Weekend Wrap for 7 June 2020

The abortion issue has been thrust back onto the political agenda in Queensland. Discover what’s happening with that issue and many more of concern to secular-minded Aussies in this new edition of the Weekend Wrap.

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

In a statement on the ongoing street protests in the US, Archbishop Glenn Davies has described Australia’s racial tensions and inequalities as “just as serious”, with the country having a “shameful history” of police behaviour toward Indigenous people (Sydney Anglicans).

A French media outlet has published a report, which was being kept secret, into the governance of the Catholic Church in Australia, revealing recommendations including the need to accelerate the appointment of women to leadership positions and for independent experts to review instances of alleged abuse (NCR).

The Australian Catholics Bishops Conference, which commissioned the report into church governance, has said the leaked version was not the final document and “corrections and clarifications” were still required (Catholic Weekly).

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has begun court proceedings against a “healing church” that promoted a solution containing industrial bleach as a cure for COVID-19 (The Guardian).

Around the Country

QLD: The Liberal-National Party has vowed to review aspects of the state’s recently introduced abortion decriminalisation laws, including gestation limits and counselling arrangements, if it wins government later this year (Brisbane Times).

QLD: Jackie Trad, who was instrumental in having abortion removed from the state’s criminal code, has branded the opposition’s policy as a backward step that would disproportionally affect women from disadvantaged and abusive backgrounds (Brisbane Times).

QLD: The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Liberal-National Party’s announcement to review aspects of the states abortion laws which it claims “railroads” women “on a one-way fast-track to abortion” (ACL).

WA: The Australian Christian Lobby has accused an abortion clinic of spreading fake news after suggesting that prayer groups have been harassing staff and clients (ACL).

TAS: Independent member of parliament Mike Gaffney has released a final draft of his voluntary assisted dying legislation for public consultation, having made changes to the earlier draft to better reflect “the views and needs of Tasmanians" (The Advocate).

QLD: A Labor backbencher who chaired the inquiry into voluntary assisted dying says he is looking forward to the issue returning to parliament next year as there is important work “that we need to finish” (Courier Mail, paywalled).

VIC: The former principal who intends to sue the Catholic Church for allegedly “silencing” him and ending his teaching career after he raised concerns about a pedophile priest says the church’s offer of compensation has been inadequate (ABC).

ACT: The government has apologised to the leader of Canberra’s Catholic community for failing to respond to a request for social distancing rules to be eased to allow up to 50 worshipers to attend mass (Canberra Times).

Commentary and Analysis

As the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the Morrison government to re-order its priorities, the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill appears to have hit a dead end, writes Michelle Grattan (The Conversation).

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Kieren Jackson writes that the Eden-Monaro by-election is critical for ensuring the Morrison government’s religious freedom agenda, as a Liberal victory will provide more certainly for the legislation’s passage through the parliament (ACL).

Concerned about the risk of causing second-wave COVID-19 infections, Reverend Bruce Kaye warns churches about rushing to open their doors and suggests they be patient (ABC).

If the Catholic Church were to implement the bulk of the recommendations outlined in its governance report, it could mark the beginning of a genuine renewal of Catholicism in Australia and contribute to translating into reality Pope Francis’ soaring rhetoric about a synodal church, writes Richard R. Gaillardetz (Catholic Outlook).

Philippa Martyr writes that the report into governance of the Catholic Church in Australia is a mix of reasonable proposals and “requests which verge on the delusional” (Catholic Weekly).

Uniting Church Reverend David Baker argues that legalising voluntary assisted dying risks changing society’s view of the value of human life and devaluing the lives of elderly people or people who are mentally ill.

While progress has been made on decriminalising abortion in across Australia, women still face significant difficulties in accessing providers, writes Gina Rushton (Crikey).

That's it for another week!

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