Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher back at work last week after a five-month illness.
Picture: James Croucher
Federal election 2016: Greens’ policies immoral, says Catholic archbishop
- Tess Livingstone
- The Australian
- 12:00AM May 30, 2016
Archbishop Fisher, 56, said mass at St Mary’s Cathedral yesterday after a five-month fightback from paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that damages the nervous system.
Worshippers, including Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and wife Lynne, packed the cathedral and rose to applaud the archbishop as he made it to the altar.
Staff from St Vincent’s Hospital and Mount Wilga rehabilitation centre, who helped him recover from the debilitating illness, also watched on.
The archbishop has condemned the contentious Safe Schools program as even more radical and dangerous social engineering than same-sex marriage, to which he is also vehemently opposed.
In an interview with The Australian, Archbishop Fisher said Safe Schools was foisting “an extreme form of the LGBTI agenda on children’’.
Archbishop Fisher also took aim at the Greens’ support for the removal of religious “exemptions” to anti-discrimination laws.
He said he was uncomfortable with aspects of the major parties’ asylum-seeker policies, especially offshore detention, which left young women, especially, vulnerable to attack and rape. Nor did he want a resumption of the kind of flotilla that brought 50,000 asylum-seekers to Australia during the Rudd-Gillard years, resulting in 1200 drownings and thousands more people in detention.
It was a “matter of striking a balance’’, he said, but added, “I don’t know all the answers’’.
Archbishop Fisher also wants Australia to take more refugees, but through official channels, not from boats. People desperate to escape danger should be encouraged to join the queue, he said, but declined to nominate an ideal number: “It depends on how many can be accommodated.’’
Nor would he be opposed to asking newcomers to live and work for a couple of years in regional and rural areas where workers were scarce, as many migrants did on the Snowy Mountains scheme decades ago.
He was disappointed over how few Syrian refugees appeared to have made it to Australia after the government pledged to take an extra 12,000 Syrians in September. There was a desperate need for Christians to receive greater help, he said.
Syrian Christians in Sydney knew where many of them were hiding and would help in resettling them.
Archbishop Fisher admitted he was “quite surprised’’ the Pope took only Muslim families back to Rome on his plane from the Greek island of Lesbos last month, reportedly because Christians did not have their paperwork in order. It was much harder, the archbishop said, for Christians to escape Islamic State and enter UNHCR camps so they could be eligible for resettlement.
Recent reports of Islamic State fighters setting fire to a woman underlined the terrorists’ grotesque barbarism, on a par with that of history’s cruellest despots, he said.
However, the Pope told French Catholic newspaper La Croix last week that while “the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam’’, it was possible “to interpret the objective in Saint Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus sends disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest’’.
Archbishop Fisher was more diplomatic, saying the Pope’s view, probably reflected his Argentinian background and the negative aspects of the Christian Spanish Conquistadors’ conquest of Aztecs in the 16th century, and the ensuing “slavery, theft and patrimony’’.