Weekend Wrap for 28 March 2020
The reckless actions of some religious fundamentalists have drawn the Jewish community into the public spotlight as the pandemic worsens in Australia. This is the Weekend Wrap, bringing you the news and views of concern to secular Australia.
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!
News Related to the coronavirus
Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who has previously said his religious beliefs were a private matter – used a speech in parliament to reveal that his “prayer knees” were getting a good workout and to call on people of faith to pray during the pandemic (Canberra Times).
The Prime Minister ordered places of worship, among other public places of social gathering, to close as the government introduced more strict measures to combat the spread of coronavirus (7 News).
Members of parliament have hit out at members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Melbourne for endangering public health by defying social-distancing restrictions to gather for group prayer sessions (The Age).
Federal Liberal MP Dave Sharma appears to have informed his local Jewish community that it has special exemptions from government-mandated restrictions on wedding ceremonies (J-Wire).
ABC coronavirus reporter Norman Swan urged his own Jewish community to practice social distancing ahead of the Pesach festival (ECAJ).
A senior member of the Jewish community has warned that “many members of our community will succumb” to the virus, as details emerged of likely infections from a large Jewish wedding in Melbourne (Australian Jewish News).
The Australian Christian Lobby is calling on the Morrison government to block pornography websites during the pandemic to prevent “internet gridlock” and “even loss of lives” (ACL).
Some Catholic priests in Sydney have vowed that they are “prepared to go to the bedside of the dying” despite the risk of further infections during the pandemic (Catholic Weekly).
A Hillsong pastor in the US has tested positive to coronavirus, despite members having been assured earlier this month that their faith in the Lord meant "no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling" (Eternity News).
In a letter to clergy and parishioners, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher compared the closure of church activities during the pandemic to the suppression of Catholicism in the early days of the British colony.
News Relating to Other Issues
The federal government has been accused of using the coronavirus pandemic to “sneak” through parliament new provisions that will give private schools an additional $3.4 billion “cash bonanza” over the next decade (AAP).
Former brother of St John of God and convicted paedophile Bernard McGrath has told a new documentary that the Catholic Church covered up his offending at schools (ABC).
In Tasmania, Independent MLC Mike Gaffney has pledged to not let the pandemic stop his push for the introduction of voluntary assisted dying bill in the state parliament later this year (The Examiner).
While voluntary assisted dying (VAD) campaigners in Queensland continue to wait for the release of a parliamentary report into VAD, one has described the palliative care system as “very poorly done” in response to the parliament’s tabling of a report on aged-care and palliative care (Morning Bulletin).
Commentary and Analysis
Equality campaigner Rodney Croome writes that Tasmania is the state that is will lose the most if Liberal and Labor MPs continue to remain silent as the Morrison government prepares to override the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act (The Examiner).
Retired Catholic teacher Gavin O’Brien argues that the church needs to welcome “with open arms” divorced and remarried Catholics, same-sex couples, and gays and lesbians (John Menadue blog).
Chris Sidoti writes that a letter from Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher gave him something to laugh at during the coronavirus crisis (John Menadue blog).
Siobhan Hegarty explores how online streaming is bringing comfort to faith communities during coronavirus social isolation (ABC).
That's it for another week!
We hope everyone is staying safe in these uncertain times.
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