"Tell me, sir; when you hear the words 'Catholic Church', what immediately comes to mind?" "An abusive institution that opposes abortion, same-sex marriage ... and masturbation." We have a problem.
The catastrophic failure of pastoral leadership over many decades, along with the church's ongoing obsession with the "bedroom", has conspired to reduce the Catholic faith, in the eyes of many, to merely a series of "no's" over sexual and reproductive ethics — all the while promulgated by "a bunch of hypocrites who have covered-up sexual abuse of children".
Our credibility is all but shot. By leading the "no" campaign against same-sex marriage, we just manage to further erode the little pastoral credibility we have left.
Haven't we learnt anything from the recent Irish experience which was just as much a "no vote" against the institutional Church as a "yes" to marriage reform?
This is not to say the church must, therefore, pander to the whims of the marketplace. On the contrary, it has a duty to 'follow its informed conscience ... ever calling it to love ... and to pursue what it discerns to be good and just and truthful'.
Rather, this is about picking the right battles — and avoiding pyrrhic victories. Whatever the result of the postal survey, the Marriage Act is almost certain to be amended, if not this year, certainly in the next little while.
It's time to say, "We respectfully rest our case, your honour," and quietly leave it to the citizenry to make up its mind.
Ah, for a different exchange: "Tell me, sir; when you hear the words 'Catholic Church', what immediately comes to mind?" "A compassionate and humble institution animated by the love of God and the servant leadership of Jesus."
Fr Peter Day, Queanbeyan
Yes/No? I will decide
I found Keith Hill's suggestion that people who plan to vote "no" in the gay marriage survey (September 13) should abstain amusing. The "yes" vote will probably win anyway and all his suggestion would do, if adopted, is to reduce the credibility of the outcome. If I vote "yes", it will e.g. be because I know how much a certain gay friend of mine would like to marry her long-time partner but, if I vote "no", it will be because of people like Keith Hill trying to shut down opposition to the proposal and because our Andy thought he had the right to waste $22,000 of our money painting rainbows on our busses.
Stan Marks, Hawker
Bad way to campaign
My postal survey form on same-sex marriage has arrived. I'll be voting "yes" because, for me, that is the compassionate and equitable way to vote.
I also found in my letter box a totally anonymous "Vote No" flyer. It stated in part "When you vote no, your free speech won't go! If you vote yes, it'll make a big mess!".
I sincerely hope this is not the level of debate we can expect from the "No" campaign, and I sincerely hope it is not an indication of the readiness of some of its elements to campaign anonymously.
Peter Dark, Karabar, NSW
Personal info private
Re Nicholas Stuart's opinion piece ("We're losing control over our personal information", September 13, 16).
The ABS never has and never will sell personal information. The ABS is required by law (Census & Stats Act 1905 and Privacy Act 1988) to ensure the privacy and secrecy of personal information and this is our primary responsibility.
Data available from the ABS is de-identified and does not enable identification of personal information or individuals.
Within privacy and secrecy requirements, the ABS enables effective and safe use of the statistics and data that we produce, consistent with the Australian Government Public Data Policy Statement to deliver as much value as possible to the community from our public data. This is to support decision making, stimulate innovation, and enable better economic, social and environmental outcomes.
Most ABS data and statistics are available free on the ABS website and we encourage its use to create new insights and inform important decisions.
David Kalisch, Australian Statistician, Canberra
Rebel with a cause
Good on Rebel Wilson for saying she will use money from her defamation case for scholarships.
C. Davis, Melbourne, Vic.
Fuzzy logic alert
Re: Pathetic Attitude (Letters, September 14).
The logic of writers like Rosemary Walters escapes me.
In World War II, Australia was fighting on its own doorstep for survival. Churchill was willing to see Australia fall.
The Americans helped a great deal to save Australia but it was our own troops that stopped the Japanese in new Guinea.
The Greens are so bent by climate change, they want to shut down completely the coal industry (and presumably export of all hydro-carbons) — the major sources of national income — and their push for renewable energy has given Australia the world's highest energy prices that will swiftly destroy what manufacturing base we have left.
So, if energy exports cease, as the Greens would like, with an Australia completely dependent on imports of liquid fuels and no in-country manufacturing left (read no jobs), it has to be back to the farm, horse and buggy.
How crazy is that?
M. Flint, Erindale
Barnaby caught out
It was reported that Barnaby Joyce was left red-faced after attempting to steal a kiss from Fiona Nash.
As Barnaby often looks red faced, does this mean he has attempted to steal many kisses over the years?
John Milne, Chapman
Government's money trail shows where social priorities really lie
Three recent reports on canberratimes.com.au illustrate the true priorities of this putrid ACT Labor-Greens government.
- "ACT government spends almost $850,000 advertising Ginninderry development." (September 13)
- "No Office of Mental Health nearly one year on from ACT election". (September 12)
- "Conflict Resolution Service to halve output after ACT budget maintains funding" (September 12.)
As predicted before this year's ACT budget, the Conflict Resolution Service, which aims to keep vulnerable Canberrans out of the justice system, has to reduce its services after failing to secure extra government financial support.
This is despite having increased its output tenfold over the past 10 years with a corresponding measly 2.7 per cent financial increase from the government over the same time.
Community Services Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, who campaigned for election last year on a platform of supporting the Canberra community, now seems to have joined her developer-driven colleagues.
She is quoted as saying: "I congratulate Shawn van der Linden and the team at CRS for the work they have done over the last year to ensure CRS has a sustainable model going forward."
