Gab brought this homily by Fr Marcus Goulding to my attention at the beginning of the week. I’ve included both the video and written version of the homily below.
I look forward to the day I do not need to preach against the policies and decisions of our current state government. That day is not this day.
Summary of the Pandemic Management Amendment Bill
So far, the government has been managing the COVID pandemic using the powers granted to it under the State of Emergency. These powers expire in December and cannot be renewed. Consequently, if the government wants to continue to enforce the many COVID rules with which we have become so familiar (such as the wearing of masks, mandatory vaccination, density limits and attendance caps), it needs to create a new set of powers for itself with new legislation. So, this week, the state government announced that they were bringing just such a new bill to parliament called the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021.
- Section 165AB of the Bill enables the Premier of the day to declare a pandemic without reference to a vote in parliament. It allows the Premier to make a “pandemic declaration” even if a “pandemic disease is not present in Victoria”.
- Under section 165AI, once the Premier makes a “pandemic declaration”, the Health Minister will have the power to make what are called “pandemic orders”. The Bill defines a “pandemic order” as “any order that the Minister believes is reasonably necessary to protect public health.” In practice this means the Health Minister can do anything he personally deems necessary to protect public health. The Bill lists some of the orders a Health Minister might like to make: orders requiring the detention of persons, orders restricting movement, orders regulating public or private gatherings, orders requiring provision of personal information, and orders requiring testing and medical examination of persons.
- Section 165AK of the Bill enables the Health Minister to make orders that “differentiate or vary in application to persons or classes of persons as defined in the Equal Opportunity Act.” In other words, the Health Minister would have the power to make orders of unlimited scope for specific classes of people, such as the unvaccinated, the partially vaccinated, the chronically ill, religious or ethnic groups, people of certain sexualities, or people of certain political persuasions, if he, in his personal opinion, believed these groups to be a threat to public safety.
- Section 165BA of this Bill also gives the Health Minister the power to make orders requiring the detention of persons indefinitely without access to a court for reasons other than quarantine.
- Finally, the Bill imposes fines of up to $90,000 or two years imprisonment on individuals found breaching the Health Minister’s orders, as well as fines of up to $450,000 on businesses or organisations found breaching the Health Minister’s orders.
Twenty-five QCs have published an open letter in The Age expressing their grave concerns about the content of this Bill. In their letter, these Queens Council explain that the Bill will “allow the Victorian government effectively to rule the State of Victoria by decree for the foreseeable future, without Parliamentary oversight or the usual checks and balances on executive power.”
In summary, this Bill practically grants the Premier and Health Minister unlimited power over the State of Victoria for as long as they like, so long as they, in their personal opinions, decide that Victoria is merely at risk of experiencing a pandemic. If the government did not intend to use these powers, they would not have developed this Bill. Mark my words, if this Bill passes parliament, the Premier will mobilise these powers the moment the state of emergency ends.
Means of opposing the Pandemic Management Amendment Bill
This Bill passed the Legislative Assembly, Victoria’s lower house of parliament, on Thursday, with the support of your local member of Parliament Steve McGhie. It will now be considered by the Legislative Council (the upper house), who will vote on it in two to three weeks. The government requires the support of several cross-bench MPs to pass this Bill through the upper house. On Thursday, I wrote to every member of the upper house to express my serious concern about this Bill. In these letters, I remind our parliamentarians that:
The Australian Westminster system is designed so that no single person or party can exercise complete control over our society. No threat to our welfare, however grave, can justify the sort of powers that the Premier proposes to grant himself and his health minister. Not even in the world wars did our leaders deem it necessary to ascribe such powers to themselves. This proposed legislation is a threat to the very fabric of our free and democratic society.
On Friday, I wrote to our local MP Steve McGhie after he supported the Bill in the lower house. To Steve McGhie I wrote:
Your support for this legislation demonstrates that you are not fit for office. There are some matters that have a higher claim on members of parliament than party politics. The integrity of our free democracy is one such matter. You have no excuse for taking a party-political line on this legislation. Be advised that, on a regular basis from now until the election next year, I will be reminding our parishioners that you supported this legislation.
Brothers and sisters, you, too, must write to our parliamentarians. I have placed some preliminary resources on our website and will continue to update them over the next couple of days. All you need do is indicate your opposition to the new pandemic legislation. We must write to our parliamentarians; writing, alone, however, is not enough.
Yesterday I attended a protest against this Bill in the city along with two brother priests, a few parishioners, and thousands of other Victorians. It is important that people demonstrate their opposition to this Bill with their physical presence. The protest was passionate but peaceful. I am sure there will be more protests in the next week or two. I encourage you to consider attending one. Still, I do not believe that even public protest is enough to stop this Bill.
Wake up: we are in a spiritual war
Today, people speak a lot about being “woke”. Broadly speaking, being “woke” means that you are “awake” to injustice. It is time that we wake up! Open your eyes! We are in a spiritual war between God and Satan for every human soul. This war has been raging since the fall of Adam and Eve and continues to rage in different manifestations in every time and place. The war is raging particularly fiercely in Victoria at this time. From this spiritual perspective, we can see that this Bill is an instrument of Satan because of the sweeping powers it grants the Premier and Health Minister over every aspect of life.
Against Satan stands the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He has already won the decisive victory against the forces of Satan and He provides us with the tools and weapons we need to share in and extend His victory. As we heard in Psalm 17, “My God is… my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.”
The first weapon Jesus gives us is His Law: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength… [and] You must love your neighbour as yourself.” If we live according to God’s Law, we know that Jesus is victorious in us. If we do not live according to God’s Law, Satan is victorious in us.
The second set of weapons Jesus gives are the sacraments. The sacraments provide us with the graces we need to live God’s Law. One sacrament, above all the others, is of critical importance in this spiritual war: the sacrament of confession. How many excuses we make to avoid going to confession: I don’t know what to say, I don’t have anything serious to say, I am too embarrassed, I don’t know what to do… These excuses will not cut the mustard at your judgment. We all sin every day in one way or another. Get over it. Jesus has gone to the trouble of suffering and dying to offer you mercy and forgiveness. If you don’t know what to say or do, pick up a book, search the internet, or ask the priest. Start going to confession regularly, once a month or more. For the Baptised, the sacrament of confession is our most potent weapon against Satan.
Our third weapon is prayer. We must pray, pray, pray that this Bill does not pass. In particular, let us pray the Rosary daily until this Bill is voted on in the upper house. Mary has promised us that her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of her Son will triumph.
This is a magnificent homily and an example of fearless pastoral leadership. You can find the information he referred to near the end here.