Weekend Wrap for 13 September 2020

The voluntary assisted dying debate is heating up in Tasmania; the ‘seal of confession’ has been unsealed in Queensland. Catch up on those stories and much more in this wrap up of secular news from the past week.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of the latest news on current issues, is also published on our Facebook page!

At the National Level

Survivors of gay conversion have written to states and territories that are yet to ban the practice to urge them to improve on the laws recently introduced in Queensland and the ACT.

A newly appointed deacon to the Royal Australian Navy says more Catholic chaplains are needed in the service (Catholic Weekly).

The long-term trend of fewer students studying theology at university is compounding the "drought of candidates" seeking ministry at local churches around Australia (Eternity News).

An Australian Baptist pastor is facing calls for his deportation from the United Kingdom after sparking a local row in Cornwell following the anti-LGBT comments he made on social media (Eternity News).

Around the Country

TAS: The Catholic Church has intensified its campaign against the voluntary assisted dying bill, with Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous urging Catholics to oppose it (The Advocate).

TAS: Premier Peter Gutwein sent a letter to Independent MLC Mike Gaffney to outline the government’s analysis of the voluntary assisted dying legislation, raising concerns about "significant risks" to patients and the medical profession (The Advocate).

TAS: Independent Mike Gaffney is confident the concerns raised by the government about his voluntary assisted dying legislation can be addressed, saying that to have 33 dot points asking for clarification on a bill of 157 pages is “not overly concerning” (The Mercury).

TAS: The Australian Christian Lobby sought to utilise the Premier's intervention as part of its campaign against what it calls “assisted suicide”, with the lobby ratcheting up its condemnation of Mike Gaffney’s bill as “rushed, ill-considered and fundamentally flawed” (ACL).

TAS: Former governor William Cox has urged members of parliament to reject the assisted dying bill, saying that society faces “legitimising the deliberate destruction of lives” (ABC).

QLD: Priests will face jail for not reporting confessions of child sexual abuse to state authorities following the passing of new laws to expand mandatory reporting requirements to religious leaders (Catholic Leader).

QLD: A Catholic bishop from the Diocese of Rockhampton says his priests will refuse to break the 'seal of confession' by reporting known or suspected cases of sexual abuse to police (ABC).

QLD: State government and opposition decision makers were among the audience as Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge launched the Catholic Bishops Queensland Election Statement in which the bishops condemned the push to introduce voluntary assisted dying (Catholic Leader).

WA: In a report on the state government’s proposed legislation to expand mandatory reporting to include religious ministers, a legislative committee has recommended preserving the confessional seal (Catholic Sentinel).

VIC: Melbourne’s Catholic priests are defying the state’s stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions to administer last rites to dying parishioners, with some arguing that the restrictions are an attack on “the free practice of religion” (The Australian).

ACT: The Liberals’ promise to provide a $17 million boost for Catholic schools if elected to government at next month’s territory election has been slammed by Education Minister Yvette Berry (ABC).

QLD: A lesbian reverend has been banned from an online LGBTIQ support groups over differences of opinion on the group’s support for the Noosa Temple of Satan’s activities, including its upcoming Black Mass (Sunshine Coast Daily).

QLD: The Australian Christian Lobby thanked its supporters for rallying behind an online petition to counter another petition that called for the removal of prayer from Brisbane City Council meetings, saying the higher number of signatures gathered “affirmed the legitimacy” of a Christian prayer being used to open council meetings (ACL).

NSW: The Salvation Army will re-examine claims made against a serial paedophile in the Newcastle area after being accused of failing to respond swiftly enough in the first instance (ABC).

Commentary and Analysis

Independent MLC Mike Gaffney discusses the pathway ahead for his voluntary assisted dying bill in the Tasmanian parliament (ABC).

As opponents to voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania continue using ‘slippery slope’ arguments to support their case, Mike Gaffney takes aim at the “tired and baseless” scare tactic (The Advocate).

Former Tasmanian governor William Cox and Jeremy Prichard write that the current voluntary assisted dying bill raises concerns about how to protect vulnerable people from undue influence (The Mercury).

Clinical psychologist Robyn Maggs writes that the terminally ill, who fear losing their ability to make their own decisions while in palliative care, deserve the gift of knowing that a compassionate option is available (The Mercury).

Tasmanians must tackle the important ethical and human questions at stake with the voluntary assisted dying bill, writes Jeff Malpas (The Mercury).

Dr Meredith Doig writes that the government’s need to grant travel exemptions for priests or pastors with “critical skills” to come into Australia and fill long-term vacancies is more a reflection of the positive trend away from religious affiliation in Australian society (The Big Smoke).

With the Holy See rejecting all but two of the recommendations made by the child sexual abuse royal commission, Des Cahill and Peter Wilkinson question whether any Australian bishop will speak up (John Menadue blog).

Academics Larissa Sandy, Anastasia Powell and Rebecca Hiscock write that a national approach is needed to outlaw gay conversion practices, especially as proposed religious freedom exemptions at the federal level threaten to undermine state bans (The Conversation).

With Queensland and the ACT making recent moves to outlaw conversion therapy, Felicity Sleeman writes the New South Wales’ health minister Brad Hazzard has maintained silence on the issue (Star Observer).

The ploy of some Catholic bishops to attack pressure groups that are pushing for renewal in the lead up to the Plenary Council assemblies is adding to the fragmentation of the church, writes John Warhurst (Eureka Street).

In reviewing Suzanne Smith’s book ‘The Altar Boys’, Dr Chris Geraghty, a former Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney, despairs at “the culture, the crimes, the cover-ups, the clericalism, the corruption, the complicity”, but finds hope in the book’s two “outstanding heroes” (John Menadue blog).

In a letter to the ACT government, Alastair Lawrie calls on Chief Minister Andrew Barr to remove the special privileges provided to religious organisations to discriminate against people on the basis of sexuality and gender identity in the provision of health, community and social services.

That's it for another week!

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