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July 2020


By Feature Articles

Editors note:  I regularly receive comments from readers wondering why Church leaders do not seek to inform our National Leaders of the spiritual nature of the conflicts being played out before us across the world. This feature article is an edited version of a letter written by a Catholic Archbishop to President Trump wherein he seeks to do just that. From 2011 to 2016, the writer, Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viogano, served as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, meaning he was the Holy See’s diplomat to America. He is known for shedding light on financial and sexual abuses within the Catholic Church.

Mr. President,

In recent months we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity, while the children of darkness represent an absolute minority. And yet the former are the object of a sort of discrimination which places them in a situation of moral inferiority with respect to their adversaries, who often hold strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media. In an apparently inexplicable way, the good are held hostage by the wicked and by those who help them either out of self-interest or fearfulness.

These two sides, which have a Biblical nature, follow the clear separation between the offspring of the Woman and the offspring of the Serpent. On the one hand there are those who, although they have a thousand defects and weaknesses, are motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family and the nation, exploit workers to make themselves unduly wealthy, foment internal divisions and wars, and accumulate power and money: for them the fallacious illusion of temporal well-being will one day – if they do not repent – yield to the terrible fate that awaits them, far from God, in eternal damnation.

In society, Mr. President, these two opposing realities co-exist as eternal enemies, just as God and Satan are eternal enemies. And it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against the Children of Light in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans. They seem to be so certain of already having everything under control that they have laid aside that circumspection that until now had at least partially concealed their true intentions. The investigations already under way will reveal the true responsibility of those who managed the Covid emergency not only in the area of health care but also in politics, the economy, and the media. We will probably find that in this colossal operation of social engineering there are people who have decided the fate of humanity, arrogating to themselves the right to act against the will of citizens and their representatives in the governments of nations.

We will also discover that the riots in these days have provoked civil disturbances, believing they would be followed by repression which, although legitimate, could be condemned as an unjustified aggression against the population. The same thing is also happening in Europe, in perfect synchrony. It is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would seek to bring to power those who embody the goals of the deep state and who express those goals faithfully and with conviction. It will not be surprising if, in a few months, we learn once again that hidden behind these acts of vandalism and violence there are those who hope to profit from the dissolution of the social order so as to build a world without freedom.

Although it may seem disconcerting, the opposing alignments I have described are also found in religious circles. There are faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ, but there are also mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by ravenous wolves. It is not surprising that these mercenaries are allies of the children of darkness and hate the children of light: just as there is a deep state, there is also a deep church that betrays its duties and forswears its proper commitments before God. Thus the Invisible Enemy, whom good rulers fight against in public affairs, is also fought against by good shepherds in the ecclesiastical sphere. It is a spiritual battle, not one of the flesh.

The United States has in you a President who has courageously defended the right to life, who is not ashamed to denounce the persecution of Christians throughout the world, who speaks of Jesus Christ and the right of citizens to freedom of worship. Your participation in the March for Life, and more recently your proclamation of the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, are actions that confirm which side you wish to fight on. And I dare to believe that both of us are on the same side in this battle, albeit with different weapons.

For this reason, I believe that the recent attacks that you have endured are part of the orchestrated media narrative which seeks not to fight racism and bring social order, but to aggravate dispositions; not to bring justice, but to legitimize violence and crime; not to serve the truth, but to influence political outcomes. And it is disconcerting that there are Bishops who, by their words, prove that they are aligned on the opposing side. They are subservient to the deep state, to globalism, to aligned thought, to the New World Order which they invoke ever more frequently in the name of a universal brotherhood which has nothing Christian about it, but which evokes the ideals of those wanting to dominate the world by driving God out of the courts, out of schools, out of families, and perhaps even out of churches.

The American people are mature and have now understood how much the mainstream media does not want to spread the truth but seeks to silence and distort it, spreading the lie that is useful for the purposes of their masters. However, it is important that the good, who are the majority, wake up from their sluggishness and do not accept being deceived by a minority of dishonest people with un-avowable purposes. It is necessary that the good, the children of light, come together and make their voices heard. What more effective way is there to do this, Mr. President, than by prayer, asking the Lord to protect you, the United States, and all of humanity from this enormous attack of the Enemy? Before the power of prayer, the deceptions of the children of darkness will collapse, their plots will be revealed, their betrayal will be shown, their frightening power will end in nothing, brought to light and exposed for what it is: an infernal deception.

