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20 September - 27 September

The Vatican signs a landmark agreement with China, where severe repression of Christians continues; former Governor-General Bill Hayden renounces atheism and is baptised; and the case for bolstering Australian religious freedom

September 27 2018Vatican signs deal with China as crosses burn

China has intensified its crackdown on religion, with images emerging of crosses being burned and destroyed at Christian churches.

The crackdown continued even as the Vatican signed an agreement giving it a say in the appointment of bishops in China, though critics labelled it a sell-out to the Chinese Government.

 

Former Governor-General Bill Hayden, 85, baptised

Bill Hayden, at age 85, has ­renounced his atheism and been baptised into the Catholic Church.

The former Labor leader and Governor-General said it was witnessing so many selfless acts of compassion by Christians over his lifetime, and deep contemplation while recovering from a stroke, that prompted his decision.

 

Why Australian religious freedom needs bolstering

Debate over Australia’s forthcoming religious legislation continues, with many commentators arguing that religious freedom is a burden on human rights that needs to be curtailed.

Michael Bird, academic dean and lecturer in theology at Ridley College, Melbourne, argues instead why we need to bolster our religious freedom laws.

 

Uniting Church evangelicals rebel over gay marriage

The fallout continues over the Uniting Church’s decision to introduce a rite for gay marriage.

The conservative lobby group within the Church - the Assembly of Confessing Congregations - has proposed a “replacement” governing assembly, a separate college for the training of ministers, and the creation of alternative presbyteries.

 

Melbourne church prays for local businesses, with amazing response

A church in the Melbourne suburb of Diamond Creek has adopted a Love Your Neighbours program that encourages people in the church to pray for a local business for a year.

The responses, according to the Ethos Centre for Christianity and Society, have been “amazing”.

 

Australian female Christian leaders gather in Canberra

An ecumenical group of female leaders from across Australia’s Churches and Christian organisations have gathered in Canberra for an advocacy visit.

In addition to advocating for justice and care for the world’s poor, the group will meet with senior ministers and members of parliament from both of the country’s major political parties.

 

The shocking treatment in aged care facilities

Recent airing of shocking treatment of elderly residents in Australian aged care facilities has led Prime Minister Scott Morrison to announce a royal commission. Sadly, however, the allegations of abuse and appalling conditions in nursing homes are not new.

What has caused such poor outcomes for vulnerable citizens, and why have we permitted such treatment to go on?

 

Concern over sale of Tasmanian Anglican graveyards

Many Tasmanian families face uncertainty over the planned sale of Anglican churches and cemeteries around the state. In response, the State Government has released draft legislation with amendments to the Burials Act.

The Anglican Church plans to sell off more than 100 properties, partly to fund redress for survivors of sex abuse, and will shortly finalise its asset sale list.

 

Archbishop Welby visits Texas, addresses vocation conference

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has visited the Texas School Book Depository – the site from which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated then-US President John F Kennedy on 22 November 1963 – and addressed a vocations conference.

In “a world of puzzlement and confusion”, he said, preaching the Gospel was like turning on car headlights in the fog. “All you see is reflection without illumination”.

 

Why turning off Twitter might be a good thing

Has social media become too much?

A recent study reveals 42 per cent of American Facebook users have taken a break from the platform in the past year, indicating that people are starting to put up boundaries. Advocates for digital detoxes, such as holidaying without an internet connection, say that deactivating social media accounts is “the best thing you can do”, claiming that their “mind has never been so clear”.