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July 2019

EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE NOW LEGAL IN VICTORIA

By Australian Newsletter

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act has come into effect after a marathon parliamentary battle and 18 months of meticulous planning by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.  Under the act, terminally ill patients who meet the eligibility criteria will be permitted to access a lethal substance that will allow them to end their lives.  Where patients are unable to self-administer the medication, the substance may be administered by an authorised medical professional.  The law is designed for patients experiencing unbearable pain and suffering at the end of life.  It will give terminally ill patients the choice of ending their lives rather than suffering.

Yet the statistics from overseas jurisdictions tell a more nuanced story. Requests for euthanasia typically come from white patients who want to maintain a sense of control at the end of life, or who feel that life has lost its meaning.  Pain is a secondary consideration, if it is relevant at all.  It is important that legislators in other states and territories are aware of this as they prepare to consider euthanasia bills in their own parliaments.  In the US state of Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1997, about 96% of the patients who have “died from ingesting a lethal medication” were Caucasian.

Data from the Oregon Health Authority also indicates that patients with a college degree or higher are over-represented among patients who have received assisted suicide.  The most common reasons these patients request euthanasia are a loss of autonomy, an inability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable, and a sense of lost dignity.  Similarly, a 2017 study in The New England Journal of Medicine of the implementation of euthanasia legislation in a Canadian hospital stated: “Those who received medical assistance in dying tended to be white and relatively affluent and indicated that loss of autonomy was the primary reason for their request.”

A 2011 Journal of Medical Ethics study of Dutch patients who requested euthanasia stated that feelings of hopelessness and a loss of autonomy were by far the most common factors motivating people requesting assistance in dying. “You lie in bed and none of the normal functions come back,” said one patient in the study. “They will never come back and it will only get worse.” Pain, of course, features in some cases, yet it is a relatively minor consideration.  Data from Oregon suggests that only 26% of patients were motivated to request assistance in suicide due to inadequate pain control.

The image of patients writhing in pain, which bolsters the case put forward by euthanasia supporters, is simply inaccurate.  The typical patient who requests euthanasia is a well-palliated, white patient who feels that life has lost its purpose; or such patients have lost the ability to be the author of the final chapters of their own existence.  What does all this mean?  For a libertarian, not much.  It does not matter why someone wants to end their lives; it only matters that they want to end their lives.  People should have control over their own deaths, regardless of their motivations.  They are in favour of rational suicide, not euthanasia, as such.

For the many in the community who still believe that euthanasia is about pain relief, this data should be a red flag.  The reality is that debate about compassion and inadequate pain control is a distraction.  This is really a debate about how we ought to respond to patients who are in a state of despair.  It’s important that we get our facts straight, as in this particular debate, mistakes can be deadly. The discipline of palliative care “affirms life”, according to the World Health Organization.  Palliative care physicians help patients to explore and come to terms with their physical, emotional, existential and psychological suffering.

They help patients to challenge the assumptions of their own self-perceptions, rather than endorsing their sense of worthlessness and providing them with lethal medication.  An Oxford expert in medical law, Charles Foster, made an observation about this not long ago: Concern about being a burden should not be a criteria for assisted dying.  That ‘being a burden’ is in the minds of so many patients at the end of life is a depressing index of the breakdown of family obligations and expectations in the Western world.  It would have been unthinkable in most cultures and at most historical times.

If indeed euthanasia is primarily a cultural and existential issue rather than a medical issue, this would seem to be an appropriate response.  In providing patients with euthanasia, in contrast, we may inadvertently reinforce the problematic cultural assumptions that lead terminal ill patients to feel that they have lost dignity.  Euthanasia is thought to provide patients with a peaceful exit from this life.  Yet it misses the deeper connection between the affirmation of life and what it means to die a good death.

Source:  An article written by Xavier Symons, Deputy Editor of BioEdge who is doing a PhD in bioethics.

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CATHOLIC CARDINALS AND BISHOPS DECLARE HOMOSEXUAL ACTS AND GENDER REASSIGNMENT ARE GRAVE SINS

By Australian Newsletter

In a sign of the deep divisions in the Catholic Church, two cardinals and several bishops have issued a declaration to correct “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” they claim is endangering Christians’ spiritual health.  The “Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors in the life of the Church of our time’, recently released, took aim at some of the liberal positions on controversial issues taken by Pope Francis and others.  It was signed by US Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was the Vatican’s principal legal officer for six years, appointed by Pope Benedict, but who was sacked by Francis in 2014.

