Religious freedom: mixed messages and cross-purposes

“It’s not fair.”

That was the plaintive cry from the Victorian hierarchy when the mean old state government announced that it will be making Catholic schools hire gay teachers.

“We stood up for you”, the Archbishop could be imagined to lament. “We shut our churches, we halted the First Blessing and the Last Rites; we stopped sanitising souls and started sanitising hands, just because you told us to. Heck, we even beat you to it!”

But instead of being grateful, bad Catholic Dan Andrews went full steam ahead with his pet project. Well, maybe that was always going to be the result when the Church set the bar so low by limiting Her mission to promoting “a fair and just society in which pluralism is valued and respected.” Sounds nice, but it’s just not Catholic.

From the Syllabus of Errors:

#15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion, which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.

Allocution “Maxima Quidem”, June 9, 1862; “Damnatio Multiplices Inter”, June 10, 1851.

Now, of course, for the bishops it is totally fine if they choose to allow gay teachers in their schools. (Likewise cohabiting or atheist or communist teachers.) But it’s a different matter entirely when the State compels a Catholic Education Department to stop exercising its autonomy, right?

It might seem virtuous to complain, but where exactly were you for the last few decades when parents despaired because their children were not adequately being taught the Faith?

And, as the pages of this website document, there wasn’t a peep from the Archdiocese when Dan Andrews tried to go full Nazi last month with his Pandemic powers. So this hullabaloo over restrictions on schools is not entirely consistent.

The schizophrenic state of affairs continues with an email from the chancellor to the Archdiocesan clergy, meant to apprise priests of the new laws and bills around religious freedom. The email includes links to several articles which are meant to provide reference material for the clergy.

One article is the Archbishop’s glowing appraisal of the Federal government’s religious freedom bill. That bill certainly does seem to offer some protections for Catholic schools, and may prove useful as it could override the state government’s proposals, which are clearly discriminatory (in the bad way.)

Another article is by ex-Labor MP and now Executive Director of the National Catholic Education Commission, Jacinta Collins, who thinks the proposed Federal bill will provide some necessary protections. So far, so good: with her strong pro-life record, at least she is somewhat Catholic.

For further suggested reading, the chancery includes an article from John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy of Education at the ACU Melbourne on the Victorian government’s new law. Professor Haldane rightly condemns the law, observing “the extent to which … it would curtail the operations of many religious institutions, including schools, to a point where they would struggle to continue,” and its “unwarranted restriction on the idea of the ethical.” Great. There should be more of this.

But then who else does the Archdiocese haul out to opine on the Federal bill? None other than Frank Brennan, the Jesuit arch-heretic who was so public in his support of gay marriage. And the best ammunition he can muster to support his position on the bill is the UN declaration on Human Rights!

Well, come to think of it, the choice of Brennan as apologist might be rather apt: he is the perfect role model for all those parents who like their schools “Catholic, but not too Catholic.”

(And remember that little ol’ Plenary Council? Brennan is a peritus. Just one more reason why it’s difficult to take the Plenary seriously.)

But back to the Archbishop’s lauding and lamentations – here’s a little free advice:

Anyone who is really serious about a “free and open society”, giving people a “fair go”, and avoiding “un-Australian” behaviour, would not be banning priests from attending Freedom rallies or implementing segregation in their parishes.

They would not be sacking priests for educating their parishioners about harmful and immoral “vaccines”.

They would be financially supporting Catholics who are out of work because of vaccine mandates. (Although that won’t happen here, as the Melbourne Archdiocese is broke.)

But in an Archdiocese where Catholic students can attend a formal with their gay partner, where a public sinner like Premier Daniel Andrews can receive Holy Communion at a celebrity funeral, where a Catholic college persecutes students who don’t follow their LGBTI agenda, and where the process of amalgamating parishes is being deceptively promoted as non-amalgamation, consistency is obviously not its strongpoint.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for the hierarchy to understand that for a Catholic school to merit the right to employ the staff of its choice, that school would have to actually be Catholic, in ethos and practise.

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