AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER – AUSTRALIAN NEWS 6th NOVEMBER 2013

  • MALCOLM TURNBULL CALLS FOR CONSCIENCE VOTE ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE
  • CATHOLICS TO HAVE THEIR SAY ON CHURCH TEACHING ON MAJOR MORAL ISSUES
  • SCHOOL CHAPLAINCY AGAIN UNDER LEGAL THREAT
     

MALCOLM TURNBULL CALLS FOR CONSCIENCE VOTE ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE

Minister for communications Malcolm Turnbull has called for a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, admitting that the matter is ”very likely” to come before Federal Parliament this term. The call, which highlights the differences between  Mr Turnbull and his boss, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, came as the Greens prepare to reintroduce a previously unsuccessful private member’s bill. The Greens hope to bring on a debate before the end of the year and to take the bill to a final vote by Valentine’s Day next February. However, it remains unclear if the recently elected government will allocate sufficient time for private member’s bills in the parliamentary schedule. 

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she was working with sympathetic MPs from the two main parties and hoped to have a jointly sponsored bill initiated in the Senate, where its chances were best.  Mr Turnbull predicted the Liberal Party would be inclined to drop its previous approach of binding its frontbench in favour of allowing all MPs, including cabinet members, to vote in the Parliament, each according to their conscience. Despite a late switch in favour of legalising same-sex marriage by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, before the election Mr Abbott would go only as far as allowing his party room to decide the procedural question. 

Like many Christian MPs on both sides of politics, Mr Abbott remains personally opposed, even though his sister, Christine Forster, is eager for law reform to allow her to marry. The prospect of a free vote has raised such hopes but Mr Turnbull cautioned it was no guarantee of success, suggesting that even if Liberals had voted freely when the matter last came up there may have been too few Labor and Coalition MPs for a majority, especially in the lower house. ”But my view, as you know, is that we should have a free vote, and if we do agree to have a free vote, I will vote in favour of same-sex marriage,” he said.  

Several Liberals contacted backed the move even if, in some cases, they were not inclined to support change to the Commonwealth Marriage Act.  Others were more circumspect, with Sydney MP Paul Fletcher responding that he would first want to see details of the proposed bill and then would seek the views of his Bradfield constituents.  Among those thought to favour a free vote, despite backing the current definition of marriage, is Treasurer Joe Hockey. Mr Hockey has made his opposition known, arguing that it is in the best interests of children to be raised by a mother and a father. 

Another Liberal, Josh Frydenberg, said marriage was the kind of matter on which people should be given free expression. ”While I support the status quo, I also support a conscience vote, acknowledging the passionate views on this issue by those for and against,” he said. Senator Hanson-Young said the best hope for change was through broad cross-party support.  She said she had spoken in recent weeks with Liberal and Labor MPs but declined to ”drop names” because it was up to them to come forward if they so wished. A bill to establish equality was rejected in September 2012 by a decisive 42-to-98 margin in the House of Representatives, but the vote was much closer in the Senate.

In the meantime the High Court has announced that it will hear the case brought before it by the Federal Government to disallow the recently enacted same-sex marriage legislation in the Australian Capital Territory on the 3rd and 4th December. Please pray that this court challenge will be successful in stopping attempts to bring in same-sex marriage through individual State and Territory legislation.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

 

CATHOLICS TO HAVE THEIR SAY ON CHURCH TEACHING ON MAJOR MORAL ISSUES

Catholics are being asked to give their opinions on church teaching in relation to contraception, same-sex marriage and adoption, divorce, and young people living together before marriage. The worldwide survey has been distributed from the Vatican to national bishops’ conferences as a lead in to a synod announced by Pope Francis on pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation. The synod will be held in October next year. The questionnaire has been sent to all Australian bishops, who will disseminate it. The survey is already online on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. 

It asks for the opinion of Catholic Parishioners on such matters as how the Church should pastorally care for people of the same sex who have adopted children and how to pastorally deal with the issue of separated/divorced and remarried couples within the Church. The survey asks “In the above cases, how do the baptised live in these irregular situations?  Are they simply indifferent or do they feel marginalised or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments? How the survey will impact on the forward teaching of the Church or attitudes on moral issues is not clear but it is designed to let Catholics worldwide know that the Church is listening. 

In Rome recently, Australia’s Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’s eight hand-picked advisers and a member of the Synod of Bishops, strongly defended the Pope in an interview with the Vatican Insider website. “Francis said he’s a loyal son of the church, and his record shows that,” Cardinal Pell said. “He’s very, very concerned for the day-to-day life of the people, and for those who are suffering, those not well off and those in difficult situations. He’s a completely faithful exponent of Christ’s teaching and the church’s tradition. “Cardinal Pell said “the Pope didn’t have a great deal to say but he is a very good listener. He asked people to speak freely, he wanted us to speak our mind

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

 

SCHOOL CHAPLAINCY AGAIN UNDER LEGAL THREAT

Scripture Union Queensland (SU QLD) has again been called to appear before the High Court to defend the national school chaplaincy program.  This is the second attempt by a Toowoomba man to prevent funding for the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program (NSCSWP). SU QLD first appeared in the High Court two years ago when the same man claimed the chaplaincy program violated religious freedom under the Constitution. At that time the High Court found it did not violate religious freedom. However, the court did find that funding for the school chaplaincy program – was invalid as it exceeds the funding authority of the Commonwealth Government.
 
In June last year the government passed ‘emergency legislation’ to protect the program . The second court challenge contests this new legislation. During the first High Court challenge, 85,000 Australians showed their support for national school chaplaincy by signing a statement of support. SU QLD is asking Australians to once again show their support by visiting http://www.backourchappies.com.au/to sign their name in favour of federal funding for school chaplaincy’. The organisation hopes to present over 100,000 signatures to key members of parliament to show that school chaplaincy is important to thousands of families.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby