Thursday, July 29, 2010

Archbishop questions future under Gillard

Reasonably balanced comments from the Catholic Archbishop in Perth about Prime Minister Julia Gillard are being splashed across Australia's media as a damaging blow to her campaign.

One commentator said the Archbishop had 'pole-vaulted' to the centre of the election campaign with his concerns about Ms Gillard's atheism.

'While there is no indication that the present Prime Minister will undermine the special privileges that churches enjoy, some wonder what the future will bring. This may well influence their votes,' Archbishop Hickey  said, in a report from The West Australian.

'Many Christians are concerned that someone who does not believe in God may not endorse the Christian traditions of respect for human life, for the sanctity of marriage and the independence of Churches, church schools and church social welfare agencies.'

Archbishop Hickey said he would not seek to influence the way Catholics voted, he urged people with strong religious convictions to be politically active. 'Some will undoubtedly vote for Mr Abbott because they appreciate his strong Christian faith,' The West Australian reports.

Read the full story.

ACV Comment: This is hardly unexpected comment from the Catholic Church and seems to be more an acknowledgement that voters do consider beliefs and values alongside stated policies when considering how to vote. On the other hand, the Archbishop holds a position of influence and so any political reflection will be perceived as an attempt to sway voters and candidates.
While Julia Gillard has acknowledged her atheism, she also promised to engage in a proactive manner with Christians and churches. Opposition leader Tony Abbott, while a practicing Catholic, also told the Make it Count webcast that his faith would not influence his political life, in the sense that he would seek to govern for all Australians.

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