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An unexpected 'anathema'

By Babette Francis - posted Friday, 24 August 2018

I have written letters to editors critical of Islamic terrorism, so I would not have been surprised if some radical Imam had issued a "Fatwa" (a ruling or condemnation) against me, but the condemnation when it came was from a totally unexpected source, and had nothing to do with Islam. To my astonishment it was a kind of "Anathema" pronounced on me by a Catholic bishop!

I became aware earlier this year that Catholic Bishop Tomlinson of Bendigo had discouraged a Catholic organisation in his diocese from inviting me as a speaker. When I queried him about this, he admitted in a letter that he knew I was a committed Catholic and pro-life, and that I would be hurt by his action, but he objected to the "manner in which I pursued my agenda".

Bishop Tomlinson has never met me, nor so far as I am aware has he ever attended any of the public meetings I have organised or at which I have been an invited speaker, many of the latter in Bendigo itself.


I explained in writing and by email to Bishop Tomlinson that I implemented my agenda through the Endeavour Forum Inc. Newsletters, public meetings at which one Catholic bishop or another has always been present and has been invited to say an Opening Prayer, articles in conservative outlets such as Quadrant Online, On Line Opinion, letters (published) to the editor of The Australian, and most important of all, organising "Parallel Events" (i.e. NGO workshops) on pro-life and pro-family issues in New York and Geneva during UN conferences relating to women's issues and population.

We are enabled to do this through our singular achievement in being the only Australian pro-life organisation which has special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. (The Catholic Women's League of Australia which is of course pro-life also has such accreditation but it is not a political organisation as is Endeavour Forum Inc.)

I received no acknowledgement or withdrawal of his objections to me from Bishop Tomlinson despite repeated requests that he explain what he objected to in my "manner" so that I could correct it if there was something sinful or offensive. I do not use bad language or swear words – the excellent education I received in convents in India gave me a vocabulary rich enough so that I do not need recourse to four letter words to explain what I mean.

I do not dress immodestly nor do I get inebriated. So what exactly does Bishop Tomlinson object to in my "manner"? He has made his objections both publicly and privately, yet refuses to explain what he means by "manner". He has not responded to emails and returns letters unopened.

Why is a Bishop allowed to name and publicly criticise the "manner" of a practising, pro-life Catholic, without explaining what he means by "manner"? Aren't the bishops of Australia under enough criticism about their failure to deal adequately with sexual abuse without one of them resorting to the irresponsible behaviour of returning letters unopened?

How did Bishop Tomlinson know that I was not also expressing concern about some incident of sex abuse? For the record I was not, but in the present climate where Bishops have been under severe criticism by a Royal Commission, it is the height of irresponsibility for them to return letters unopened.


Although I am a supporter of Right to Life Australia and Pro-Life Victoria, what I speak about is not primarily the sad incidence of abortion in Australia, but about Australia's dismal voting record at the UN on abortion-related issues and population control. When President Trump cut all funding for abortion and abortion-related services in US AID, our Foreign Minister immediately donated over $9million of our taxpayers' money to abortion-related services. This deplorable policy is reflected in Australia's lamentable voting record at the UN on pro-life issues.

This is what I speak about – and would like to speak about to the Catholic groups in the Bendigo diocese, so that they can be informed and lobby their local Federal MPs. My many invitations to speak in Bendigo have come from evangelical Protestant groups and there were also some Catholics who attended my talks, so it is sad and outrageous that a Catholic bishop is discouraging other Catholics from inviting me, returning my letters unread and refusing to explain what he finds objectionable in my "manner".

I have researched Bishop Tomlinson's CV and it appears he has little international experience, and none at the UN, unlike for example Bishop Peter Elliott. He seems to have little understanding of the scope of Endeavour Forum's work, local or overseas.

Catholic bishops have had a poor record in dealing with instances of sex abuse. It would be good if they concentrated on cleaning up the Augean stables so that such travesties never happen again. In the meantime the spiritual abuse to which I have been subjected by Bishop Tomlinson is hampering the efforts of Endeavour Forum Inc. and our hardworking Canadian team to witness for Life and Family at the UN and to provide this information to Australians.

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About the Author

Babette Francis, (BSc.Hons), mother of eight, is the National & Overseas Co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc. an NGO with special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the UN. Mrs. Francis is the Australian representative of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer - She lived in India during the Partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan, a historical event that she believes was caused by the unwillingness of the Muslim leaders of that era to live in a secular democracy.

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