Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hands off Pell ...

The Greens’ Lee Rhiannon really is going too far by referring Cardinal Pell’s comments to some kind of parliamentary privileges committee to determine if he has engaged in “contempt of Parliament”.

Her comments on the composition of the committee (which will include Rev Fred Nile MLC) indicate she isn’t interested in a fair hearing for Pell but rather for the result to be known even before the committee meets.

Cardinal Pell’s views may not be popular and may be regarded as extreme by some, but he has every right to express them. Like any other voter, the Cardinal has every right to tell his elected representatives how he thinks they should vote on a particular issue.

In doing so, he also has the right to invoke any religious, ideological or other commonalities he shares with certain MP’s. Unlike the Exclusive Brethren, Cardinal Pell isn’t being secretive or under-handed. Rather, he’s come out in the open and expressed his views. He hasn’t acted illegally.

Pell’s views don’t represent a rolling back of democracy or imposition of theocracy. I don’t see signs of any papal guards marching on Macquarie Street anytime soon. I don’t see any inquisition being hatched at St Mary’s. I don’t see any stakes being hammered into the ground for a legislative witch hunt.

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s true that many of those supporting him today are behaving hypocritically. And it’s also true that Pell is undermining some of the pompous posturing he has exhibited toward other religious congregations. However, this doesn’t mean he should be the subject of any official parliamentary inquiry.

By subjecting Pell to such an inquiry, all the Greens will achieve is more sympathy for the Cardinal. Whether this will translates into more support for his views on embryonic stem cell research remains to be seen. However, on this occasion, Rhiannon looks like imposing a kind of secular fundamentalism on Pell and other voters whose position on the issue is guided by what they see as Christian religious teachings.

Rhiannon should follow the advice she gives to other MP’s and leave her beliefs at home. What’s good for the clerical goose should be good for the Lefty socialist gander.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007

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