Fr Marcus Goulding: Premier ‘I’ for Inconsistent

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The rationale for discriminating against Victorian churches makes no logical sense, writes Fr Marcus Goulding. Photo: Kate Trifo/Unsplash
The rationale for discriminating against Victorian churches makes no logical sense, writes Fr Marcus Goulding. Photo: Kate Trifo/Unsplash

Victorian churches are being unjustly discriminated against by our government’s ‘Roadmap’ out of lockdown.

Whilst restaurants can have 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors, churches are inexplicably restricted to non-ceremonial outdoor gatherings of 10 people.

Premier Daniel Andrews explained on Monday that the ‘reason’ churches are not able to open in the same way as restaurants is because churches ‘are not licensed or formally registered like restaurants’.

This has nothing to do with the best scientific health advice and is an egregious affront to people of faith.

I know people have mixed feelings about clergy commenting on political matters, but I will not be silent about the spiritual, emotional and psychological anguish being inflicted upon us and which I am seeing my people suffer first-hand.

The Church is interested not in partisan commentary but in advancing and defending the truth of the Gospel.

That mission includes advancing and defending all that is genuinely human and staunchly opposing and decrying every threat to the human person.

Victoria’s social and political response to COVID – a virus that is undoubtedly real and requires proportionate risk management – has come at a great cost, a cost that history cautions us against paying.

Our inalienable dignity and rights, together with our cultural values, are only worth as much as we are prepared to sacrifice in their defence.

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

We have jettisoned our most fundamental freedoms – of employment, education, association, movement, speech, protest, worship – out of sheer fear of the possibility of death and loss of physical health, the one inevitable certain reality we all face.

We watch with listless apathy as our civic leaders abandon the centuries-old and hard-fought-for institution which was established as a check on executive over-reach, namely, the parliament.

Our social and cultural response to this pandemic will stand as a shameful lesson to our children for centuries to come.

Victorians will be remembered with ignominy as those whose fear of losing the pleasures and security of earthly life was so obsessively irrational that they were ready and willing to sacrifice everything with even a hint of lasting value.

The Church, her clergy, and all her faithful have a duty before God to hold our civic leaders to account for every unnecessary and incautious threat to our freedoms.

Christ chooses us for our times and our sanctification lies, in part, in rising to the challenges of those times.

He alone makes life worth living.

The inequitable and unjust discrimination against Victoria’s churches and people of faith must end.