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January 02, 2011 By Tony Vermeer

AUSTRALIA'S senior Catholic cleric George Pell denounced Catholic politicians who defy church teachings on controversial issues like same-sex adoption

With debate over euthanasia and gay marriage looming in 2011, Cardinal Pell used an interview with The Sunday Telegraph to rebuke MPs who "fly under the Christian or Captain Catholic flag" but "blithely disregard Christian perspectives" when they vote in parliament on moral issues.

"If a person says, 'look, I'm not a Christian, I've a different set of perspectives', I disagree but I understand," the Archbishop of Sydney said.

"If a person says to me, 'look I'm nominally a Christian but it sits lightly with me', I understand that.

"But it's incongruous for somebody to be a Captain Catholic one minute, saying they're as good a Catholic as the Pope, then regularly voting against the established Christian traditions."

Cardinal Pell refused to name the targets of his ire but did not deny NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, a committed Catholic with a degree in theology, was one of them.

Ms Keneally mounted a passionate, detailed argument in support of the same-sex adoption bill passed in parliament in September, emphasising her Catholic background, quoting the Bible and citing the Second Vatican Council.

She told parliament the Vatican Council in the mid-1960s reaffirmed the primacy of an individual's conscience in determining their views and this permitted her to reject the church's position on homosexuality and procreation.

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell also voted for the bill, but did not refer to his Catholic faith or the church.

The Catholic Church has also been at odds with the Keneally Government over the introduction of ethics classes in public schools, which the Opposition has vowed to scrap if it wins the election.

Asked directly whether he was criticising Ms Keneally, Cardinal Pell said: "I'm not referring to any particular politicians, but I say to the politicians - as happens to me - if the cap fits, why are we not constrained to wear it?"

He said citing primacy of conscience in support of views was "OK, but if you're espousing something that's not a Christian position, don't claim Christian backing for that".

Written by

Tony Vermeer


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