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    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Prepared to go to hell

    A Sydney lawmaker from the ruling Labor Party, Tony Stewart, a Catholic, said Wednesday he was prepared to go to hell rather than oppose the legislation, which he said would save many lives.

    Opposition lawmaker Adrian Piccoli, also a Catholic, said there would be "outrage" if an Islamic cleric told Muslim lawmakers how to vote.

    "The vast majority of Catholics don't believe that the church should influence politics and politicians," Piccoli told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

    The bill would bring Australia's most populous state into line with federal law. The federal Parliament lifted a ban on therapeutic cloning last year.
    The Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, gave the warning to lawmakers Tuesday ahead of a debate in the New South Wales state Parliament on Wednesday over a bill that would lift a ban on the splicing of DNA from skin cells into human eggs to produce stem cells for medical research.
    State Premier Morris Iemma and his deputy, John Watkins, are the highest-profile practicing Catholics who have announced their support for the bill.

    Pell said he might refuse to give Iemma, who lives in Sydney, the sacrament of communion during Mass if the premier supports the bill.

    "It is a serious moral matter and Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realize that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church," Pell told reporters Tuesday.

    Pell said he was not threatening to excommunicate lawmakers _ the most serious possible sanction, in which a Catholic is cut off from the church.

    Iemma said he had not met any Catholic lawmaker who would be swayed by Pell's threat.
    Piccoli says there would be "outrage" if an Islamic cleric told Muslim lawmakers how to vote. I doubt it. Religious leaders tell their followers how to live, and voting is a small part of how we live. Perhaps Piccoli has not heard a sermon in a long while.
    He does present an interesting contrast though regarding how we would accept the same specific instructions in muslim circles. One small difference though is that muslims leaders are always calling for war and veils, and Catholics are talking about protecting life and babies.
    Poor Tony Stewart who is prepared to go to hell. Such a long term commitment.


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