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Articles are reproduced with thanks from the Archdiocesan website, unless otherwise stated.



Religious Freedom Fundamentally Important - Attorney General George Brandis

14 August 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

This year's University of Notre Dame's annual Lecture on Religious Liberty will be given by Federal Attorney General, Senator George Brandis on Wednesday, 20 August at the university's Sydney School of Law, Broadway.

At a time when religious freedoms are increasingly being eroded in the Western world, Senator Brandis both as Shadow Attorney General in opposition and now as the Commonwealth's Attorney General, has been a fierce and outspoken defender of religious liberty which he regards as a fundamentally important value.

"The right of people who practice or profess a particular religious faith to live their lives and to conduct their institutions in accordance with the precepts of their religious faith is integral to religious freedom and religious freedom is a fundamentally important value," the Senator explained in vigorous opposition when the Labor Government's Sex Discrimination (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Amendment Bill 2013 was being debated.

The Bill which became law on 1 August last year was rushed through Parliament in the final sitting week of the Labor Government in June 2013, not only included provisions to protect sexual orientation and gender but nullified religious exemptions for faith-based aged care centres and institutions.

This has meant all aged care facilities that receive Government funding must accept same-sex couples and provide them with double beds rather than two single rooms as had been the practice at aged care homes managed by Catholic and other faith-based organisations.

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Faith Faces Increasing Challenges in Today's Secular World

12 August 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Christianity is deliberately being pushed out of Western culture so that secular liberalism can be established in its place, says one of the USA's leading ethicists, Dr Benjamin Wiker.

A member of America's Envoy Institute's Catholic Apologetics, prolific author and conference speaker, Dr Wiker is in Sydney this week to deliver a series of lectures at the Catholic Adult Education Centre (CAEC) at Lidcombe, and to conduct an intensive two-day course at the Centre on Saturday and Sunday, August 16 and 17.

Free to the public, Dr Wiker's first lecture entitled: "Worshipping the State: Secular Liberalism as the New Religion of the West," will take place at Lidcombe' Catholic Centre tonight at 7.30 and will show how over the past 200 years secular states have transferred the worship of God to the worship of humanity itself.

"Or more precisely transferred the worship of God to the greatest concentration of human power, which is the state itself," Dr Wiker says and contends that since the French Revolution and the Age of Reason that followed, political movements have rejected Christianity and transferred the worship of God to worship of the secular state.

This idolisation of the state can be seen in political movements such as Nazism, Fascism, Nationalism, Communism and Socialism, he says and believes it is no accident that scholars refer to these movements as "political religions."

Not only has Christianity been increasingly rejected and overtaken by these "political religions" but secular states gained power by promising to give citizens in this life what Christianity has only promised in the next.

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'I come to you because my people suffer' - Archbishop of Aleppo Jean-Clement Jeanbart

29 July 2014
Aid to the Church in Need

'MANY Muslims are now shy to declare themselves Muslim. I have heard several Muslims say to me: "I am ashamed - I do not understand that Islam is like that". So I think it is the time for a true dialogue. I think it is the day of the Lord perhaps. So I have to take my Cross in my hand, even if I'm 70, and begin my mission again - and I feel myself a man of 45.' With these words, the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, voiced his dedication to those whom he calls ‘his people’ during a visit to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The war in Syria is now three years old. The suffering is indescribable, the devastation terrible. Hundreds of thousands of families in mourning, millions of refugees who no longer know where to turn and so hide at home, hunting day and night to feed their children. Archbishop Jeanbart explains that a barbaric scorched earth policy has left nothing untouched in its passage - thousands of industries damaged and tens of thousands of schools, hospitals and dispensaries destroyed. 'All the structures, all the infrastructure, the heritage, all the industry - they have destroyed every single means of income for these people. People have no way to live in the cities - of course in the country they are farmers and they can live - but in the cities … Aleppo has lost 1400 industrial structures, this is a suffering.'

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Widespread Support for Nitschke Suspension

24 July 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life, Marriage and Family centre has welcomed the decision by the Australian Medical Board to suspend euthanasia campaigner, Dr Philip Nitschke from practising medicine in a ruling that finds Nitschke "a serious risk to public health and safety."

