Willetton parishioners stand with Perth Catholics in defending the seal of confession

09 Jul 2020

By Amanda Murthy

Willetton priests and a group of parishioners met with Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton to share about their efforts to defend the sanctity of the seal of confession. Photo: Ron Tan.

By Amanda Murthy

A group of Willetton parishioners have been among the first to answer the invitation from Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB to make a submission to the Western Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019.

Accompanied by Parish Priest Father Thai Vu and Assistant Parish Priest Fr Anthony Vu, the group met with Archbishop Costelloe and Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton on Tuesday 7 July, to provide a summary of their on-going efforts and to share the details of their experience, discuss resources, and take the opportunity to extend encouragement to the Archdiocesan Catholic community to do their part in addressing the pressing issue arising from the Community and Family Services Amendment Bill 2019.

Willetton parishioners, supported by their parish priests, have been the first to answer an invitation made by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB to make written parish submissions on matters relating to the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019. Photo: Ron Tan.

Last week, The Record reported on Archbishop Costelloe’s open letter to the Clergy, Religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Perth to advise that on 25 June 2020, the Legislative Council of Western Australia referred the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019 to a Committee of Inquiry. Responding to a ‘call in action’ from the Standing Committee on Legislation to lodge a formal submission by Friday, 24 July 2020, the Archbishop invited individuals and organisations to make submissions to the Committee with the closing date for submissions being Friday, 24 July 2020.

Fr Thai began by expressing his admiration of the parishioners for not only taking the approach of engaging at a parish level, but for further tackling the issue on an external parish level.

“Fr Anthony and I support their efforts for this submission, but the parishioners were really the front runners in this effort as they tirelessly approached many ministers on this matter, and until today, they continue to create awareness on the importance of protecting the seal of confession.”

Willetton Parishioners Edman Anthony, Howard Ong and Daryl Blakemore collectively agreed that it was the Archbishop’s open letter followed by a series of prayer sessions, research and the desire to defend what he regarded as ‘a form of persecution of faith’, that led the group to stand in solidarity with the leaders as one Church.

“Realising the importance of speaking up as laity, and not being able to turn a blind eye to an outcome that could have a huge impact on our faith, the clergy and Church as a whole, the group began by drafting a synopsis of the issue and circulating it to our parish community to spread awareness,” Mr Edman recounted.

“We then wrote to many local ministers expressing our stance and (after a series of events) with four days left for our submission, we went all out to get the congregation to sign the petition – gaining 700 signatures from Willetton parish and another 400 signatures from neighbouring parishes.

“Our priests organised 13 Masses that week in hope to get more signatures as well, and it was coincidentally the first week we had the 100 people limit, so you can see what I believe was the true work of God at hand,” he added.       

The group continues to spread awareness on the importance of making individual submissions, delivering talks in parishes across the Archdiocese.

Upon hearing from the group, Archbishop Costelloe commended the group for taking the lead in supporting the clergy of Perth and displaying the perfect example of what ‘One Holy Catholic Church’ means.

“Indeed, the Church isn’t made up of the Bishops or the priests, it is all of us together that make up one Church, one Body of Christ, and we (Bishop Don and I) are excited to learn about the steps you have taken,” Archbishop Costelloe stated.

“We are grateful for your courage and perseverance and for standing with us through what could sometimes seem lonely times for Bishops and clergy, in dealing with difficult situations pertaining to faith,” he said.

“There will be groups of people who are with us, there will be some people who are neutral towards this issue and are open to persuasion, and there will be some who passionately have a believe opposite to ours which we will have to respect.

“At the end of the day, it is amazing, regardless of the outcome, to know that we the people of God, have stood together in defending our faith, in recognising the importance of our faith,” His Grace concluded.

Bishop Sproxton echoed similar sentiments, adding that the voice of the lay faithful is extremely vital.

“I believe this was the work of the Holy Spirit – It is always impressive when the Church work together on an instance like this and I truly believe that this is an example of the way in which the Gospel is proclaimed,” Bishop Sproxton said.

“In many ways, the voice of the laity will be very powerful, because we are indeed one Church that make up the Body of Christ, and it is important for you all to know that you have the support of the Bishops in Perth in your efforts to advocate and push forward change and consideration on our common position of the Catholic Church,” he concluded.

Click Here for more information on making a submission.

For more information on the Inquiry Inquiry into the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019, Click Here

Read more information on the current progress of the bill by Clicking Here