The Victorian Government has reversed Department of Health and Human Services advice banning faith leaders from visiting dying people in hospitals and aged care facilities to administer last rites. Source: The Australian.
The about-face comes after The Australian last week revealed Melbourne’s Catholic priests were giving dying parishioners the last rites in defiance of the Andrews Government’s stage-four restrictions.
Until Friday, Department of Health and Human Services questions and answers on Melbourne’s current stay-at-home restrictions stated: “Under Stage Four restrictions, faith leaders cannot visit someone in a hospital or care facility for last rites or to perform other religious ceremonies in person.”
“Last rites and religious ceremonies can be provided using video or livestreaming.”
On Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the Government would reverse the advice. He said he spoke with Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli about the issue earlier that day.
In a statement, Archbishop Comensoli expressed gratitude for Mr Andrews’ confirmation that ministers of religion may visit the sick and the dying.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the Catholic community has been transparent in its application of Government restrictions, however hard going this has been, and that our commitment to the common good and the law is maintained,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
“However, when a law or restriction unfairly treats a religious community, it raises questions for members of that community. In this case, I was pleased to enter into a constructive dialogue, and the Premier very quickly responded to an obvious problem.”
Andrews government grants last rites visits (By Rachel Baxendale, The Australian)
Caring for those facing sickness and death: Statement from Archbishop Comensoli (Melbourne Catholic)