Mr. President, my prayer is constantly turned to the beloved American nation, where I had the privilege and honor of being sent by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio. In this dramatic and decisive hour for all of humanity, I am praying for you and also for all those who are at your side in the government of the United States. I trust that the American people are united with me and you in prayer to Almighty God. United against the Invisible Enemy of all humanity, I bless you and the First Lady, the beloved American nation, and all men and women of good will.

Signed Carlo Maria Vigano,  Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America

Mr Trump responded by calling the letter one of the most important he had received and thanking the Archbishop for the many fascinating insights contained in the letter.




By Australian Newsletter

The National Council of Churches has called on all Christians across the nation to set aside next Sunday (2nd August) as a day of Prayer, Worship and optional Fasting as our nation, and the State of Victoria in particular, continues to battle with the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Council President Bishop Philip Huggins in a letter to member Churches and released also to the Prayer Movement across the nation says, “ We all know the impact of the pandemic here and overseas, including on some of our own loved ones. At the NCCA (National Council of Churches Australia) Board this week, we Directors all shared our vivid and poignant current reflections. What we can offer again now are our prayers together. Hence this encouragement to you all. It is comforting when we know we are all praying together to our Saviour. From our various traditions, there are prayer resources, ancient and contemporary, which we have been offering already.

Here is a prayer that might be helpful on Sunday August 2, 2020:

“Gracious God, trusting in your providence and presence,

we bring our prayer for an end to this pandemic.

We pray for your strengthening of all those committed to offering costly leadership during this crisis.

We pray for all who are ill.

We pray for those anxious about getting ill.

We pray for those full of grief.

We remember those who have died.

Aware of our fragility, we pray for your grace to sustain us as we do what we can to end this pandemic.

Your compassionate, peaceful and creative response to many crises is our model, including in our Sunday Gospel (Mt . 14: 13-21).

As we worship in resurrection faith on Sunday August 2, we offer our heartfelt prayer in your Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Signed Bishop Philip Huggins

Whilst different states have different levels of restrictions on gathering for Sunday worship the Australian Prayer Network encourages Christians across the nation to meet together as appropriate, or to spend time before the Lord in private devotion, during the course of that day seeking to bring an end to this health and economic crisis in our nation.

Source: Compiled by APN from information supplied by the National Council of Churches

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By Australian Newsletter

More than one million Australian children face living below the poverty line if the $550-a-month coronavirus supplement is cut off in September. The unemployment spike caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed up the number of children living in benefit-dependent families to more than one in five 0-14 year-olds. Welfare advocates and social policy experts warn that without the benefit supplement, many families would spiral into poverty. New figures released to the Senate COVID-19 committee reveal that 2,242,392 people were receiving the supplement as at June 26, including 1,758,700 people on unemployment benefits, up by almost a million since December.

Based on the proportion of families with children usually receiving unemployment benefits, and those in families receiving the Parenting Payment Single, the number of children in the danger zone conservatively now reaches more than a million. “These children have effectively been taken out of poverty by virtue of the supplement, and we congratulate the government for that. But if it is removed in September, we risk plunging them back into poverty or potentially into poverty for the first time,” Anti-Poverty Week executive director Toni Wren said. Ms Wren said a combination of the bushfires and the corona­virus pandemic had pushed the number of children living in poverty (defined as a household with income less than 50 per cent of median income) from an already unacceptable one in six 0-14 year-olds, or around 780,000, to over a million.

“We know that growing up in poverty sets children back in their learning at school and affects their physical and mental health, and these negative effects can last a lifetime as they flow into job prospects and adult health,” Ms Wren said. “Effectively doubling the JobSeeker payment via the $550-per-fortnight coronavirus supplement has lifted many thousands of children out of poverty and prevented others in newly unemployed families from plunging into poverty. “But we are deeply concerned about the impact on children if the support is withdrawn,” she said. “It is acting like welfare should right now, providing poverty protection.”

The government is looking to avoid an economic cliff in September when the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments are due to come to an end. Josh Frydenberg recently announced further temporary support arrangements to deal with the ongoing pandemic. Social policy expert Peter Whiteford from the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy agreed there was a danger that one million children were in line to return to poverty conditions without a policy change. “We definitely have to avoid this cliff on September 24,” Professor Whiteford said. “It would be catastrophic socially and economically to go back to the old benefit level.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

While the Victorian Premier has praised the efforts of those following new mask wearing rules that took effect last week, there have been reports of some flatly refusing to don a face covering, including a woman who filmed her own mask meltdown in a Melbourne Bunnings. “This is not about human rights,” Premier Andrews said. “There are 10 families that are going to be burying someone in the next few days. “Wear a mask, it’s not too much to ask.” Outrageous footage of a woman refusing to wear a mask inside Bunnings has gone viral. It shows her walking into a store, believed to be in Melbourne, where she was immediately stopped by staff and asked if she had a mask.

