Archbishop Dennis Hart of Melbourne cancelled Chief Minister Jon Stanhope’s speech at the last minute over the minister’s pro-abortion stance, after pro-life activists criticized the commission's choice.
Stanhope was to give the annual Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace lecture, Rerum Novarum, on Friday on the issue of a national Bill of Rights.
The archbishop said the issue of a Bill of Rights was worthy of public discussion but it was clear Stanhope's pro-abortion position would have been raised at the meeting, reported AAP.
"The Church's teachings on sanctity of life and the rights of the unborn in particular are not matters for debate in a church sponsored lecture," he reportedly said. "I am obliged to ensure that there is no ambiguity or confusion in respect to the Church's teachings on these matters.”
The pro-life community has opposed Stanhope since 2001, when he moved to overturn ACT laws which required women considering an abortion to view pictures of aborted fetuses before undergoing the procedure.