Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has written to all NSW MPs asking for assistance with his call on the state government to reverse its decision to dismiss faith-based operators from the management of cemeteries.

The Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (CMCT), which manages cemeteries at Rookwood, Liverpool, Kemps Creek and North Rocks, had its 28 May termination delayed for one week following the shock decision.

In his letter, the archbishop wrote that for four years, religious groups including the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, have been in consultation with the Government in relation to the issues currently facing Sydney cemeteries. They include an urgent lack of burial space, the need for sufficient funds for ongoing maintenance, and the need for affordable funerals and burials.

The Catholic Church “has offered solutions to the Government that would address these issues immediately and at no cost to the Government or taxpayer”, the archbishop wrote.

“These solutions were supported by other Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith groups, who have, for generations, trusted CMCT to offer burials that respect their religious rituals, show reverence to the bodies of their deceased, and offer solace to the grieving.

Last week CMCT board chairman Greg Smith slammed the decision as “terribly disrespectful” and an attack on religion. He told The Catholic Weekly that the takeover would mean a rise in the cost of burials and a gradual loss of $500 million in tax deductions that the trust would generate through its charitable not-for-profit status.

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