Outrage over taxpayer tribute to JPII
South Australian Democrat MLC Kate Reynolds said she was "furious" $70,000 of taxpayers' money had been spent "commemorating the death of an 85-year-old Polish man in Italy".
The Advertiser reports today that she accused the State Government of paying the Catholic Church "30 pieces of silver" by funding a memorial service for the late Pope John Paul II.
Angry Deputy Premier Kevin Foley labelled Ms Reynolds's comments as "offensive, unnecessary, inflammatory and outrageous".
He called for "cool heads" from all MPs in the countdown to the March 18 state election.
Ms Reynolds' statements came less than 24 hours after Liberal MLC Julian Stefani accused the state's Catholic leaders of being "political harlots and goons" by being too close to Labor.
Ms Reynolds said the "enormous donation" for the memorial service was approved following a three-line request in a letter to Premier Mike Rann by Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson.
"Mike Rann has lost the plot," she said. "Social groups and carers who provide life-saving and life-sustaining help to the elderly, the sick, the homeless and the disadvantaged have to go through months of submissions and mountains of paperwork to get a few measly dollars of public money.
"It's bad enough that the Premier includes the church in his Cabinet. Now he's paying the church 30 pieces of silver. There is one process for the church hierarchy and one for everyone else. That's why I am so enraged."
Mr Foley said her criticisms were "the height of hypocrisy" as the Government had paid $9000 to hold a state funeral for former Democrats leader Janine Haines.
Mr Foley said the late pope was "one of the great leaders of the 20th century", and that every Pole and Catholic in SA would have wanted the Government to recognise his work.
A spokesman for Archbishop Wilson said the church did not wish to comment
Outrage over taxpayer-funded service (The Advertiser 3/2/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Hon Kate Reynolds
MP apologises to 'harlot' church leaders (CathNews 3/2/06)
Church "drawn into politics" by accepting Govt hospitality (CathNews 1/2/06)
3 Feb 2006