Muslim and Jewish footballers proving they're all of a peace

THE weather was perfect, the footy was good and the snags - both halal and kosher - were tasty when the match was over.

The MUJU Peace Club's first footy game with two teams called Unity and Harmony and each consisting equally of Muslim and Jewish youths was a winner. One of the organisers, 16-year-old Oussama Abouzeid, described the day as awesome. ''Just to see everyone happy and smiling is inspiring,'' he said. Another, 15-year-old Zoe Lipton, said she was amazed. ''I thought it might just be a kick in the park. I never thought this could happen.''

One man's life, and how the church he loved let him down

THERE have been few certainties in the complex and troubled world of John Hepworth. His childhood was seared by poverty, loneliness and aggression. From the age of seven, he says, he often fled this life for the comfort and absorption of prayer.

On his own admission, Hepworth, 67, was at times an arrogant and needlessly flamboyant young man who easily made enemies as he pursued his chosen path. These traits, he concedes, may have damaged him, too, fuelling a perceived vendetta that continues to this day.

But he was a man of God, he says, and he had a dream.

New choice for school chaplaincy program

FOR the first time since the introduction of the controversial national school chaplaincy program, schools will be able to choose whether to use their funding for a chaplain or a secular welfare officer.

Schools Minister Peter Garrett yesterday announced the changes to the Howard government program, saying funding would be extended to schools that want to employ student welfare officers instead.

The change will open up the program to schools that have chosen not to take up chaplains, such as Essendon Keilor College in Melbourne's north-west.

Denying gay marriage will only hurt the children

All families need to be treated equally, for the sake of the children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a treaty that enjoys almost universal support, having been ratified by 193 countries, including Australia. It provides that in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration.

Contrary to Nicholas Tonti-Filippini's assertion on this page yesterday, a proper application of the principle of the best interests of the child leads to the incontrovertible conclusion that Australia should legalise same-sex marriage.

Sex suspect 'protected'

PROMINENT members of the Melbourne Jewish community lied to the police, covered up an alleged sex scandal and protected a man accused of repeatedly molesting children from a school in St Kilda East, a court has been told.

Locksmith and security guard David Samuel Cyprys, 43, was yesterday charged with 16 counts of indecent assault and 13 counts of gross indecency claimed to have been committed between 1984 and 1991.

Radicals make the most noise, but so do empty vessels

Extreme viewpoints exist only as long as we give them a platform.

Church abuse victims call for government to step in

THIRTY victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Melbourne yesterday asked the Victorian government to investigate the church's handling of complaints, claiming it perverted the course of justice and bullied victims.

Upper house rejects inquiry bid

THE state government has rejected a motion from Greens MP Colleen Hartland to ask the Victorian Law Reform Commission to investigate legalising voluntary euthanasia.

Ms Hartland said she sought the investigation rather than try to introduce a new law because MPs would not support it without a thorough public consultation.

An investigation, she said, would give all Victorians an opportunity to be heard on the issue.
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Salesians 'accused journalist'

MEMBERS of the Salesian religious order, under fire for its handling of sexual abuse complaints, tried to discredit a journalist by falsely claiming he had spent time in jail for child sex offences, according to Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson.

Professor Parkinson, an expert on child protection, on Monday called for a public inquiry into the Catholic religious order's handling of three complaints of sexual abuse, including possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Catholic order 'suppressed report on child sex'

A LEADING child protection expert has urged the Victorian government to hold a public inquiry into the handling of child-sex cases by a religious order after the Catholic Church suppressed a report it asked him to write.

Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson yesterday wrote to Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark and Police Minister Peter Ryan seeking an inquiry into the behaviour of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

In his letter, Professor Parkinson says the Catholic Church's actions have cast doubt on its commitment to protect children before it protects itself.

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