This "sustainable model" means at best people wait longer and at worst descend into protracted, irretrievable disputes which often result in violence and criminal charges.
Compare the trifling $120,000 sought by CRS with the almost $850,000 spent to advertise a residential development.
At least we know where this mob's priorities lie.
Graham Downie, O'Connor
Strictly speaking, Michael Warrington (Letters, September 12) is correct in pointing out that Australia's greenhouse emissions are relatively minuscule — about 1.8 per cent of the global total, or approximately 400 million tons per annum related to energy production.
We are, however one of the largest emitters on a per capita basis and to be a good global citizen we should show some leadership.
The obvious way to do that is to stop the Adani mine, which is set to produce 2.3 billion tons of low quality, high ash coal leading to 4.7 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions (according to Wikipedia).
Anybody with any brains knows that that will have a hugely deleterious effect on ocean acidification and global warming with all the disastrous ecological consequences that will follow.
Both of our major political parties have dirty hands and responsibility for the ridiculous increases in electricity charges in spite of our huge energy resources.
Labor allowed exports of gas without adequate domestic reservations and the Coalition, with its ideological fixation on abolition of the carbon tax, created a chaotic investment atmosphere whose chickens are now coming home to roost.
I think that it makes sense to keep our existing systems of power generation going until solar, wind and pumped hydro can take over.
Professor Blakeney of the ANU and his team have identified more than 10,000 sites suitable for pumped hydro so please, let's get on with it.
James Gralton, Garran
Bus cut just garbage
I was horrified to read the letter about the number 5 bus (Letters, September 12).
I have relatives who go to the Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre at least fortnightly and one of them generally uses a walker. By bypassing Kootara Crescent how are people going to get to the shops or the health centre?
From memory this would make Narrabundah shops the only local suburban shopping centre to not be on a bus route. I know that the head of Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre has been critical of the Government about issues that concern her but this change is going to impact on poor and disadvantaged people significantly.
I would like to know what the reasons are for this change because it is certainly a breach of Action's social contract with the community.
I think this proposed change is typical of this Government in recent years. No real community consultation and they just ignore concerns of local residents. They think they can get away with their sham consultation process and do want they want to anyway.
Another example of this is the recent significant increase in unit rates. The main thing that annoys me, is that a proportion of the rates is for garbage collection, which the Government does not provide for unit residents.
We have to pay for garbage collection in our corporate dues, paying twice.
John Gudgeon, Gungahlin
Two better than one
Top marks to ACT Transport for advising Narrabundah residents of changes to their bus service by placing notices and maps at bus stops.
But the cancellation of Route 5 will mean that to attend an outpatient appointment at The Canberra Hospital or go to Woden from October 9, one will need to take the Route 4 bus which will run along Kootara Crescent and then change to the Route 6 bus in Goyder Street.
I am in awe of the route planner who thought that to reach the same destination, catching two buses would be better than catching one.
Valerie Baxter, Narrabundah
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and others in the Turnbull Government were quick and brutal in their condemnation of ACTU boss Sally McManus when she supported workers who break unjust laws.
At the same time, Ms Cash was aware of credible and easily verifiable allegations that ABCC boss Nigel Hadgkiss had broken the law by breaching the very Act that he was charged with administering.
She condoned his breach of the law with her silence and inaction, then praised him for "restoring the rule of law" when he was caught out and resigned his post.
The Employment Minister and the government she serves have lost all credibility on industrial relations.
Mr Hadgkiss is not the only person who should have resigned.
Tony Judge, Woolgoolga, NSW
TO THE POINT
BORDER NEEDS TWEAK
Buddhist Myanmar has a million Muslim Rohingya living along its border with Muslim Bangladesh. This suggests the border was drawn in the wrong place. Why doesn't Myanmar enter into negotiations with Bangladesh to move the border?
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
SPOILING A FRIENDSHIP
It is said that marriage is the way to spoil a good friendship. This is supported by divorce statistics. Why gays want to bother making a fussabout getting married is beyond me.
R. Smith, Scullin
NONE OF OUR BUSINESS
Thank you M. Moore of Bonython (Letters, September 14). I totally agree same sex-marriage thing is no one's business bar the couple involved.
J. McGhee, Bonython
NOT SAVING THE PLANET
There are currently about 120 coal-fired power plants under construction in south-east Asia alone. So much for caring about climate change and saving the planet.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic
SURVEY SPEEDS IN
I have no issues with Australia Post's service standards. The ABS' Australian marriage law postal survey arrived on Wednesday the 13th, just one day after being posted.
Don Sephton, Greenway
By being "technology agnostic" the government means it is not concerned about cost or reliability, and certainly not emissions. It will support any technology provided it uses coal.
Paul Pentony, Hackett
Malcolm Turnbull's coal-powered submarines will never get off the ground; Barnaby Joyce will insist they be based in Armidale.
C. J. Mountifield, Greenway
FOLLOWING THE LEADER
As Tony Abbott professes to be a Catholic, I trust he will heed the Pope's call for action on climate change.
Felicity Chivas, Scullin
I agree with Bruce MacLeod on NASA's unprovoked assault on Saturn. These things rarely end well, just ask H. G. Wells.
D. Gentle, Belconnen
David Pope has been kicking even more goals than normal lately.
His tribute to Hollywood's "prison break" genre on Thursday was excellent.
A. Mills, Tuggeranong
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