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Catholic school closures would risk overwhelming the public system, with more than 800,000 students currently educated in the Catholic system (Bigstock)

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has warned the Church will be forced to consider closing religious schools if the government strips them of the ability to preference the employment of teachers supportive of Christian teachings. Source: The Australian. 

Archbishop Fisher said more radical actions could be needed in response to the infringement of religious liberties, and raised the prospect of withdrawing educational services as happened in the landmark 1962 Goulburn school strike.

He told The Weekend Australian on Friday the closure of Catholic schools should be considered “if we were told we were not allowed to take religion into account in who we employ, or in the ethos of our schools, which is quite a push at the moment”.

Catholic school closures would risk overwhelming the public system, with National Catholic Education Commission figures showing there were more than 800,000 students being educated at more than 1750 Catholic schools across the country.

Archbishop Fisher also suggested that Catholic hospitals could be forced to consider similar action if they were required to perform abortions or other procedures that were “deeply troubling ethically”. 

He noted the Church had “pulled out of adoption in many countries because they weren’t allowed to choose a married couple as the parents”.

But he made clear he was not supporting such an approach for the time being, acknowledging it was risky and could “easily backfire”.

The threshold point for more radical moves would be triggered if the government removed the protections for religious schools around the hiring of teachers, with Labor facing warnings its draft religious discrimination reforms would do exactly this.

Faith-based educators are in open revolt against draft laws that would remove section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act which contains exemptions allowing schools to preference teachers who share the same spiritual ethos as the school.

New protections would be inserted into a separate Religious Discrimination Act but faith-based educators say they are insufficient.


‘Crunch point’ on religious freedom: Catholic schools and hospitals may close, warns Anthony Fisher (By Joe Kelly, The Australian


Archbishop warns to never take religious freedom for granted (The Catholic Weekly)