“Well it’s clear I don’t and you are not authorised to ask me or question me about it,” she says in the video. The woman is then asked if she wants to speak to the manager, who tells her she needs a medical certificate if she wants to continue into the store. “I actually don’t need a medical certificate,” she says. “You’re discriminating against me.” When another staff member tells her the mask is a condition of entry, she lashes out. “That’s discrimination and I can have you sued personally for discriminating against me as a woman,” she says. “It’s an unlawful condition of entry, therefore that exposes you, personally and Bunnings to being sued for discrimination because it is in breach of the 1948 Charter of Human Rights to discriminate against men and women.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The Jehovah’s Witnesses is openly defying the child sex abuse royal commission, refusing to implement its recommendations because they go against the religion’s “Bible-based beliefs” despite allegations that 1800 children had been abused since 1950.  The secretive religion of nearly 70,000 members is one of six institutions that were publicly shamed and stripped of taxpayer funding by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston who condemned the groups for failing to uphold their “moral obligation” to society by signing-up to the redress scheme.  She warned the refusal of the six institutions, including the Boys’ Brigade NSW, to participate was blocking the compensation claims of 55 abuse survivors.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses has failed to reform its structures in line with the directions issued by the royal commission in addition to its rejection of demands it sign-up to the government’s scheme aimed at compensating victims.  The decision means those with sex abuse allegations within the religion will still need to have their stories corroborated by at least two witnesses before church elders consider whether an alleged offender should be sanctioned by the organisation.  The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse warned there were systemic problems within the Jehovah’s Witness religion in dealing with abuse, including a failure to report credible allegations to the police.

The Commission heard Jehovah’s Witnesses had documentation of abuse allegations by 1800 children involving more than 1000 perpetrators since 1950 and three specific recommendations were made.  The religion was urged to abandon its application of the two-witness rule in cases involving complaints of child sexual abuse;  that it allow women to be involved in the investigation processes and that it no longer require members to shun people who leave the organisation if they are a victim of child sex abuse.  A Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman said the three recommendations related to the religion’s “Bible-based beliefs”.  “We believe they go well beyond the scope of the royal commission’s terms of reference,” he said.

In a second statement, the spokesman said adopting the recommendations was unnecessary because it showed “a distinct lack of understanding of the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.   The spokesman said two witnesses to an incident of abuse are only required to determine whether an alleged perpetrator remains in the congregation, not whether an allegation is reported to police.  He also said women can be “fully involved in receiving and submitting evidence of child sexual abuse” and denied the religion shunned victims of child sexual abuse.  But the spokesman did confirm the organisation shuns people who leave the organisation “of his own free will”.

Other institutions that were “named and shamed” by the government for not meeting the June 30 deadline were Australian Air League, Fairbridge Restored Limited, Lakes Entrance Pony Club and Kenja Communications.  The Australian Air League has since announced it would join the scheme.  Senator Ruston said the institutions that had not met the June deadline to join the compensation scheme for victims of institutional child sex abuse would be ineligible for any future commonwealth funding.  The government is also investigating options to revoke tax concessions including for those who can apply for charitable status.  She will discuss further sanctions with state and territory ministers next week.

Australian Air League, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Boys Brigade NSW all have charitable status, the Lakes Entrance Pony Club is on the tax deductible gift registry.  “It is completely unacceptable that these institutions have failed to meet their moral obligation to join the national redress scheme,” Senator Ruston said.  “These are institutions which know they have been named in applications and yet they have chosen to shirk their responsibility to finally do the right thing by these survivors.  More than 220 non-government institutions, including churches, schools and charities, have signed up to the scheme, with another 156 committing to joining.  Nearly 2700 people have received compensation under the scheme, worth a total of $220.9 million.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

In an Australian first, Justice Garry Watts has allowed a mother to call evidence from a doctor who questions the safety of transgender treatments for children.  This could be an important test case as this “mother is expected to argue doctors broke the law when giving the green light to opposite-sex hormone drugs for her son.”  In re Imogen, a pseudonym for the 16-year-old who was born male, the mother’s psychiatric expert Dr B claims the gender clinic regime of puberty blocker drugs, opposite-sex hormones and sometimes surgery for minors who present with gender issues “can gloss over deeper and more complex relational and psychological difficulties”, making non-invasive psychotherapy the better response.

