Priest's job "no threat" to separation of powers

The decision to give Adelaide archdiocese Vicar-General Msgr David Cappo a $100,000-a-year taxpayer-funded job was not a breach of the separation of powers between church and state, South Australian Premier Mike Rann insisted yesterday.

The Australian reports that Msgr David Cappo's decision to accept the part-time position of Social Inclusion Commissioner has prompted claims from federal MP Christopher Pyne it was "inappropriate".

The Church has refused to comment on Msgr Cappo's decision to take on the newly created role, while retaining his full-time job in the Adelaide diocese.

However Mr Rann said there was "a bit of confusion about the separation of church and state based on the Westminster system" after Mr Pyne, a Catholic, said he believed "very firmly" in the separation of church and state powers.

Mr Rann cited Federal Prime Minister John Howard's appointment of Anglican archbishop Peter Hollingworth to the position of governor-general as an example, claiming that "was not about the separation of powers".

"(Msgr Cappo) will be a darn sight better than archbishop Hollingworth," Mr Rann told parliament.

Opposition Leader Iain Evans said an "uneasy" public viewed Msgr Cappo's appointment as a "muddy mix of religion and politics". He said the Monsignor's role remained unclear, as no minister had requested that the position be created.

The Government has dodged questions in parliament over Msgr Cappo's precise powers, responsibilities, staffing arrangements and costs.

Mr Rann revealed he had discussed "an enhanced role" with Msgr Cappo before the March state election and yesterday revealed he had expanded the commission's scope to include juvenile justice.

Msgr Cappo has worked on a voluntary basis for the state Government as chair of its social inclusion board for four years, and served in an unprecedented role as a non-elected member on the executive committee of cabinet for 12 months.

But as the Rann Government defended its close ties with the Church, a Labor backbencher called for churches "to stay out of backing political parties".

Priest's job 'no threat' to separation of powers (The Australian 5/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Adelaide
Government of South Australia

Support for Adelaide Vicar General's new Govt role (CathNews 2/5/06)
MP apologises to 'harlot' church leaders (CathNews 2/2/06)

Unholy row over church role in state (The Advertiser 4/5/06)
Priest 'wrong to take state job' (The Australian 4/5/06)

5 May 2006