Moving amongst us, ostensibly sharing our modern liberal society, are a group of people whose absurd medieval conception of existence continues unabated, and with an arrogant disdain for our collective values.

I speak of course of traditional Roman Catholics – who have infiltrated key areas such as the columns of News Limited, despite being part of an organisation that seriously debates the existence of a post-life realm known as “Limbo”, and believes its leader can promise reduced years in Purgatory to those who give up smoking.

The most powerful of these types is of course Tony Abbott, who as health minister, must preside over a field where soundness of scientific method is essential, and yet presumably – if he’s any sort of rockchopper – believes in the existence of miracles and the direct intercession of God.

Of course, you have to have a strong faith indeed to believe that the rather calculated shenanigans of the church around the question of miracles is divinely inspired – despite the rule of a five year gap between death and beatification, saint-hunters are already looking for a miracle for Pope John II, including one that he may have performed, erm, posthumously.

When an organisation breaks its own hallowed codes to keep the good PR rolling, you know it’s in trouble – nevertheless, people like Abbott differentiate themselves from other Catholics by their belief in its literal truth.

So, in the light of the Gardasil controversy, don’t we have a right to know the detailed beliefs of the man who’s deciding how to spend billions of health dollars? Does he actually believe that strong prayer and Catholic beliefs can stop cancer and does that affect his thinking about its treatment?

For centuries the church taught that women, via Eve, had introduced sin into the world – does this shape Abbott’s thinking about whether a cervical cancer vaccine is a neutral medication, or actively encourages mortal sin that would otherwise not occur?

It’s time we knew what sort of medieval, anti-enlightenment beliefs are shaping the health system used by 20 million Australians.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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