The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, has launched a petition opposing a new government plan to bring all cemeteries under state control, which would end the Church’s role in caring for the graves of Catholics in New South Wales.
“This decision will end the involvement of faith groups in the management and operation of cemeteries in favor of a secular government run bureaucracy,” Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, told his priests in a May 27 letter.
“This will bring to an end more than 150 years of the Church’s role in burying the dead, upkeep of graves and support to grieving families.”
“Caring for the dead is a spiritual mission, not secular,” the archbishop added. “Our faith teaches that it is one of our ‘corporal works of mercy’ and this underpins the way we look after our cemeteries. The government seems to only really recognise cemetery property as a monetary asset without sensitivity to its spiritual element or the wishes of the families of the deceased.”
Fischer said the measure, announced May 25, will consolidate the management of all cemeteries, which are considered public land, under one “multi-faith, multi-disciplinary skills-based board,” to be created by the government.
The archbishop urged priests and Australian Catholics to oppose the measure,
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