National and World Briefs
AUSTRALIA celebrates the tenth anniversary of the canonisation of St. Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) this year. The first Australian saint, Mary was known for encapsulating the values and spirit of Australians in her maxim: “Never see a need without doing something about it.” In Rome, an event co-hosted by the Australian and U.K Embassies to the Holy See, remembered St. Mary earlier this week.
CARDINAL Pell’s Prison Journal, Vol. 1 has been published this week, just seven months after the High Court’s unanimous 7:0 decision to throw out his conviction on abuse charges. The Journal records the thoughts, prayers and inner life of the innocent Cardinal as he begins what in the end were to be over 400 days in solitary confinement. Two more volumes of the Journal are to be released next year.
THE Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has united with two other Catholic entities to launch Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited (ACSL), a company tasked with safeguarding children against sexual abuse. Br. Peter Carroll of Catholic Religious Australia says the new agency “will make the Church’s work more coordinated, accountable and best prepared to ensure the safety of people in Catholic settings.”
Catholic News Agency
POPE Francis has proclaimed 2021 will be “The Year of St Joseph” in his latest apostolic letter. The announcement came on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which marked 150 years since Pope Pius IX declared St Joseph the universal Church’s patron. Pope Francis said Christians could discover in St Joseph “an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”
MELBOURNE Archbishop Peter Comensoli has warned against an extreme draft law to ban gay conversion practices in Victoria. The archbishop said the bill could limit Victorians’ ability “to express a view, share their faith, or talk about biblical teaching without fear of state interference” and has called for public discussion on these issues before the bill is advanced through parliament.
Archbishop Commensoli’s concerns about Victoria’s proposed bill to outlaw gay conversion practices may be well placed. Since freedom is an essential prerequisite if moral choices are to have value, coercion regarding a particular issue negates the possibility that a person can make a valid moral decision about it. The Church rightly opposes coercive practices partly for this fundamental reason. However, Victoria’s proposed Bill seeks to restrict freedom of expression in many areas in its aim to protect some from coercion – a very dubious (and foolish) solution!