Yes, he’s at it again. Having sussed out a few years back that The Greens are antiChristian, Sydney’s most famous climate scientist and expert on everything, George Pell, stars again in today’s Oz – which won’t let you look unless you cough up the readies or sign on for a trial – or should that be an ordeal? But I, believe it or not, have bought a paper copy – as I do like the Review supplement and Phillip Adams in the colour mag – which also today had a fair enough profile of Greens leader Christine Milne.
However, I will quote George Pell’s sub-Christian rant, noting that the poor man was goaded perhaps as Ms Milne had suggested his church was more interested in money than just about anything else.
“I am loath to help Christine Milne avoid limelight deprivation,” Cardinal Pell told The Weekend Australian. “However, she is not well placed to be lecturing Catholic schools on anything, given the bitter hostility of the Greens to Christians, to Catholic teaching, and all church schools…
“It is particularly regrettable that she parades her Catholic background, which she has comprehensively rejected, despite her efforts to co-opt Pope John Paul II to her bizarre green bandwagon.”
That’s not one of Cardinal Pell’s more Christ-like moments, is it! Perhaps a cartoon from the Jesuit magazine Eureka Street is in order.
Back in 2010 when George Pell – along with the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace who has lately been saying oafish things on another matter – outed the Green Antichrist, Father Frank Brennan in Eureka Street offered Why a conscientious Christian could vote for the Greens.
On Sunday His Eminence took up the call in his regular Sunday Telegraph column stating: ‘In 1996 the Green leader Bob Brown coauthored a short book The Greenswith the notorious philosopher Peter Singer (now at Princeton University in USA), who rejects the unique status of humans and supports infanticide, as well as abortion and euthanasia.’
The Cardinal has urged his listeners and readers ‘to examine the policies of the Greens on their website and judge for themselves how thoroughly anti-Christian they are’.
Clearly the Greens will not be gaining the votes or preferences of Pell and Wallace. But was it principled and prudent for them to make this public declaration? Could not a conscientious Christian still vote for the Greens? And are their policies more anti-Christian than those of the major parties?…
Some Christians, myself included, think that the Greens are not classifiable as straight out anti-Christian. While some of their members may be (much like Mark Latham was in the Labor Party), others like Lin Hatfield Dodds have given distinguished public service in their churches for decades.
On some policy issues, I daresay the Greens have a more Christian message than the major parties.
Consider their stand on overseas aid, refugees, stewardship of creation and the environment, public housing, human rights protection, and income management. On all these issues, the Greens are far more in synch with the periodic utterances of most Church leaders than either of the major political parties. The Greens have been the only party to hold back the tide against the race to the bottom in the asylum seeker debate since Kevin Rudd was replaced as Prime Minister.
Admittedly the Greens can afford to be more idealistic on some of these issues because they will never occupy the treasury benches. This idealism appeals to some voters, especially the young. Even some of us hardened older voters see a place for some idealism expressed by minor political parties…
If all the Greens’ policies were truly classifiable as ‘anti-Christian’, I would have no problem with church leaders urging people to vote for another party. But given that some of their policies, and on issues which will be legislated in the next three years, are arguably more Christian than those of the major parties, I think it best that Church leaders maintain a discreet reticence about urging a vote for or against any particular political party.
This is especially the case given that Green preferences are more likely to favour the major party headed by an atheist rather than the one headed by a professed Christian. It would be very regrettable if an attack by Pell and the Christian Lobby on the Greens could be construed as an indirect shot across the bows of the atheist Prime Minister.
Though the Christian Lobby thought its influence significant when the major parties were both headed by professed Christians, there is a need for special sensitivity, judging politicians and parties by their fruits in this pluralistic democratic Australia where quite a number of its thinking voters as well as some of its leading politicians happen to be atheist.
I thought the language of our Cardinal on this occasion unbecoming and unhelpful in the cause of church credibility in the public square. If the Australian Christian Lobby wants to mount such rhetorical election campaigns, all our bishops should maintain a dignified distance and reticence.
See also from July 2012 Those crazy Greens by Dustin Halse.
According to New South Wales ALP General Secretary Sam Dastyari the Greens are ‘extremists not unlike One Nation’. Not to be outdone, Paul Howes, the Australian Workers’ Union National Secretary wrote an opinion article denouncing the Greens as a ‘fringe’ party in pursuit of ‘extremist agendas’….
Former ALP member for Melbourne and finance minister Lindsay Tanner noted in 2010 that the Greens ‘are harvesting growing support from a particular demographic that first emerged as a key part of Labor’s support base in the late 1960s’. Poignantly, he commented that Greens voters are ‘comfortable enough to be able to put aside immediate self-interest when assessing their political options’.
Linking the Greens to One Nation is a sinister and ill-considered claim. The Greens are progressive as opposed to extremist. The party envisions a country that is environmentally, socially and economically responsible. They are the only party of political influence to have a comprehensive set of written and openly accessible policy statements. In many areas they represent mainstream Australian values.
Perhaps the Greens’ moral compass is not as skewed as some in the ALP would have us believe. Indeed, the Greens may be ahead of the curve in appealing to a progressive demographic that has traditionally voted Labor…
I am not a rusted-on supporter of The Greens, I should add, though I have been known to vote for them in the Senate. I was for example annoyed by their scuttling of the compromise carbon trading plan back when Malcolm Turnbull was consequently rolled by Tony Abbott. But on many an issue they are far more intelligent than George Pell – or Mr Wallace. It should also be noted that Frank Brennan, whose 2010 views I so commend, does also say this in his article.
Like Cardinal Pell and Jim Wallace, I part company with the Greens on issues like abortion, stem cell research, same sex marriage and funding for church schools. But on none of these issues will the Greens carry the day given that policy changes in these areas will occur only if they are supported by a majority from both major political parties.
Which goes to show that there are many shades of conservatism too. But one does feel that Frank Brennan would offer a more considered position and a more charitable debate than the two he names there.