Catholics & Voting in Australia Print
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 22:19
Australian have just elected a new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Rudd was raised a Catholic and is now a practicing Anglican who quotes Catholic social teaching, Pope Benedict and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He also recently voted to make RU 486 available.

And there you have the dilemma that Australian Catholics face when voting. There is no strong, well-developed pro-life movement in Australia and abortion is a deciding factor only for a tiny minority on voters. Only one small political party called Family First (founded in 2002)is pro-life. FF is made up mostly of conservative Christians, and has one sitting MP. All citizens of voting age are legally required to vote in Australia, so abstaining is not an alternative.

As an Australian friend of mine wrote me today:

"I am also cynical in so far as the 'conservative' side of politics often has the pro-life rhetoric in practice it makes no difference. We have just come out of a situation where the Minister for Health - Tony Abbott - was a practicing Catholic but it made no difference to policy. The introduction of RU486 was taken out of his hands by the introduction of a Private Members Bill, embryonic stem cell research was approved, and so on. The only positive was that he managed to secure funding for pregnancy counseling services for the Catholic Centacare agency."

Take a look at this very colorful map of the positions of the six major parties on life issues. (prepared by the Marriage & Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Sydney)and you'll get the idea.

It is hard for Australian Catholics to grasp the intensity of the debate about life issues in this country.