Other signatories were retired Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats, and Kazakstan archbishops Tomash Peta and Jan Pawel Lenga and bishop Athanasius Schneider.  The declaration said the church was in a state of “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation’’ which necessitated their exercising responsibility to speak up: “One has to recognise a widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days.’’  Many Christians, they said felt “an acute spiritual hunger’’ and a need for “a reaffirmation of truths that are obfuscated, undermined and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time.’’

Many people felt abandoned in a kind of existential periphery, a situation that “urgently demands a concrete remedy”.  The Declaration covers dozens of issues, crystallising decades-old debates that have recently come to a head.  It is a comprehensive restatement of centuries of church teaching, upholding, for example that “hell exists” and that people condemned there “for any unrepented mortal sin” are there eternally.  That insistence will be as welcome among some bishops, priests and Catholics as Israel Folau’s tweet on a similar subject was at Rugby Australia.

The Declaration says “homosexual acts” and gender reassignment surgery are “grave sins” and same-sex marriages are contrary to natural and Divine law.  Father Paddy Sykes, chairman of Australia’s National Council of Priests (NCP), said the document “highlighted the  divisions in the church.”  The NCP has 1200 to 1500 paid up members.  The divisions in the church, Fr Sykes said, were clear when the Australian bishops’ conference split 50/50 last year between Brisbane’s archbishop Mark Coleridge and Sydney’s archbishop Anthony Fisher, with Archbishop Coleridge, regarded as the more progressive, appointed president on the grounds of seniority.

Fr Sykes, a parish priest in the NSW country diocese of Wagga, said the new declaration was 100% correct theologically.  It would appeal, he said, to “people whose natural inclination was to have certainty in order to feel safe”.  “Pope Francis recognises that life is not like that and that we need to deal with the fluidity of the life of the world,’’ he said. The pope had “shaken a few cages’’.  But Fr Sykes agreed that Francis was dogmatic on some political subjects, such as climate change. Recently, the pope told energy executives at the Vatican that the world faced a “climate emergency’’ and called for radical action.

Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy chair Fr Scot Armstrong took a different line to Fr Sykes.  He said the cardinals and bishops had produced a “quality, comprehensive’’ document to offer “concrete spiritual help to address the difficulties being experienced as unity in the church is further stretched, and in some cases, even breaking down’’.  It was “a useful reminder that the faith is not our own concoction but received from Christ’’ Fr Armstrong said.  It could not be altered “as a political party might change policies, or a corporation might change its business approach”.

“Pope Francis recently remarked, jokingly, that if some don’t like the faith they can go and found their own church,’’ Fr Armstrong said.  “He was joking, but the point was made.  This document serves to strengthen that point.’’  In the declaration, the cardinals and bishops said abortion was “forbidden by natural and divine law” and euthanasia, which has become lawful in Victoria under tightly controlled conditions, was a “grave violation of the law of God” because it is the “deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person”.  Marriage, they said, was “an indissoluble union of one man and of one woman ordained for the procreation and education of children”.

Referring to the confusion over divorce, remarriage and the reception of Communion generated after Francis’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia and the Vatican’s 2014 and 2015 synods on the family, the signatories insisted it was unacceptable for Catholics who divorced their spouses and entered into subsequent civil unions to receive Communion.  In contrast, many Australian Catholics favour modernisation of church structures and teachings, with calls for married priests, women priests, an end to LGBTIQ discrimination, greater transparency and reform of church governance.  But others advocated a reassertion of tradition and better faith education.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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PRIME MINISTER OPENS HILLSONG CONFERENCE IN PRAYER

By Australian Newsletter

Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged 21,000 Hillsong Conference delegates last week to make love their highest goal, to lay down their judgment of one another, and to pray for their nation more.  Speaking on the opening night of the conference at Sydney Olympic Park after being invited to the stage with his wife Jenny to pray for the nation, Mr Morrison said all believers have essentially the same role: “love God, love people”. “That’s what we all need,” he said. “That’s what our nation needs.  That’s what we’re here to do as Christians.  Not here to judge, not here to lecture.  Just to show the amazing love of God.”

