Category Archives: Public Policy

Australia’s Catholic bishops speak out for persecuted people

FullSizeRender_200Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, Australia’s Catholic bishops have told a Parliamentary inquiry.

More than 100,000 Christians are killed each year because of their faith and the bishops highlighted how Christians had been driven from the cradle of Christianity in the Middle East.

The Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is holding an ‘Inquiry into the status of the human right to freedom of religion or belief’. The inquiry this week published the Bishops’ submission.

But Christians are by no means the only people suffering for their faith, with the submission also condemning the persecution of Yazidis, Baha’is, Jews, Muslims and others.

“Understanding and recognising the full complexity of the right to freedom of religion or belief will be increasingly important to Australia negotiating its way in the world,” said Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, Archbishop Denis Hart. Continue reading

Group of palliative care practitioners speak out against euthanasia & assisted suicide

More than 30 of Australia and New Zealand’s top palliative care practitioners have joined forces to oppose the introduction of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, describing the practice as “unnecessary and unsafe”.

A letter, authored by Professor Douglas Bridge and co-signed by 32 other palliative care specialists and medical professionals was published in this week’s edition of the Medical Journal of Australia’s MJA InSight.

It was a response to an opinion piece recently published in the MJA by Palliative Care Specialist, Professor Emeritus Ian Maddocks, who asked whether it was time to consider an integration of palliative care, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide (EPAS).

“As palliative care practitioners, we know this supposed common ground is both a contradiction in terms and contrary to sound medical practice,” the letter from the 33 practitioners says.

“Supporting people when they are dying is utterly different to intentionally causing them to die. What Professor Maddocks calls ‘a single effective intervention’ is in fact an act of killing.” Continue reading

Politicians should respect the right of people of faith to hold a different view on marriage

Parliament House, Canberra

Parliament House, Canberra

All members of religious groups deserve the right to not participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies if they hold a traditional view of marriage, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) said in a submission released this week.

The Australian Senate has established a select committee to examine draft exemptions for ministers of religion, marriage celebrants and religious groups so they do not have to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, should the law be changed. The Select Committee on Same-Sex Marriage is expected to report on 13 February 2017.

“Changing the definition of marriage would have an impact on all the members of the Catholic Church, but perhaps the most significant impact would be on ordinary parishioners trying to live their Catholic faith in their daily lives,” said Archbishop Anthony Fisher, chair of the ACBC’s Commission for Family, Youth and Life. Continue reading

23rd Annual International Law & Religion Symposium discussing Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World

religious-freedom-imageAddress delivered on 4th October 2016 at the Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA on the conference theme: Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World

Firstly, thanks very much to Brigham Young University for organising this wonderful conference and for bringing us all together.

Australia is a pluralist society. We are blessed with freedom, a stable system of government and a rich mix of ethnic, racial and religious groups. But inherent in a pluralist society are different views and beliefs and the challenge of how to accommodate those different perspectives.

The Catholic Church in Australia is an established part of the community, with a quarter of Australians identifying as Catholic, with one in five Australian students attending Catholic schools and Catholic hospitals providing about ten percent of healthcare services across the nation. Continue reading