Monday, October 30, 2006

Australian Catholic Church Skeptical Over Government Funding For Chaplains

In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard is backing a $90 million national school chaplaincy program. Under the program, both public and private schools will be able to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to employ chaplains who will promote values and mentor students. The Age yesterday reported that the originator of the proposal, Liberal MP Greg Hunt, says that church-state issues are avoided because acceptance of government money will be purely voluntary, as will be any student's decision to consult a chaplain. However Catholic school officials are expressing caution over provisions requiring federal government approval of chaplains who are hired. Catholic News today quotes the head of New South Wales Catholic Education Commission who calls a government veto over Catholic school staff "unprecedented".