From Online Catholics Issue 20, 6 October 2004
One hundred Catholic priests, meeting at the biennial Conference of the National Council of Priests of Australia (at Toowoomba QLD 6th – 10th September 2004) added their voice to the 43 prominent Australians and the group of doctors calling for truth and integrity in public life.
The priests built upon the concerns raised by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference in August, when the ACBC advised Australians to consider their voting intentions in the light of the building of a ‘culture of care’.
The National Council of Priests questioned why Australia tolerates significant inequalities in health, unacceptable poverty and an increasing prison population.
"If we are to continue to call Australia home, a place of belonging, a place of welcome and a safe haven, we need to ask why these injustices continue unabated," the priests said in a statement.
While acknowledging the absence of Aboriginal Catholic Clergy as a specifically Catholic problem, the NCP spoke out strongly about the lack of inclusion of Aboriginal people in Australian society.
"We, the National Council of Priests, call on our leaders to work for a just and equitable Australia where from our first peoples in this land to our most recent arrivals and all in between all will call Australia home." The priests affirmed their commitment to multiculturalism and an inclusive approach in Australian life and society.
Many priests from all over Australia expressed concern that events in Redfern, Sydney, are damaging to the Church and have implications for Aboriginal people and their relationship with the Church. Redfern parish, which was led by the visionary Catholic priest Fr Ted Kennedy for 30 years, is now in the hands of clergy of the Neo Catechumenate Way.
The National Council of Priests also expressed criticism toward policies and candidates who supported the doctrine of a pre-emptive strike. They urged Australians to demand that any future decision to go to war be fully debated in Parliament before action was taken. The NCP called for every Australian elector to consider the following questions before casting their votes:
- Will the candidate support increased overseas economic aid from Australia to help rebuild Iraq and other countries in need?
- How might the candidate ensure that future decisions about war are fully debated in Parliament?
- Will the candidate reject the spreading of the doctrine of a pre-emptive strike, and commit to strengthening the system of international government?
The statement was signed by 100 priests present at the National Convention of the NCP and included:
Fr Peter Brady (Loganholme)
Fr Henry Byrne (Mossy Point)
Fr Dennis Carroll (Lismore)
Fr Michael Cooney (Goondiwindi)
Fr Tyson Doneley (Toowoomba)
Fr Peter Dorfield (Toowoomba)
Fr Paul Finucane (Hornsby)
Fr Francis Gilbert (Nth Rockhampton)
Fr Paul Hanna (Blackheath)
Fr Terry Hicklng (Crows Nest)
Fr Timothy Hogan (Toongabbie)
Fr Robert Hollow (Blackall)
Fr Gerald Iverson (Wentworthville)
Fr John MacGinley (Tara)
Fr Rod MacGinley (Pittsworth)
Fr John Maher (Roma)
Fr Frank Marriott (Wodonga)
Fr Peter Matheson (Montmorency)
Fr Martin Maunsell (Lane Cove)
Fr Paul McCabe (Moree)
Fr Peter McCarthy (Capalaba)
Fr Ian McGinnity (Quakers Hill)
Fr William Moore (Toongabbie)
Fr Don Murray (Allora)
Bishop Patrick Power (Canberra)
Fr Hal Ranger (Dalby)
Fr John Scarrott (Moorooka)
Fr Jeff Scully (Quilpie)
Fr John Swan (Kensington Gardens)
Fr Paul Tarpey (Boorowa)
Fr Bernie Thomas (Mulwala)
Fr Greg Trythall (Grovedale)
Fr Lino Valente (Inglewood)
Fr John Cunningham (Ivanhoe)