Listen: Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher explains the Red Mass and talks Religious Freedom with Stephen O’Doherty
Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has called for Australia’s legal professionals to uphold the right to religious freedom – especially in the midst of growing militant secularism.
In his homily at the Red Mass, held in Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral to mark the beginning of the 2018 legal term, Archbishop Fisher spoke of the growing threats to the expression or religious ideals in Australia today.
“The pressure is on to eradicate Judeo-Christian ideas such as the sanctity of life and love from our laws and customs, to inoculate people to faith or make them embarrassed or secretive about it, and to enforce a kind of practical agnosticism on the whole community,” he said.
The Archbishop emphasised the crucial role lawmakers have in our society: “Our law makers, judges, practitioners, teachers and students play an essential role in our community and rightly seek a higher wisdom to serve true justice and mercy”.
The tradition of the Red Mass stretches back to the Middle Ages, invoking the Holy Spirit to guide the exercise of justice by the legal profession and those holding public office. The Red garments are both the traditional colour of the Judges’ robes and the colour worn by Priets for Masses of the Holy Spirit.
It has been celebrated in Sydney since 1931 and is partly organised by the St Thomas More Society, a society of Catholic legal professionals who take inspiration from the martyred English lawyer who strove to uphold justice at all costs.
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The Archbishop said that now, more than ever, St Thomas More is relevant to Catholics who uphold their faith in the public domain.
“The militant secularism in the air at the moment, like colonialism, sectarianism, racism and sexism in the air at other times, threatens to unravel Australian respectfulness in religious matters and historic balances between Church and state,” he said.