Northern Rivers Greens candidates have attacked the NSW Bishops’ statement onThe Green Agenda distributed to Catholic parishes in the Diocese on the weekend of 12 – 13.
Bishop of the Diocese, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, has responded to that criticism in a statement released to the media today. The full text of that statement follows:
Bishops on ‘The Green Agenda’
Wednesday 23 March 2011
Our intention is not to tell anyone how to vote. Our job as pastors and teachers is to alert our people in regard to any proposed policy of any party, which we see as not in accord with Christian teaching or the values held by the Church and her members. The bishops have a responsibility to alert people to issues, which raise serious concerns for the protection of human rights and human dignity.
Many Catholics have asked the bishops for their opinion of the different parties and candidates, especially The Greens who are a relatively new phenomenon on the Australian scene.
The Greens promote some important issues, such as protecting the environment, and Catholics share the concern that more needs to be done in this area. Thirty years of traversing the skylines of the Tasmanian southwest wilderness and exploring its rivers and hidden lakes made me almost as green as Bob Brown. I’d be happy to support Simon Richardson in bringing the trains back on our tracks, since the first Bishop of Lismore was a key public figure in bringing the railway here at the beginning.
But The Greens have long since lost their innocence. Their policies on euthanasia, abortion, same-sex marriage and school funding show them on the dark side when it comes to a healthy and human environment.
If some Greens candidates consider themselves Christians I would wonder how they square the defined policies of their party with any reading of mainstream Christian belief on the meaning, dignity and destiny of human life.
I do not think that the bishops’ evaluation of The Greens agenda misrepresents the party’s stated policies. Local candidates branding our letter “misleading” is an understandable reaction to a sharp public spotlight being focussed on them at the moment.
The calculations of the NSW Catholic Schools Commission are pretty thorough in working out the exact threat posed to the funding of our schools by the cuts proposed by The Greens. Parents choosing to send their children to non-government schools are taxpayers too, and they are not going to pay twice in exercising their freedom of choice for their childrens’ education.
Most Revd Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore.