Priest says Govt can't be selective in listening to Church
It is not good enough for the federal Government to "cherry pick" its church leaders, listening only to those who supported its policies while dismissing their views when they disagreed, according to Jesuit Fr Frank Brennan.
The Australian reports that Fr Brennan also attacked John Howard's recent claim that there was "no such thing" as a Catholic or Anglican view of the world.
"Maybe Mr Howard was concerned about the effect that the archbishops' remarks could have on some senators and members of the public not quite so convinced about the need to take the industrial reform package on trust," he said.
Fr Brennan, Professor of Human Rights and Social Justice at the Australian Catholic Univetrsity, delivered a lecture at the University in Sydney last night titled 'Mixing Law, Religion and Politics'. He will deliver it in Melbourne tonight, and in Brisbane on 13 October (see right).
He argues church leaders could make statements of principles consistent with church traditions and teaching on economic matters. This included making a critical analysis of the likely impact of legislation.
When Sydney's Anglican archbishop, Peter Jensen, and his Catholic counterpart, Cardinal George Pell had expressed reservations about the industrial relations legislation recently, Mr Howard had played down their comments. Asked for his response to the leaders being "worried about the impact ... on family life", the Prime Minister had said this was an exaggerated characterisation.
"It is far too cavalier for government or their supporters to dismiss church leaders who have restricted themselves to statements of the principle," Fr Brennan said.
Fr Brennan said religion had a place at the table of public discussion in a way it had not during the 1990s Wik debate on native title, when then prime minister Paul Keating had labelled him a "meddling priest".
Since the September 11 attacks there had been a growing consciousness that religion could not be marginalised in public debate, particularly because of the need to accommodate the voice of the Muslim community and therefore to include consideration of Christians.
This had been enhanced by the realisation that religious and humanist organisations were the ones who swung into action during crises such as the Boxing Day Asian tsunamis.
Priest avows right to meddle in politics (The Australian 21/9/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Free public lecture on Religion and Politics at ACU National (Australian Catholic University 19/9/05)
A Catholic View on the Prime Minister's New Church-State Doctrine Frank Brennan (Jesuits Australia/Eureka Street)
Brennan lecture to expand on religion and politics comments (CathNews 20/9/05)
Jesuit says dishonest politics making Australia a terror target (CathNews 16/3/04)
22 Sep 2005