By Christian Bergmann
In one of our recent emails to Holy Family Parishioners, we brought their attention to a petition being passed around concerning Faith Equality in Victoria. Put together by Father Marcus Goulding and a pair of lay women, the intent of the petition was to signal to Premier Daniel Andrews that his ‘Roadmap’ was treating communities of faith unfairly. The purpose was not to demand special treatment by the government, but equal treatment. It makes little scientific or logical sense to insist that hospitality venues and swimming pools can open, but that churches and other venues of faith cannot open in a controlled and safe manner. Archbishop Peter Comensoli has pointed out that if a swimming pool is ‘COVID safe’ for a large number of public swimmers, why is a small gathering of people for the baptism of a single child considered unsafe? There is a clear disparity that seems to lack scientific basis.
At the time of writing this, this petition has garnered 12,792 signatures and has been tabled in Parliament. Whether or not Premier Andrews will act on this petition or his conversation with the Archbishop is unclear.
As someone who has worked in both the industry of hospitality and for the Church during this pandemic, I can attest that for the time people were allowed to return to Mass (for that blessed interim), we kept the church more COVID-safe than a dining venue ever could. Even with takeaway outlets, there’s a number of employees, chefs, food handling, a variety of surfaces that are difficult to clean on a regular basis, and hundreds upon hundreds of people passing through for coffee and food every single day. At Holy Family, we went to great lengths to keep the church sanitised and safe for our 10 parishioners at a time. If anything, it is my estimation that a church is the safest place one could be if someone is afraid of contracting COVID.
One of the benefits of living in a representative democracy like Australia is that we have the freedom and ability in the digital age to write to our local members in order to express our views. We have the incredible privilege of living in a time when our local leaders actually listen to the people in their community and heed their voices. This is something we often forget, but is well worth taking advantage of.
If you have the time, please consider sending an email or picking up the phone to your local MP and politely but firmly making the case for why faith communities should not be left behind as we come out of lockdown.
One of the flaws with a government that seeks to organise itself along the lines of ‘modelling’ and ‘data’ and ‘evidence’ and ‘expert advice’ is that the significance of faith communities for society is not fully appreciated. The Judeo-Christian tradition has been especially important in shaping Australia legally, politically and culturally, and not simply because it provides consolation in times of trial. It’s because the principles that undergird the tradition are true and they have helped pave the way for where we stand today.
Without these communities which provide centres of human connection and meaning, places where people can seek truth and worship, our country would be a lot poorer. This is only one of the reasons why they should not be left behind.
Write to your local MP. Make your voice heard.
For more details about Mount Waverley’s local MP, visit his website: https://www.mattfregon.com.au/contact/