Among terrorist attacks, mass shootings, tornados, hurricanes, flooding and other bad things that happened in 2017, Catholic bishop Anthony Fisher condemned the positive changes made in Australia this year by stating 2017 was an ‘annus horribilis’ — a horrible year. In his annual Christmas message, Fisher said:
At the end of another year the need for renewed hope unites us all. Like any year, this one has had its challenges for our world, our country, and each of us individually. For people of faith you might say it's been an annus horribilis, as our Christian conceptions of life and love have been challenged in the marriage and euthanasia debates; freedom of religion in Australia put in doubt; and shameful crimes and cover-ups in our Church uncovered by the Royal Commission.
In October, Anthony Fisher said about same-sex marriages that “the only kind of friendship the state has a proper interest in recognizing and regulating is heterosexual marriage, because that’s what leads to children — new citizens — and gives them the best start in life.” On December 7, 2017, the Parliament of Australia passes the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, legalizing same sex marriage in Australia. Giving more rights to all people in Australia should be something to be celebrated, not called a challenge.
In November, 2017, Victoria has become the first state in Australia to legalize assisted dying for the terminally ill, with MPs voting to give patients the right to request a lethal drug to end their lives from mid-2019. Patients must be over the age of 18, of sound mind, have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months and be suffering in a way that "cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable". Euthanasia is a solution for people who are terminally ill and a chance for them to end their suffering with dignity but Fisher also named it as one of reasons for a horrible 2017 year.
And, at the end, the Australian Royal Commission’s five year public inquiry into child sex abuse cases found that the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne have ignored, dismissed or covered up allegations of appalling child abuse by seven of its priests in order to protect the church’s reputation. What the Royal Commission has done is also to praise because the crimes that have been seized for years have finally been disclosed.
Fisher has also highlighted the moment of the year or ‘a star in the dark sky, light amidst the fears and failures’:
Christmas speaks of new hope.
In Sydney we had a glimpse of that hope on the faces of tens of thousands of young people who recently celebrated the Australian Catholic Youth Festival. We look forward to similar scenes throughout this year that marks 10 years since World Youth Day in Sydney.
Well, most reasonable people would agree that those three terrible things that made an annus horribilis for Australia are better than Fisher’s peak of the year.
Photo Credits: The Siver Times