing as a Presbyterian and convert to the Catholic faith by June or leave her position.
Ms Walsh said she was devastated by the ultimatum, which comes despite her holding previous conference president's positions in the Woodridge and city areas along with her current position.
"It's discrimination in the highest form and I would have thought anyone would be welcome so long as you go out there with Christian beliefs and an open heart," she said. "I'm sorry but I've always thought it was a welfare organisation first, and as far as us volunteers are concerned, we thought we were there primarily to help the poor.
Vinnies state president Michael McKeown stood by the decision, saying the rules were clear in relation to senior volunteers, despite Ms Walsh holding such positions as a non-Catholic during the past five years.
Mr McKeown said a resolution by a meeting of the international ruling body of the charity at Fatima in Portugal in 1999 had set clear restrictions on membership.
He said key to the resolution was that "presidents and vice-presidents should be Roman Catholic".
Convert or be sacked: Vinnies (Sunday Mail 1/2/04)
St Vincent de Paul Society
2 Feb 2004