Catholic schools send out political “form guide” to parents

PARENTS of local Catholic school students have received a State Election guide in school newsletters emailed to them.

It is understood some parents have lodged objections with their schools about the appropriateness of being sent a "form guide".

The guide includes information on where the three major parties stand on "abortion and protection of the unborn", euthanasia, marriage, Catholic schools and religious freedom, and has previously been inserted into Catholic church bulletins.

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The guide features a foreword by Bishop of Lismore Geoffrey Jarrett.

"This is the moment to cast our vote and, for us Christians, it means a vote in accordance with our conscience: that's a conscience tuned to the deepest truths, among other things the dignity of the human person, their right to religious freedom, the preciousness of life, marriage and the family, and the rights of parents to educate their children in a way that respects their religious and moral beliefs," he says in the foreword.

However, Bishop Jarrett's message is not appreciated by all his flock.

"Apparently there is a saturation campaign being conducted," said Neville Kelly, a Ballina resident and Labor party member who was among parishioners who objected to what they saw as an infringement of democratic rights.

"As a Catholic, I abhor this disgusting behaviour."

The principal of St Mary's Catholic College in Casino, Aaron Beach, said parents had received election information from the diocese in the past.

"We have had no feedback either way," he said. "I don't have any concerns with putting out anything from the bishop - it is his prerogative to give information."

The principal of Trinity Catholic College in Lismore, Brother John Hilet, where the guide was not received or sent because the school is independent, said he understood that every systemic Catholic school in the diocese had received the guide.

He believed parents needed to be informed about issues so they could "vote according to their conscience".

Attempts to contact Michael Vella, the principal of Xavier Catholic College in Ballina, for comment were unsuccessful.