He reaffirmed his election-day statement that he “believes in miracles”, saying their daughter was born on the 7th of the 7th, 2007, “after 17 years of waiting”, and said that Australia “needs more prayer”.   Mr Morrison asked for prayers for “humility of leadership”, as well as “wisdom to see what God sees and to move towards that”.  Morrison led the conference in prayer for people suffering mental illness, for young people battling suicidal thoughts, suffering war veterans, and people going through mid-life struggles.  He also offered prayers for Australia’s Aboriginal communities, people with disabilities, and for an end to the drought.

While speaking, Mr Morrison referenced the national debate over religious freedom, which has intensified after footballer Israel Folau’s controversial comments on social media earlier this year.  He said that while the government has a role to play in legislating for the protection of religious freedom, it is only the people of the nation who can set a culture of freedom.  “It’s not the laws that make freedom of religion work, it’s the culture that accepts it,” he said.  Mr Morrison called for Christians to remember their heritage, referencing missionaries who’ve laid down their lives for Jesus, rather than using the political system to demand their rights.

Source: 103.2FM

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ATTORNEY-GENERAL CHRISTIAN PORTER PUSHES BACK ON “FOLAU’S LAW” IDEA

By Australian Newsletter

Attorney-General Christian Porter is pushing back on calls from within the Coalition to exempt religious beliefs from employment contracts, which could afford legal protection to views like those expressed by rugby player Israel Folau.  Mr Porter cautioned the government was not necessarily interested in “trying to prevent individuals privately contracting the terms of their employment”.  His comments follow a call from Barnaby Joyce to expand new protections against religious discrimination to include clauses preventing employers creating contracts that penalise people for their religious beliefs.

Mr Porter is preparing to present a religious discrimination bill to Parliament this month.  This was a Coalition election commitment and was born out of Philip Ruddock’s religious freedom review, completed last year.  Emboldened by the strong support from religious voters at the recent federal election, some Coalition MPs are now calling for more far-reaching religious freedom provisions in the new laws.  Mr Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia after a social media post that said gay people and adulterers would go to hell.  The former Wallabies star has said he is considering his options, including legal action.

Mr Joyce said Mr Folau’s case “got a lot of people annoyed” during the election.  The Nationals MP said: “People were shocked that someone could lose their job because of what they believe.”  But Mr Porter told 6PR radio that the Folau case was a “very complicated legal question”.  The Attorney-General said: “People enter into employment contracts of various types and terms of their own volition all the time.  What I would say is that as a Government we’re not necessarily in the business of trying to prevent individuals privately contracting the terms of their employment in a fair, balanced and reasonable way with their employer in a range of circumstances.”

Earlier, NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the government did not need to wait for the findings of a review being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into exemptions to anti-discrimination laws currently enjoyed by religious schools.  Senator Fierravanti-Wells said “Whilst the ALRC is not due to report until April 2020, given its diverse and broad terms of reference, I believe that the recent election has reinforced the need for more immediate legislative action,” she said.  Mr Porter said he noted that the Law Reform Commission’s report was a separate piece of work to the upcoming religious discrimination bill.

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TRANSGENDER PRIEST ADDRESSES SCHOOL ASSEMBLY

By Australian Newsletter

An Anglican Girl’s school in Queensland has had a ‘transgender priest’ address students as young as 5 years old at a school assembly, without parental knowledge or consent.  A number of outraged parents contacted Binary seeking support and assistance, concerned that if they approached the school their daughters could be singled out.  The Courier Mail reported, “Rev Josephine Inkpin, who was born Jonathan Inkpin, spoke at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School at Corinda in Brisbane’s western suburbs to promote the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.  Inkpin, a lecturer in theology, also spoke of her transition from a man to a woman.”

The school assembly did not have an opt-out option and no warning was given regarding the controversial matter.  The article reads, “Some parents said there was ‘sexualised, and highly controversial subject matter’.  The school and the church hotly dispute this.”  Arethusa Christian College at Spring Hill also hosted this ‘transgender priest’. Kirralie Smith, spokeswoman for Binary, said “Exposing kids to this ideological agenda is not up to the school.  Parents send their kids to school for an education, not indoctrination.”  Binary invites any parent who is concerned about the imposition of radical gender ideology to contact them via their website: www.binary.org.au

Source: Binary

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TRANSFORM OUR WORLD – ADELAIDE

By Australian Newsletter

International speaker and author Dr Ed Silvoso is coming to Adelaide on August 22-25th. Some may recall Dr Silvoso’s previous visit to Adelaide many years ago when God spoke through him stirring the Christian church to prayer, unity and evangelism.  The focus of Dr Silvoso’s messages is community transformation.  He points to personal intimacy with God.  He calls for fresh intimacy in our marriages and families.  He speaks powerfully to ordinary Christians out in the marketplace seeking to empower and equip them.  He speaks about eliminating spiritual, relational, motivational and material poverty across communities.