“Neither courts or parents should approve non-therapeutic gender clinic treatment likely to result in infertility and other long-term harm on behalf of a child lacking capacity to consent,” the judge was told by an unidentified watchdog group of international health and medical practitioners unsuccessfully seeking to join the case on the mother’s side.  In a preliminary decision Justice Watts notes concerns about young adult “detransitioners” who regret medical treatment, evidence that gender clinics falsely promote puberty blockers as reversible, the possible role of “social contagion” in teenage trans declarations, the dangers of “aggressive trans activism”, a failure of media reporting, and “persecution” of parents and practitioners worried about child welfare.

Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman said it was a case to watch.  “Laws must be written taking into consideration all available facts.  Evidence based science and medical studies must be considered.  The issue has become far too politicised, with academics and doctors who don’t comply being threatened and censored.  It is up to the courts to ensure all evidence is considered for the sake of these vulnerable children.”

Source: Binary

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By Australian Newsletter

The Australian government has released updated advice warning citizens against traveling to china amid escalating tensions between the two nations. Australians have been warned not to visit China because they could be ‘at risk of arbitrary detention’ by Beijing for ‘endangering national security’”.  Adoni Media Managing Director Leisa Goddard said “it all comes back to the fact we are now looking at offering safe haven visas to anyone from Hong Kong”. It is most likely “some sort of retaliation again for Australia standing up” and offering to take Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, she told Sky News contributor Peter Gleeson.

Source: Sky News Australia

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By Australian Newsletter

It ought to be a time for celebration of what it is to be Australian, of mateship, of selfless hard yakka and good old Aussie know-how.  Instead, the announcement of the nation’s top awards each Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday is often greeted with as many howls of derision as it is with applause. Last month, the focus was on potty-mouthed shock jock Mike Carlton, whose Member of the Order of Australia prompted outrage from Liberal MPs, given his history of attacking critics in torrid terms, such as “Jewish bigot”.  Last year, Carlton hit a new low, tweeting his mystification as to why Q&A panellist Jimmy Barnes did not “leap from his seat and strangle” Liberal MP Nicolle Flint.

However, the willingness of the Council for the Order of Australia, which makes the awards, to overlook such poor behaviour is hardly an isolated case. After the last Australia Day Awards it was the AM for Bettina Arndt that sparked outrage.  The gong came not long after the author and commentator was forced to apologise for suggesting Nicolaas Bester, a Tasmanian teacher who repeatedly abused a 15-year-old girl, had been “persecuted” by feminists.  Some schoolgirls, Arndt had further claimed, were “sexually provocative” towards male teachers.  Other past gong recipients have somehow included an alleged rapist, Liang Joo Leow.  The Sydney dermatologist was awarded an AM, despite having been charged in 2018 with raping a Victorian doctor.

Leow, who denies the allegations, is awaiting trial on one charge of rape and one charge of procuring sexual penetration by fraud.  Last year, an AM also went to far-right Fraser Anning Party candidate Adrian Cheok, who once described Labor senator Penny Wong as a “half man” and had been accused of making Islamophobic social media posts.  One of these captioned a picture of a burqa-clad woman alongside a polling booth with the words:  “Who or what is voting for what or whom?”  A range of people, from those who’ve been involved in the award process to those who study its outcomes, believe too many awards are being granted, too often to those who don’t deserve them, and that the entire system is flawed”.

The most prestigious awards, the Companion of the Order of Australia and the Officer of the Order of Australia, tend to go to big names; some would say the big end of town: ex-politicians, judges, high-flyer businessmen, media types, academics and esteemed medicos.  While the awards are meant to be for achievements of the highest order, it often seems these people are getting gongs primarily for doing their jobs, albeit very well, perhaps with a bit of charity support on the side.  Our most remarkable community heroes, those doing selfless voluntary work or going “above and beyond” in helping others, year-on-year, tend to receive the lowest award: the Medal of the Order of Australia.

A lucky few of these grassroots quiet achievers might receive the gong one level up, the Member of the Order of Australia.  While some argue this is just the way the awards are structured, and awards of all levels are valuable, there is a push for change.  “I don’t see why someone who has fostered 105 children for 28 years should receive a community service award and a politician walks away with what is considered a more national award,” says Kerri-Anne Kennerley.  “I think probably it is time for a review.”  The veteran TV presenter has inside knowledge, having unsuccessfully mounted such arguments while serving for several years on the Council for the Order of Australia.

“I believe the system does need a look at.  I think there are too many awards given and too many famous people get them just for being famous,” she said.  “It’s not the Logies.”  In the top two awards, the AC and AO, in the most recent Queen’s Birthday honours civil list, only four of 53 recipients gained their gong first and foremost for service to the community, rather than to a profession or area of work.  Economist Nicholas Gruen, visiting professor at University of Technology Sydney and Kings College, London, crunches the numbers in terms of who gets what each year.  He agrees the top awards are weighted to high-status Australians.

