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Calvary signage was removed from the hospital early on Sunday morning (Catholic Voice)

With the ACT Government’s takeover of the former Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, many now wonder whether people of faith are even welcome in social, civic and government spaces, writes Patrick McArdle. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

As of Monday, Calvary Public Hospital no longer exists. Nearly half a century of service to Canberra by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary and those who inherited their ministry has ended in public health care.

Probably most tragically for those who share the Mission of Mary Potter, public palliative care is no longer available to those who are seeking a faith provider.

The ACT Government has asserted that this decision is about ownership and control, about integration and efficiency, about investment and accountability. It has stated repeatedly and emphatically that it is not about religion. People of faith have just been asked to take that, ironically, on faith.

ACT citizens have mixed reactions to this whole saga. For some, who do not believe that there is a place for “religion” in any service that involves government finances, it is a day of some satisfaction.

For people of faith, especially but certainly not exclusively Catholics, it is a day of sadness. There is strong sense of loss that goes beyond a government takeover of a public service entity.

There is a growing sense that there is a narrower and more confined space for those who profess faith to live their beliefs in the public sphere in Canberra, perhaps in the nation.

This is a city that celebrates ethnic and cultural richness; it celebrates its long indigenous heritage — in both instances as long as there is no mention of the divine or the often-intrinsic connections between belief and culture.

Some have opined that if 44 years of demonstrated valuable service to the community can be dispensed with for some claimed efficiencies in six weeks, then how soon before their religiously inspired service to their employer, to their community groups, to their fellow citizens can be dispensed with, too?

Professor Patrick McArdle is the chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn.


Faith’s freedom narrows after Calvary (By Professor Patrick McArdle, The Catholic Weekly)