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Jesuit defends Catholic voice on AIDS subcommittee


Fr Michael Kelly SJ has told a Sydney gay community newspaper that Catholics have a right to representation on Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott's HIV/AIDS subcommittee.

The subcommittee reports to the new Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis (MACASHH), a body formed to help create the Federal Government's strategy to fight sexually transmitted diseases.

"I am only one voice. I will be a responsible voice. I am an intelligent person and I will make an informed decision - I think the Catholic community has a right to its representative there and they are only one voice among many," said Fr Kelly (pictured), who is CEO of Church Resources.

He was defending his appointment in the face of criticism from members of the gay community fearing the appointment would provide the Church with an opportunity to bring its perceived intolerance of homosexual lifestyles to bear in government legislation.

Fr Michael Kelly, who was speaking with the Sydney Star Observer, said he would be making decisions on the basis of "common sense, the facts, the available money and the opportunities for proper and responsible public health behaviours".

When asked specifically about condom use he said he was of the view that it is "the lesser of two evils that should be the moral position" in public health issues.

Catholic gay activist Michael Kelly (no relation) suggested to the Star that no matter how progressive Fr Kelly's own positions may be, he would be forced to play church politics.

Meanwhile Brian Haill of the hitherto Melbourne Catholic agency the Australian AIDS Fund has welcomed the appointment, saying that he hopes Fr Kelly's inclusion will make for "a significant Catholic contribution that'll help sweep away some of the dark fears and cobwebs in the church".

SOURCE
HIV committee shock (Sydney Star Observer 4/3/04)
Welcoming new faces for sex advisory panel (The Australian AIDS Fund Inc. 3/3/04)
Flack for Abbott after recruiting Church Resources boss (CathNews 3/3/04)
Abbott sparks AIDS ire (The Age 3/3/04)
Australia: Health Groups Unite to Fight HIV Rise (HIV/AIDS NewsRoom / Sydney Star Observer 25/11/03)


5 Mar 2004