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Perth Archbishop calls for unity on morals

In his New Year's message, Archbishop Barry Hickey has condemned society's abandonment of traditional values and criticised other churches for not joining Catholics in a stand against issues such as divorce, abortion and embryonic stemcell research.

"A big part of society's problem has been the failure of Christian churches to speak with one voice on the crucial moral issues about human life," he said.

"This disunity creates confusion and undermines the credibility of the churches. Christian churches will only be united on these issues when they are faithful to the long biblical traditions about morality that they all once subscribed to."

According to the West Australian, he reiterated the Catholic Church's stance against abortion but emphasised the issue of stemcell research about which the Catholic Church has had a public disagreement with Australian Anglican Church head Archbishop Peter Carnley.

Anglican Diocese of Perth administrator Bishop David Murray took issue with Archbishop Hickey yesterday, saying that while churches should aspire towards a united position, that required co-operation from both sides.

"Unity always requires each side to listen to the other very carefully," he said.

Archbishop Hickey also attacked the breakdown of family values.

"The marriage breakdown rate is almost an epidemic in proportions," he said. "A lot of that is to do with a lack of commitment, lack of preparation for marriage, lack of seriousness about relationships. I think the churches should be together in saying that people should wait until marriage and not live together before marriage.

"We should be together in saying that, but we are not."

Bishop Murray disagreed, saying: "The Anglican Church's position is as it always has been, that it encourages marriage and family life as a way of strengthening society but it also acknowledges that not everybody is called to the vocation of marriage, nor family life.

"There are many people that are called to single lives and other expressions of relationships."

Archbishop Hickey vowed to increase his Church's involvement in ethical issues this year.

"These are very serious matters and the Catholic Church, for one, won't stay silent," he said.

In his New Year's message, the Archbishop also praised the Australian tradition of generosity, particularly with regard to the community's response to the tsunami disaster in South Asia.

Hickey call for unity on morals (The West Australian 1/1/05)

Catholic Archdiocese of Perth

Perth archbishops disagree on when life begins (CathNews 6/1//03)
Perth Archbishop attacks sex Bill(CathNews 6/2/03)
Hickey calls for unity, end of political labelling in local Church (CathNews 27/1/04)

New year a time for spiritual reflection, says church leader [Archbishop Hickey] (ABC News 31/12/04)

4 Jan 2005