REPORTS that New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean will support ‘voluntary assisted dying’ cast light on a shameful reality: euthanasia in Australia – and all of the crimes against humanity it will inevitably normalise – have been enacted into law largely thanks to alumni of Catholic schools. For several decades of the twentieth century, it was the dream of the bishops and old teaching orders to lift working class Catholics out of poverty. The destination: the professions and upper echelons of Australian society. They did so brilliantly. When Robert Menzies decided non-government schools would receive state funding in 1964, the dream became an institutional mainstay. Daniel Andrews: Marist Brothers, Wangaratta. Annastacia Palaszczuk: Sisters of Mercy, Ipswich. Mr Kean: Jesuits, Riverview. These are just a few of the stars who rose.
The Archbishop’s unseemly conversion
At times like this, Christians whose shepherds are not karaoke evangelists rocking out to the gospel of prosperity look to the consecrated for hope; sadly, Catholics have been gifted little of it from the hierarchy. When Archbishop Mark Coleridge announced last week that every employee of Brisbane archdiocese, clerical and lay, must prove vaccination or be sacked, he acknowledged the decree was drawn up “to conform with Queensland Health regulations.” The regulations, in turn, were drawn up to exploit the triumph of Leviticus in the Courier Mail survey, below. Christians may be obliged to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but they don’t have to hand over their lollipop ladies.
This oddly ruthless figure was different to a former rhapsodist of subsidiarity: “I think we do need a less hierarchical, dare I say, less monarchical kind of governance,” Dr Coleridge told The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb earlier this year. The customary hankering for devolution was for the benefit of the Plenary Council – the Archbishop’s own brainchild – which is a wish-list jamboree mostly for women of a certain age who can always be relied upon to telegraph their unsuitability for power in the Church by stridently demanding it. In September, the Australian Catholic Medical Association appealed to the nation’s leaders to protect, and not discriminate against, health-care workers with a conscientious objection to vaccination.
Here, then, was a less monarchical kind of authority – offered by laymen and women. Two months on, Archbishop Coleridge – who is also Metropolitan of Queensland and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference – scorned their good advice to placate the state. While his detestation of VAD is not in doubt, the Archbishop’s theological consistency on mandates certainly is. During the late phase of Queensland’s euthanasia ‘consultation,’ he requested a “blanket conscientious objection” clause in the draft bill. Now he apes Premier Palaszczuk by refusing the faithful so much as a tatty old throw from St Vinnies: “I will not consider conscientious objection to receiving the vaccination as a valid exception…” While expediency is forgivable in modern bishops – more Janus than Judas, they – contempt for conscience and cruelty to breadwinners sail closer to the reef of profanity than any Christian helmsman ever should.