Fr Brennan's response to Abbott on religion, politics

Fr Frank Brennan has defended the right of churches to speak on political matters following last week's attack from Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott.

The Jesuit lawyer and human rights advocate Fr Frank Brennan was speaking to the Institute of Public Administration at Customs House in Brisbane on Tuesday evening.

His address was titled "Is there a place for one's religious views in Australian politics, law and public administration?"

Mr Abbott told the Institute of Public Affairs last week that "a political argument is not transformed into a moral argument simply because it's delivered with an enormous dollop of sanctimony".

"I do think that if churchmen spent more time encouraging virtue in people and less time demanding virtue from governments we would have ultimately a better society," he said.

Fr Brennan argued in his address that the Parliament can make laws that protect the national interest while violating the human rights of particular individuals and groups.

He said: "There are times when we Australians get the balance between national interest and individual liberty wrong, especially when the individual is a member of a powerless minority. Religious voices have a place when we attempt to correct that balance."

He went on to criticise the manner of Mr Abbott's intervention last week: "When politicians start referring to a group of citizens as the mob or a crowd, you know you are in desperate tabloid territory.

This week Tony Abbott said: 'What the Catholic Social Justice crowd are really saying is that according to their criteria of morality, no individual could be worse off in order to make any other individual better off.'"

Frank Brennan replies to Tony Abbott on religion in politics (Eureka Street Extra 17/10/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Tony Abbott MP
Frank Brennan (Wikipedia)

Abbott tells Church to "butt out" of politics (CathNews, 15/10/07)
Randwick Rabbi outraged by Brennan "ghetto" comments(CathNews, 17/11/06)
Federal Govt has resurrected Sir Joh: Brennan claims
(CathNews, 24/08/07)

18 Oct 2007