You may have heard of, or perhaps watched yourself, Andrew Denton’s recent contribution to the debate about legalising euthanasia.
For the most part, his address to the Australian Press Council was thoughtful, because Denton is a thoughtful and intelligent man. He did, however, reveal defective thinking (or something worse: pernicious illiberalism) in his call for the religiously minded to disqualify themselves from the national debate.
Peter Kurti presents a good summary and rebuttal in the latest Australian edition of The Spectator.
‘I urge you, step aside,’ Denton said, directing his remarks at those ‘whose beliefs instruct you that only God can decide how a human being should die.’ If you’ve got religion, in other words, sit down, shut up, and don’t be a pest.
This is the new sectarianism where all Christian traditions are equally unacceptable. When it comes to making medical decisions about who can die and when, the new sectarians apparently already know everything there is to know about human suffering. Those who agree with them are welcome to speak up; but any with opposing views must remain silent.
Meanwhile, Fr Richard Umbers has been on retreat at the beautiful Brooklands Retreat Centre in New Zealand. I very much doubt he was even aware of Denton’s proposal when he posted this video on Sunday, but his remarks on faith are very pertinent:
. . that consideration on a retreat of faith, hope and charity: what we have as Christians to offer our society. Faith which is a light: it helps us to see the world in a very different way. It’s a gift God gives us, to see things from His perspective — the meaning of suffering; the meaning of our lives . . .
Since concluding his retreat, Fr Richard has returned to Sydney, where he will be ordained a bishop on Wednesday. Judging from his online activity in recent weeks, Fr Richard will quickly become the most prolific Australian bishop on the Internet:
Keep him, and Msgr Tony Randazzo, in mind on Wednesday evening. Maybe we can pray Fr Richard never forgets his mum’s sage advice:
“Just remember: you’re only Richard Umbers.”