The ruling handed down last night came after an investigation by the Board revealed Nitschke had communicated by email with Nigel Brayley, a 45-year-old Perth man who had sought advice on how to kill himself before committing suicide in May this year.

Although said to be suffering from depression, Nigel Brayley did not suffer from a terminal illness and was still a young man.

For Chris Meney the death of Nigel Brayley is an example of the "slippery slope" the Church and pro-life advocates have long warned about, and which is also documented in countries such as the Netherlands where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal.

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A Win for Religious Freedom in the US - For the Moment

18 July 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

A move to reverse the "Hobby Lobby" contraceptive ruling in the US Senate has failed - but not forgotten.

Republicans blocked a Democratic-led bill designed to override a Supreme Court ruling and ensure access to contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies with religious objections.

However the Democrats have promised to re-energise the debate later in the year.

But the debate is simply not just one of pro-choice or pro-life. It is very much one of religious freedom and needs further explanation.

On 30 June, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in favour of Hobby Lobby against Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in relation to the HHS Mandate. The HHS Mandate, issued under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as ObamaCare), required that from August 2012, all employer-provided health insurance plans provide 20 forms of contraception, without the need for co-payment from the employee.

Failure to comply with the HHS Mandate would see a company fined $100 per day, for each of their employees. It was estimated that for Catholic Charities USA, the fine for non-compliance would amount to $140 million per year.

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Greens Latest Euthanasia Bill Deeply Offensive

10 July 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

To table a Bill in the Senate in yet another bid to legalise euthanasia, but to omit the word euthanasia and instead describe physician-assisted deaths as "medical services" is deeply offensive, says Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life Marriage and Family Centre.

The Bill which was tabled in Federal Parliament by Greens Senator and former GP, Richard Di Natale late last month and is the latest in a long series of attempts by Greens and Independent Commonwealth and state politicians to legalise euthanasia.

"This Bill not only redefines euthanasia and assisted suicide as 'medical services' but proposes the Commonwealth reimburse those who kill its own citizens," Mr Meney says. "This is deeply offensive to all those who devote their lives to a profession dedicated to healing and life-giving."

The Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Exposure Draft Bill 2014, the Bill was tabled late last month before being referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for a Senate Inquiry. It relies on Section 51 of the Australian Constitution which gives Federal Parliament the power to legislate regarding medical services.

"It can be hard to talk about death but it is time we put dying with dignity laws firmly on the national agenda," Senator Di Natale said when presenting the Bill to the Senate on 24 June this year.

But over the past decade or more euthanasia in Federal, State and Territory Parliaments has seldom been off the political agenda.

Introduced as Private Members Bills both in the Upper and Lower Houses of State and Territory Parliaments each attempt to legalise physician assisted suicide has been resoundly defeated when put to the vote.

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Catholic Bishops and Jesuit Refugee Services Deeply Concerned at Fate of Tamil Asylum Seekers

3 July 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Australian Catholic Bishops and the Jesuit Refugee Refuge Service Australia (JRS) are concerned for the lives of more than 150 Tamil asylum seekers who were on board two vessels making their way to Australia, but who have not been heard from since Friday, 27 June.

Fr Maurizo Pettena, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office says although the Government has provided little information on the situation he is alarmed by media reports suggesting that asylum seekers may be returned to Sri Lanka without proper processing of their claims for asylum.

He is also deeply troubled by reports that suggest the Australian Government will hand over the asylum seekers believed to be on board an Australian Customs Vessel to the Sri Lankan Navy to be returned to their country of origin.

"While the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka has come to an end, underlying discrimination remains a violent reality for many of the Tamil people," he warns and cites reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of the continuing precarious situation for Tamils including those who have been marked by torture and others who have simply disappeared.

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AP issues massive correction on Ireland child burial story

Wednesday 26 June 2014

Catholic News Agency

The Associated Press has retracted key claims from its reports of an Irish Catholic home for unwed mothers supposedly burying hundreds of unbaptised infants in a septic tank.

A correction issued 20 June explained that “the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the [septic] tank contains, if any.”

In addition, the AP said that it had wrongly reported that many of the children were unbaptized according to Church teaching.

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