Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fuck off Pell - Go to hell!

June 7, 2007: It is against the law to coerce a member of parliament! Sydney's Catholic Archbishop George Pell is under attack after interferring in a New South Wales parliamentary vote. He's also been likened to outspoken Mufti, Sheikh Taj El Din Al Hilali. Cardinal Pell warned MPs that if they voted to allow therapeutic cloning there would be consequences for their life in the Church...

Cardinal Pell has urged all members of the NSW parliament to vote against the bill that would scrap the current ban on stem cell research, also known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown is warning Archbishop Pell against threatening federal members of parliament.

"Cardinal Pell's threats that there would be religious 'consequences' for Catholic MPs who voted for the stem cell legislation are completely unacceptable," Senator Brown said.

"Attempting to coerce Catholic members of the NSW state parliament is a serious matter. Cardinal Pell should understand that it could be a criminal matter if similar remarks were used to coerce federal politicians," said Senator Brown.

The Criminal Code Act 1995 provides a penalty of up to 12 years imprisonment for threatening commonwealth public officials and for both the giver and receiver of inducements for commonwealth public officials (including federal politicians) to change their behaviour.

"I urge Cardinal Pell to refrain from bullying Catholic MPs with religious 'consequences' when the Senate votes on my voluntary euthanasia bill, or any other matter of conscience," Senator Brown said.

NSW Shadow Health Minister Jillian Skinner feels very strongly about the importance of separation of Church and State. She says Members of Parliament should be able to make up their mind according to their conscience. Liberal Frontbencher Chris Hartcher says the Cardinal's comments are unambiguous and he's critical of practising Catholics dipping in and out of the Church.

Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees today called Cardinal Pell a hypocrite, saying a politician would not interfere with the teachings of the church in exchange for funding. He said the cardinal was out of step and owed Catholic MPs an apology. Mr Rees says he considers Cardinal Pell's incursion a "clear and arguably contemptuous incursion into the deliberations of the elected members of this Parliament. And I think he's got three options; he can apologise, he can run for Parliament; or he can invite further comparisons with that serial boofhead Sheikh Hilali," said Mr Rees.

Sheik Alhilali's friend and confidant Keysar Trad said it was a "disgrace" the mufti had been dragged into the debate on stem cell research. The mufti was shocked at the insult and thought it showed great disrespect to Mr Rees' electorate of Toongabbie, he said. "Muslims are sick of being used as an example of ridicule. It is shameful," he said.

"I would like to see the premier show leadership on this issue and come out strongly condemning these remarks and to discipline this person. If he's (Rees) big enough then I would expect to see him at the mufti's office delivering an apology in person over the next few days."

"Oddly enough, if he was to research the mufti's opinion on this issue, he might be pleasantly surprised," Mr Trad said. "His fatwa (ruling) on this is that if it is for scientific research and does not risk the life of another human being and does not harm another living thing then it's fine."

George Pell's suggestion to in some way exclude Catholic politicians who vote for the legislation is nothing short of reprehensible, says Dom Knight. "It is fundamentally undemocratic for elected representatives to make judgements of this nature on the basis of their individual religious beliefs, rather than the position of the voters that elected them and the broader society that they represent," said Mr Knoght on his SMH blog. "If he wants to live in a state that's run according to his church's principles, I would strongly encourage him to move to the Vatican City."

NSW Labor MP Tony Stewart said he would risk his shot at the afterlife before he voted against the Bill. "Maybe I'll go to hell but if I go to hell I'm going to do so by saving a lot of lives, because that's what this Bill is about," the Catholic MP said. Mr Stewart said Cardinal Pell was entitled to his views but should keep out of politics saying the bill will make a difference to people with life-threatening diseases. "We don't need a religious leader telling members of parliament what should be done," he said.

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey also object to the Cardinal's threat. Mr Hockey, also a Catholic, said Cardinal Pell should use his position to educate Catholics, not threaten them. "I don't object to him expressing that opinion, but I do object to any suggestion that there are consequences," Mr Hockey said.

The Bill would bring NSW into line with the Commonwealth, which has already approved therapeutic cloning. The bill is currently being debated in the Legislative Assembly, with a conscience vote now expected later this week.

Cardinal Pell refused to say whether Catholic MPs would be excommunicated from the church if they voted in favour of the legislation. The church would deal with that issue if it arose, he said.

"Cloning is not quite the same as abortion and the legislation for such a thing as cloning is different from actually performing cloning," Cardinal Pell told reporters. "But it is a serious moral matter and Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church." Cardinal Pell said the legislation had been rushed into parliament, with the public and MPs given little or no information about the issue.

Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey also came under fire after saying Catholics who did not condemn the cloning of human embryos for medical research were acting against the teachings of the Catholic faith and may face excommunication.

Prime Minister John Howard says he did not believe either man was trying to direct MPs on political matters. "I think that Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hickey are both church leaders, they are entitled to express their views and I respect both of them."


UPDATE: The Stem cell research legislation passed its first stages in NSW Parliament with MPs exercising their conscience vote this morning. On Thurday the MPs voted 65 to 26 for the Bill to overturn a ban on therapeutic cloning.
The Bill is not expected to be finally passed until the next sitting of Parliament in a week’s time.


Village Voice
News Limited
The Age
The Australian
Herald Sun
Sunday Times
Dom Knight

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