Catch up on the news and views of interest to secular-minded Aussies from the past week. The push for voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania and Queensland is heating up. Plus, there’s a selection of opinion pieces on the latest with George Pell.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of the latest news on current issues, is also published on our Facebook page!

At the National Level

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish congregation is continuing to thumb its nose at authorities by holding group prayer sessions during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving traders and residents in a Melbourne neighbourhood fearing for their safety (Australian Jewish News).

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is investigating the promotion of an industrial bleach as a cure for COVID-19 by the Australian chapter of an international church (ABC).

The ‘healing church’ promoting the industrial bleach as a cure for the coronavirus has argued that it should be able to continue selling the product on the grounds of religious freedoms (The Guardian).

A group of NRL players are leading the code into a ‘religious freedom’ storm after stating that they would, due to their religious beliefs, refuse to get a flu shot before taking to the the field (News).

The Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and just.equal groups have launched a new campaign to highlight the potential harmful effects in health care of the Religious Discrimination Bill (Out in Perth).

The release of redacted pages of the royal commission’s inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse has revealed that George Pell knew of children being abused within the Archdiocese of Ballarat and that it was “implausible” that other senior church figures did not tell Pell abuse was occurring (The Guardian).

Cardinal Pell says he is surprised by some of the royal commission’s views about his actions as a priest and bishop’s adviser in Ballarat in the 1970s and 1980s, claiming that “these views are not supported by evidence” (In Daily).

Newly retired federal Labor MP Mike Kelly has told a Jewish news outlet that he is “pleased to have used parliament...to defend Israel” during his career and is proud for having fought for the Israeli cause within the party (Australian Jewish News).

One of the National Secular Lobby’s Ambassadors, high-profile barrister Julian Burnside, has announced his interest to replace retiring Greens senator Richard Di Natale (9 News).

The Australian Christian Lobby is calling on federal health minister Greg Hunt to support an inquiry into what it calls “the surge in gender-confused children” (ACL).

Around the Country

QLD: Independent member for Noosa Sandy Bolton has sought a commitment from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to introduce the recommended draft legislation to adopt voluntary assisted dying before the October election (Noosa News).

TAS: The Australian Christian Lobby’s Tasmanian branch has called on independent MP Mike Gaffney to “cancel” his plans to introduce assisted dying legislation this September because it argued what was need instead was a “statewide and national united front in addressing the COVID-19 crisis” (Catholic Weekly).

NSW: An LGBTIQ lobby group is calling for a full review of the state’s anti-discrimination act instead of the amendments proposed by One Nation’s Mark Latham (Star Observer).

Commentary and Analysis

In this video, LGBTIQ advocates Rodney Croome and Shelley Argent discuss what they think will happen with the Religious Discrimination Bill (Q News).

Rodney Croome writes that, in looking at the Religious Discrimination Bill through the lens of a pandemic, it is clear that religious-based hiring and an expanded ability to refuse service in the health and aged-care sectors are bad ideas (The Advocate).

The judges presiding over the five-year royal commission have repeatedly rejected the Cardinal George Pell’s evidence to it about the extent of his knowledge that other priests were paedophiles, writes Louise Milligan (ABC).

With the royal commission’s findings having provided an important acknowledgement of what the Catholic Church did to their community, survivor groups in Ballarat are continuing their path to recovery, writes Melissa Davey (The Guardian).

David Marr notes that most of the crimes were not historical but were happening around Pell as he began his long climb to the top (The Guardian).

While there were no surprises in the newly released information from the royal commission’s report, Timothy W. Jones writes that survivors of child sexual abuse may find comfort that the full details are finally publicly known (The Conversation).

Monica Doumit writes that much of the blame for horrific abuse in the Catholic Church has been misplaced on Cardinal Pell (Catholic Weekly).

Dr Philippa Martyr argues that it’s time to turn the spotlight away from the Catholic clergy and to the laity and their role in enabling abusers (Catholic Weekly).

In this editorial, The Age writes that the Catholic Church now has a chance to acknowledge its failures and to show the world that it can reform itself.

In this editorial, The Saturday Paper writes that the pages in the royal commission’s report about George Pell paint an image of a man who “took little interest in the plight of parishioners who confided to him about the abuses they suffered”.

In an interview with Nick Fabbri, Rationalist Society of Australia Fellow Paul Monk discusses his paper ‘Religion and Society: dilemmas of our time’.

John Sandeman assesses what the federal government’s new guidelines for the resumption of gatherings means for churches (Eternity News).

That's it for another week!

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