Pell blesses Labor education policy

Cardinal George Pell has backed the Opposition's new school policy - a complete reversal of the Catholic Church's dramatic intervention in the 2004 election campaign of Labor's "divisive" policy of stripping funding from rich private schools.

Pell has also endorsed both Mr Rudd and John Howard as "serious Christians" but noted their parties had adopted such similar policies that they were "scarcely distinguishable".

In an interview with The Australian, Cardinal Pell conceded his endorsement was a shift from his position at the last election, during which he attacked the
schools policy put forward by then Labor leader Mark Latham.

"I think the policy at that stage was calculated to divide the non-government sector and to divide the rich against the poor and possibly the Catholics against the non-Catholics," Pell said.

"That would have been most unfortunate. I'm happy to endorse the new policy."

"We had a slab of schools where there would have been problems. I've been public and on the record acknowledging we don't have as many poor Catholics in our schools as I would like."

Cardinal Pell's intervention coincided with confirmation on Wednesday that the Labor Party no longer believed any needs-based funding model in the future must include reference to private schools' fees and income when determining taxpayer-funding.

The Australian also reported that at the National Press Club, Cardinal Pell also touched on the controversy surrounding Labor's death penalty policy, saying he thought Mr Rudd would not lose votes on the issue.

He also reiterated that the Catholic Church was opposed to capital punishment.

"I don't anticipate that Kevin Rudd's change in position will have many consequences one way or the other for Christian or Catholic votes.

"I suspect, and I might be wrong, that there is clear majority approval in Australia for capital punishment in certain circumstances.

"It is one of those issues where public opinion is quite at variance with elite opinion," he said

Cardinal Pell also says he regrets the Federal Government's decision to cut the African refugee intake this year, but he understands there has to be limits.

He says there is no doubt there is suffering in Africa, but Australia can only do so much.

"I regret that the quota's been lowered, but I would also concede that this was a complicated and difficult question where you could judge the balance differently."

Pill "evil"

Archbishop of Sydney George Pell has stepped up his criticism of Catholics who support contraception, abortion and stem-cell research on the basis of their own moral conscience as proponents of a "Donald Duck heresy".

In a compilation of 10 short essays to be published this week, Cardinal Pell also warns that the pill has created a "contraceptive" mentality with "evil consequences" for the world, including a plummeting fertility rate in which many children will one day know no siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins, TheSydney Morning Heraldreported.

Pell said a new approach is needed to combat unacceptably high levels of abortion, including the possibility of television advertisements to encourage women to proceed with a pregnancy by framing it as a means of regaining control of their lives, rather than it ruining them.

Asked how he rated the Howard Government - at the National Press Club this week- on humanitarian issues such as the involvement in the Iraq invasion and treatment of asylum-seekers, he said both parties had policies that, from a Christian point of view, were imperfect.

"When a government has been in power for as many years as the Howard Government has, in order to survive it usually adopts a number of compromises.” Pell said.

"You would have to say the Howard Government has done that. I did not support the invasion of Iraq."

He also said the Howard Government's policy on refugees was too tough.

"But having said that, there have been many worse governments in Australian history."

Cardinal Pell also disclosed that the church would contribute $15 million to $20 million of the $100 million-plus costs of World Youth Day in Sydney next July.

God and Caesar is the first academic title written by Cardinal Pell, and it returns to his regular theme of rampant liberal secularism and warns that anti-life attitudes are infiltrating the church, a traditional champion of pro-life causes.

Referring to the work of the English historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Cardinal Pell said he was concerned about the consequences of support for a Donald Duck heresy.

"Too many Donald Ducks produce the feel-good society which works to remove personal guilt, anything that would make people feel uncomfortable so that complacent self-satisfaction becomes a virtue; confession is replaced by therapy and self-reproach by self-discovery."

Labor receives Pell's blessing (The Australian, 11/10/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Kevin 07
Archdiocese of Sydney

Mixed reaction to Archbishops' statement on Labor education policy (CathNews, 29/9/04)
Howard praises Archbishops' intervention (CathNews, 19/10/04)
Pell says abolishing death penalty won't be easy(CathNews, 05/12/05)
Vatican urged to reopen debate on birth control CathNews, 17/02/06)
Pell ´quite sure´ door is shut to radical reform (CathNews, 5/04/05)
Pell push for ban on use of leftover embryos(CathNews, 11/02/05)

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