Abbott "at ease" with faith in politics

Government policies on industrial relations, mandatory detention and the Iraq war are not incompatible with Christian or Catholic principles, says federal Health Minister Tony Abbott in a report published today in The Australian.

But Mr Abbott, who studied to join the priesthood before entering parliament, said it is not appropriate for politicians to blatantly promote their religious beliefs in government.

Delivering the inaugural St Thomas More's Forum in Canberra and speaking to the topic "A Catholic in Public Life", Mr Abbott said politicians should not shrink from their religious beliefs.

"We shouldn't be embarrassed or mealy-mouthed about our faith," said Mr Abbott.

"If it's OK to be upfront about ethnicity and, in the eyes of some, sexuality, why not be proud of religious affiliations?"

But he said the Government's policy turned on "human reason and wisdom", not religious faith.

Questioned by the largely Catholic audience about contentious areas of policy, Mr Abbott defended the Government's Christian credentials.

"Providing more freedom in the workplace is not an unreasonable goal (or) incompatible with our teaching," he said of IR reforms criticised by some church leaders.

Mr Abbott said that the removal of Saddam Hussein could also be justified under Christian principles. And on mandatory detention, the Government had toughened laws to protect Australians.

"I don't say it's a good thing. I just say it's not immoral or unethical," he said. "While I don't think we are perfect, I don't believe we are moral monsters."

Mr Abbott said reconciling his religious faith with politics required compromise.

This month's Archdiocesan Catholic Voice newspaper reported that the St Thomas More Forum was set up by St Thomas More's Parish, Campbell, in Canberra, to invite speakers to the parish to address topics including reflections on the life of St Thomas More and issues that will enhance adult faith formation.

Abbott at ease with faith in politics (The Australian 20/7/05)
A busy parish begins renewal (Catholic Voice July 2005)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Tony Abbott MHR, Federal Member for Warringah

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Jesuit defends Abbott impartiality (CathNews 4/3/05)
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Liberals say Abbott will pay for commitment to faith before politics (CathNews 8/11/04)

Social Doctrine Could Aid Politicians, Says Cardinal (Zenit 10/7/05)
Catholic MP denied Communion for gay marriage stance (Catholic World News 9/7/05)
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20 Jul 2005