Monica Doumit: The plan to crush freedom of faith in the ACT

Is this really happening in Australia ...? The ACT is set to crush the rights of churches in ways not seen since Christians lived under eastern European totalitarian regimes. And it’s all being done in the name of ‘human rights’ and diversity.

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The ACT Government is now claiming authority when it comes to deciding who is admitted to Holy Orders. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
The ACT Government is now claiming authority when it comes to deciding who is admitted to Holy Orders. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

You may have read recently that San Francisco’s Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone has prohibited the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, from receiving Holy Communion until she repents of and publicly retracts her pro-abortion stance.

If that situation was replicated here, those politicians in our nation’s capital might soon be able to sue for discrimination.

The ACT Government is about to amend its anti-discrimination laws to allow overreach so extreme that it would even purport to dictate the Church’s sacramental life.

While it will still magnanimously allow the Catholic Church to insist that only men are ordained to the priesthood, that’s about where it stops.

Take the ACT Government’s very first example from the fact sheet:

“Under the proposed reform, the Catholic Church will still be able to require that priests be male in line with their doctrines, but cannot discriminate on irrelevant grounds such as race or disability.”

“THE ACT GOVERNMENT IS NOW CLAIMING AUTHORITY WHEN IT COMES TO DECIDING WHO IS ADMITTED TO HOLY ORDERS”.

While the above statement might seem fairly innocuous, it is critical to note what is actually happening here. The ACT Government is now claiming authority when it comes to deciding who is admitted to Holy Orders.

What other grounds might Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his cronies deem to be “irrelevant”? Relationship status? Homosexuality? Gender identity?

For anything outside of the priesthood, the Church will be required to demonstrate that any “discrimination” it seeks to undertake is “reasonable, proportionate and justifiable.”

Take the very next example in the ACT Government fact sheet.

“Under the proposed amendment, a religious body … excluding a same-sex couple from worship services would have to consider the human rights of the couple and demonstrate that the discrimination was reasonable, proportionate and justifiable.

“What constitutes reasonable, proportionate and justifiable would depend on the circumstances of each matter.”

A marked version of the Holy Bible.
Even in religious education, health and social welfare services, the ACT Government believes that only pastoral carers should be required to be of the same faith as the organisation.

Churches, while open, are still private property. The Church is a legitimate association entitled to organise its own life. But now the ACT Government has taken upon itself the task of regulating our liturgical life.

While I can’t imagine anyone ever excluding even an openly gay couple from Mass, what about if that same couple ask to serve as acolytes?

Their priest would not treat them any differently as parishioners, but may think it imprudent to place them in a public ministry. Under the proposed ACT law, they would be able to sue under anti-discrimination law.

How about the handful of parishes that still prefer to limit altar serving to boys, because they see it as a way of attracting vocations to the priesthood?

Or what about if the Plenary Council’s proposal for lay preaching gets approval, but there are still parishes who insist that it is the priest who delivers the homily?

In each case, the Church would have to justify its stance before an ACT anti-discrimination tribunal. How open will they be to the Church’s arguments? I wouldn’t bet on those odds.
It’s not only sacraments and liturgy that the ACT Government wants to change, it’s also employment.

“churches, while open, are still private property. the church is a legitimate association entitled to organise its own life. but now the act government has taken upon itself the task of regulating our liturgical life”.

Religious organisations will no longer be able to preference staff of the same faith unless there is a genuine occupational requirement that they share the faith, and the organisation is able to demonstrate it is “reasonable, proportionate and justifiable” to do so.

The very next example used in the ACT Government fact sheet makes this clear:

“A Christian disability support service cannot preference staff based on their religion unless religious conviction is a genuine requirement of the role such as in the case of providing pastoral care.”

Even in religious education, health and social welfare services, the ACT Government believes that only pastoral carers should be required to be of the same faith as the organisation.

It will again be an anti-discrimination tribunal and not faith leaders deciding whether or not religious faith is relevant to a person’s role.

It is hardly surprising that the ACT Government have tabled this legislation less than a fortnight after the election of a federal Labor government. They’re obviously not concerned about any pushback from the Commonwealth.

Militant secularists insist on the separation of Church and State – yet these changes are a wrecking ball through whatever wall of separation still remains in Australia. Friends, please don’t underestimate the significance of this.