Chief Minister Jon Stanhope had been invited to give this year’s Rerum Novarum Lecture at the Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace on Friday 9-DEC-05 because of his stance on the terror laws and defiance of the Federal Government in posting the draft legislation on his website.
However, PM reports this invitation has been hurridly withdrawn after right-to-lifers made a fuss about Mr Stanhope’s role in legalising abortion.
Mr Stanhope received a letter which he told the ABC said “quite bluntly that unfortunately developments since [his being invited] have politicised the lecture with respect to life issues, as a result of which the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Reverend Denis Hart, has decided to withdraw the invitation to me”.
Mr Stanhope was to have spoken on a topic close to his heart, the development of an Australian bill of rights. However president of the ACT’s Right to Life campaign and of the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations Kath Woolf said this was entirely unappropriate as Mr Stanhope’s measures to make the ACT more abortion friendly ignore UN conventions on the rights of the unborn child. There were fears on the part of the lecture organisers that right to life protests may have caused an ugly scene on Friday.
“I think it’s misleading of him to present himself in that way or to give advice to others on the matter of human rights statements, because he has, in my opinion, completely corrupted Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” she told the ABC.
“And it was that that I said to Archbishop Hart, in view of his record, I think he’s the least appropriate person, actually, because people outside the church who don’t understand what’s happened, he should not be lecturing on how to go about a bill of rights, certainly not in a forum where it’s a formal address, it’s not a debate.”