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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

  • 31 March 2017
  • Hyatt Regency Sydney

His Grace, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP returned to an eager audience at the Hyatt Regency two years after his first Sydney Catholic Business Network speaking engagement.

It seems incredible that even well into the 21st century there should still be the need to speak about safeguarding our democracy, whether it’s our social, political, religious or personal freedom.  Archbishop Fisher’s presentation reminds us that we need to be constantly vigilant to ensure that we lose none of the things we’ve worked hard to achieve that legitimise our claim to be a forward-thinking, compassionate society.

We all agree that people should be able to exercise their right to live as they choose. In our haste to right past wrongs, however, we also need to take care not to suppress other people’s right to express their opinion even if this happens to be contrary to our own, thereby creating a different brand of oppression.  Aligning one’s self with what’s considered ‘traditional’ can at times elicit a negative consequence in the political or business arena – even to the extent that organisations exceed the limits of their authority and use their financial or political clout not just to influence policies or debates, but to effectively push people out.  This is hardly the mark of an equitable society.

We easily tire of politicians we deem ineffectual or bad, shifting our allegiance and demanding change at the first sign of trouble.  Yet this penchant for discarding them also means that few of them are brave enough to go against popular public opinion and make bold decisions; fearmongering triumphs over optimism.

The media in its various forms has always played a role in defending the weak, highlighting the neglected and shaming the oppressor.  On the other hand, its potency in disseminating information also means that those behind it and those who wield it need to be accountable at all times.

Archbishop Fisher also challenges us to be agents of change.  The Sydney Archdiocese has announced that it’s taking practical steps to counter the evils of human trafficking, an unfortunate reality for too many people worldwide.  Each one of us has the means to change the world for the better, starting in our own backyard.

He reminds us that the principles on which contemporary democracy has been built are the very same that can be found in Christian teachings; there are some things that we as a people should never abandon in our constant quest for equality and liberty.  Ultimately, true freedom only exists in the fundamental acceptance of our differences.