The bishops of New South Wales have issued a statement advocating close scrutiny and criticism of the Greens, saying the party's policies are "of grave concern".
The statement was issued as a response to "many Catholics" who have "asked our opinion of the different parties and candidates, especially the Greens". It examines the Greens' policy positions "that give rise to grave concern".
These include a commitment to removing "exemption provisions" from the Anti Discrimination Act, on reducing state grants to non-government schools, on homosexual marriage, on abortion and on euthanasia.
The statement says the party will not win government in NSW, but could nevertheless "exercise significant power over governments, even with only a few seats", based on experience federally and in other states.
"Not everything the Greens are promoting is bad public policy," the statement says. "Protecting the environment, for example, is an important responsibility, and we share the widespread concern that more needs to be done to achieve this."
"But concern for the environment does not mean that all Greens policies are acceptable."
"The full offering of the party has to be taken into account."
"The Greens' position on a number of fundamental points of human and social policy areas conflicts
directly with the beliefs and values of virtually all religious people, and the beliefs of many other people as well.
"The conflicts are not superficial or inconsequential. They go to fundamental issues such as respect for all human life from conception to natural death. They attack religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
"Greens who are elected will bring a whole set of policies. You cannot pick and choose. They are not only concerned for the environment.
And the statement adds: "Every vote in this election counts."
The document was signed by 10 NSW bishops including the Sydney Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell. The Bishop of Bathurst, Michael McKenna, and the Bishop of Broken Bay, David Walker, did not sign the statement, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Greens told the Herald that the document was at times ''profoundly misleading''.
''The bishops have misrepresented both our polices and the facts in order to attack the Greens,'' the MP John Kaye said.
FULL STATEMENT AND STORY
The Green Agenda - A message from the Catholic Bishops of New South Wales (Media Release)
Don't vote Greens, say Catholic bishops (Sydney Morning Herald)