His analysis shows that from 2013-18, less than 30% of all AC recipients had done any community service, dropping to little more than 10% in 2019-20, not including last month’s Queen’s Birthday honours.  “If you look at the most senior ACs, I do sit and wonder why we should say that they are worth a better award than someone who has worked with their local community for 40 years and helped orphans find employment,” Gruen says.  He believes one way of tackling this bias would be a citizens’ council, to inject the values of “ordinary people” into the selection process.  “You ask 25 people from the Australian community who might be chosen at random, like we do with a jury, and you ask them to deliberate on the kinds of values they want to reward,” he says.

Very few recipients will publicly criticise the process.  A notable exception is former chief of the defence force, Chris Barrie, who not only served on the council for four years, but received an AM, upgraded to an AO and then an AC.  “I think the criticism that a lot of people get the higher awards because of what they do in their professions has quite a lot of substance to it,” Barrie said.  He says medical, legal and even military organisations see it as “very important” to secure awards and upgrades for their members and work “pretty assiduously” at pushing their person’s case.  Barrie strongly backs a system of national awards and believes a review could consider whether more of the higher honours should go to grassroots community achievers.

“The bulk of them (top awards recipients) are at the top of a profession or calling and most of the community people are down in the AMs and OAMs,” he says.  “This is egalitarian Australia but what we’re doing in the current system is sort of preserving a hangover of the British imperial system.”   The 19-member Council of the Order of Australia argues it is independent and fair.  Anyone can nominate anyone. However, the council does appear to be largely a creature of politicians and bureaucrats.  It includes 11 representatives of state and federal governments, as well as a chair.  Even the six or seven “community representatives”, sound folk though they undoubtedly may be, are appointed by the governor-general on the prime minister’s say-so.

Chaired by former Northern Territory chief minister  Shane Stone, AC, the council rejects much of the criticism, including the gripe that too few community heroes are receiving top gongs.  “The level of award does not denigrate the value of that service or the contribution that the recipient has made,” a council spokesman said.  Even so, the language of the awards suggests a clear hierarchy.  AC is “for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large”;  AO is for “distinguished service of a high degree or to humanity at large”;  AM is for “service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group”, and finally, OAM is awarded for service “worthy of particular recognition”.

Of course, those community heroes who are awarded OAMs or, more rarely, AMs never complain they didn’t get an AO or an AC.  Like most Australians, many do not understand the distinction.  “I thought OAMs were higher because they have more letters,” says Sarah Brown, a Northern Territory remote area nurse awarded an AM in the recent Queen’s Birthday honours.  Stone’s council also denies ACs and AOs tend to be given to people simply for doing their jobs.  “The council generally looks for service of nominees over and above their paid employment, whether it be through direct volunteering, service more broadly to the growth of professional organisations, boards, research or educational roles, philanthropy or other endeavour,” a council spokesman says.

Those involved in the vetting process insist due diligence, including trawling recent social media posts, does occur.  However, they argue any dodgy baggage must be weighed against the person’s achievements.  Brown, the Northern Territory remote area nurse awarded an AM, worked tirelessly for 17 years to get dialysis machines and nurses to 18 remote communities.  She is an example of the grassroots battler who Kennerley, Gruen and others would like to see given the nation’s top award.  For her part, Brown is simply thrilled at any recognition and the profile and support it provides for her Purple House organisation, based in Alice Springs.

She urges Australians to force change through the nomination process. “Nominate people, if you make a bit of effort, you might see a change, because they’ll be flooded by grassroots people,” she says.  Nominations are on the rise, but so too is the proportion of nominees granted an award.  Figures show an almost doubling of awards since 2000, while the number of nominations has failed to keep pace with the largesse.  Since 2000, the number of nominations has risen from 1462 to 2149 but the number of awards issued has soared, from 847 in 2000 to 1547 in 2020.  The percentage of nominations given the green light has increased from 58 per cent in 2000 to 72 per cent this year.

Governor-General David Hurley, who announces the awards, has taken a keen interest in fostering their status.  He welcomes debate and appears open to an “evolution” of the awards to best reflect Australia’s changing society.  “I am determined, across my term in office, to ensure that the Order of Australia is, and is perceived to be by the Australian public, the highest form of recognition of the efforts and achievements of Australians,” General Hurley said.  “At the end of the day the Order of Australia belongs to and represents all Australians.  They must have confidence in it.  It must continue to evolve, as our society does, and reflect and recognise the best of Australia.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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