Transform our World Adelaide is partnering with the 2019 South Australian Prayer Breakfast, organised by Christian Business & Marketplace Connections.  There is also a Two Day Seminar being ran on August 23-24th at the Clovercrest Baptist Church and a Combined Churches Worship Service to climax Dr Silvoso’s visit being held at the Adelaide Chin Christian Church on August 25th at 6.00pm.  For more information visit Facebook page (Transform our World – Adelaide) or contact Mike Hey mike.hey@icloud.com or Pastor Lindsay Mayes lindsay@afcc.church.

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FEDERAL MINISTER WARNS AGAINST RUSH ON INDIGENOUS RECOGNITION

By Australian Newsletter

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt has warned of a setback to reconciliation that could last decades if the nation rushes towards a referendum without a consensus on constitutional reform.  Mr Wyatt urged a cautious approach to constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people out of concern at the risk of a devastating defeat that would set the cause back a generation.  Indigenous leader Noel Pearson also changed tack on his referendum push conceding the model should be fleshed out before being put to the Australian people, a shift from previous arguments the vote could take place first.

After being sworn in as Australia’s first Indigenous member of a federal cabinet, Mr Wyatt likened a potential defeat to the setback for republicans in the failure of the 1999 referendum on an Australian head of state.  “We need to ensure that we don’t go forward and fail,” he said.  “It’s too important in the scheme of Australian society, particularly for Indigenous Australians.  To lose a referendum because we hadn’t done our work properly would be a major setback for at least 10 or 20 years.  “I would rather gain something within two terms of government than to wait another 20 or 30 years before the next referendum.

Often when you get burned on an issue, as with the republican referendum, you never got a guernsey again.  And I don’t want to be in that situation.”  He said the work had to be methodical and people had to be educated on the importance of constitutional change.  Mr Wyatt, a Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi man from Western Australia, was named to cabinet after serving as minister for aged care.  While Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared that he was “committed to getting an outcome” on constitutional recognition, he signalled caution and said the government would take “as long as is needed” to achieve a consensus.

Indigenous constitutional recognition has been on the political agenda for a decade, but attention has focused on the concept of a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous “Voice to Parliament” since 2017, when it was proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart alongside other key proposals.  The idea for the representative body to advise Parliament on policy affecting Indigenous people has been backed by Labor but has faced hostility in the Coalition, with senior figures describing it as a “third chamber” of Parliament.  That claim has been rejected by advocates of the idea. Mr Wyatt said the discussion was “evolving” and acknowledged people had concerns.

“Certainly, people have expressed their concern at the lack of definition and the lack of clarity as to what the Voice is,” he said.  The challenge for the Morrison government is to satisfy Indigenous Australians, who were promised a referendum in this Parliament by Labor, while avoiding a fierce reaction from conservatives in the Coalition who oppose sweeping change to the constitution.  Mr Pearson told the ABC that he now accepted the “reality” that the referendum proposal must be refined and advocates needed to convince people of the practical merits of a constitutional Voice.

“It’s not possible to present a kind of general description of the idea for the Australian people to consider.  We are going to have to articulate the full detail and I believe we can,” he said.  Mr Pearson said Mr Wyatt should have three priorities in his new role: empowerment of Indigenous people, progress in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and working over the next 12-24 months towards a referendum on the Voice.  “If we have a voice in better policy, that will help the process of empowerment and ultimately it will contribute to the closing of the gap in the next two, three generations,” he said.

MPs from both sides on Parliament’s constitutional recognition committee have backed further exploration of the Voice concept and recommended a “co-design” consultation process with Indigenous communities.  Mr Wyatt flagged examination of regional bodies, noting that Labor senator Patrick Dodson and Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who have co-chaired the constitutional recognition committee, had both raised the idea as a way for Indigenous people to provide input into policy and services.  “So I want to look at that model of regional structures,” he said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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