Melbourne, Australia, Mar 20, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The parliament of the Australian state of Victoria is considering a proposal to end the convention of beginnings daily sessions with the Our Father. The prayer has been a fixture of proceedings for more than a century.
The proposal is being reviewed by a committee of the upper house of the parliament, the Victoria Legislative Council, after referral by Gavin Jennings, Special Minister of State for the Labour Party government.
The Our Father is currently recited during legislature proceedings in the Australian federal parliament and the parliaments of every state and province. In the assembly of the Australian Capital Territory, a jurisdiction similar to the District of Columbia, a moment of silent reflection is held.
According to a March 20 report by 9 News, Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews – who is Catholic – has indicated he is open to the proposal, as is Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Consumer Affairs and also a Catholic.
“If we need to share other prayers and recognize other religions or other traditions I am more than happy to consider that,” she said.
The plan has also been welcomed by the leader of the Reason Party, Fiona Patten, who called the plan “a nod to how diverse the Victorian parliament is.”
The Our Father has been recited daily in the Victorian legislature since 1918. Last year a Senate inquiry in the Australian federal parliament rejected a similar call led by Green Party MPs.
According to 9 News, the state of Victoria has the highest non-Christina affiliation rate in the country, more than 10 percent.
Anti-Christian, and anti-Catholic sentiment in particular, has been a much-discussed topic both in the state and nationwide. A Royal Commission report last year uncovered decades of incidences of child sexual abuse by personnel in Church-run institutions in the country.
The verdict to convict Cardinal Pell, formerly Archbishop of Melbourne, by a Victoria court last year has come under sustained criticism in some quarters of the national media, with many questioning if anti-Catholic sentiment, conditioned by years of negative media coverage of the Church, may have tainted public opinion – including the jury pool.
In the neighboring state of South Australia, the conviction of former Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson was overturned on appeal when a judge found anti-Catholicism had played a determining factor in the initial decision.