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Separation of Church and State?

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 Contents - Jul 2004AD2000 July 2004 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Separation of Church and State? - Michael Gilchrist
Liturgy: New improved English Mass translation nears completion - Michael Gilchhrist
Feminist 'rituals': no substitute for prayer - Joanna Bogle
News: The Church Around the World
Pastoral Letter: The secular challenges to our faith: how to respond - Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett
Eucharistic Adoration: heart of evangelisation - Fr Sebastian Camilleri OFM
Croagh Patrick, Ireland's Holy Mountain: 'Sure, it's a bit of a hill' - Paul Russell
Letters: Synod (letter) - Lance Eccles
Letters: Courageous lead (letter) - Tom King
Letters: Ineffective system (letter) - John Mulholland
Letters: Catholic schools (letter) - George Simpson
Letters: Dating the Gospels (letter) - Fr G.H. Duggan SM
Letters: Informative talk (letter) - Frank Bourke
Letters: Gay lobby (letter) - Alan A. Hoysted
Letters: Abusive letters - Maureen Federico
Letters: Christian models (letter) - Brett Powell
Letters: Christians the most vilified group (letter) - Arnold Jago
Letters: Disappointment (letter) - Cathy Cleary
Letters: The Passion of the Christ (letter) - June Forester
Letters: Parish concerns (letter) - Peter Gilet
Letters: No kneelers (letter)
Letters: The power of one (letter) - Brian Harris
Letters: Sacred Heart (letter) - V. Mulligan
Letters: CD response (letter) - Melanie and Christopher Duluk
Books: Flee To the Fields - The Founding Papers of the Catholic Land Movement - Peter Chojnowski (reviewer)
Books: An Essay on the Restoration of Property, by Hilaire Belloc - John Ballantyne (reviewer)
Books: Ethics and the National Economy, by Heinrich Pesch - John Williamson (reviewer)
Redemptionis Sacramentum (Sacrament of Redemption) abridged version - Fr M. Durham
Books: More new titles for 2004 from AD Books
Reflection: No time to pray? Try contemplation - Fr Leo J. Trese

A recent front page story in The Australian (10 June 2004), headed "Premier demands archbishop resign", raises important questions about the role of religion in Australia. The South Australian Premier, it was reported, had just called for the "immediate resignation" of Dr Ian George, the Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide over alleged mishandling of child sexual abuse claims.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of Dr George's situation, it was ultimately up to his Church to resolve the matter - as it did in the end. But the episode underlines the double standard currently operating: governments and media can tell the churches what to do or not to do; but Christians and church leaders who speak out on moral questions (such as abortion or euthanasia) are subject to fierce attack.

As Bishop Jarrett points out in his article (pages 8-9), "keeping God out of the discussion in the public square, as if He did not exist, has become the default position. Practical atheism ... has now become an official 'religion'."

Tony Abbott's passing and restrained mention of his concern about abortion drew the ire of upholders of the secular "religion", as did John Howard's support of legislation before Parliament to bar "gay marriages". Both were targeted as unwarranted Christian intrusions into the affairs of State.

One can now risk prosecution in a range of categories outlawing discrimination, e.g., on the grounds of race, gender and religion; but the one exception is Christianity, now seen as a soft target. Anti-Christian ridicule and blasphemy can be served up via the arts and media without fear of retribution.

Today, there is an attitude of "heads I win, tails you lose" as to the roles of Church and State in Australia. While Christians and their leaders are told to keep their moral opinions out of the public square, governments and media don't hesitate to direct churches how to run their affairs.

At the same time, our secular elites are not slow to select appropriate targets for moral outrage.

It is more than time for Christians to stand up against the bullies.

Michael Gilchrist, Editor (E-mail:; website:

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 6 (July 2004), p. 2

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