Catholic bishops have the right and the duty to point out Catholic teaching to the public and to remind politicians, especially Catholics, “that public acts usually bring public consequences,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney in The Sunday Telegraph.
The cardinal issued his response after an investigation was launched into the views of Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth by the W.A. state parliamentary privileges committee for investigation. The case was referred by the speaker Fred Riebeling, who sees the possible application of Catholic discipline as a “threat”.
“Some seemed to suggest that while a football club, a political party or a business certainly could in some circumstances sack or exclude a member or employee, it was totally out of order to suggest a Christian Church might even consider a similar possibility,” said the cardinal.
“A few intolerant politicians want to ban religious argument in public life, so that the only permissible reasoning will be irreligious or anti-religious,” he observed.
The cardinal said the debate also raised questions about what it means to be a Catholic.
“A Catholic is someone who believes Christ is Son of God, accepts His teachings and lives a life of worship, service and duty in the Catholic community,” he explained. “Catholics are not created by the accident of birth to remain only because their tribe has an interesting history.”
“All Catholics who continue to reject important Catholic teachings, even in areas such as sexuality, family, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, cloning where “liberals” claim the primacy of conscience rules, should expect to be confronted, gently and consistently, rather than comforted and encouraged in their wrongdoing,” he continued.
The cardinal concluded by saying that every Catholic politician who voted recently in favor of the cloning bill “should think twice and examine his or her conscience before next receiving Communion.”