Anti-Catholic booklet targets worshippers

DISAPPOINTED: Sacred Heart Cathedral's Monsignor Frank Marriott holds the booklet that was left on his and other parishoners' cars. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

DISAPPOINTED: Sacred Heart Cathedral's Monsignor Frank Marriott holds the booklet that was left on his and other parishoners' cars. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

THE Catholic Church in Bendigo has called for an apology after anti-Catholic booklets were placed on cars outside churches across the city as worshippers prayed inside. 

The 24-page booklet, with the title 'Are Roman Catholics Christians', questions whether Catholicism is a legitimate Christian faith.

The booklet is from an American company called Chick Publications.

The booklet questions certain values and church doctrine and says the religion is not in-line with Christian theology.

Chick Publications was founded in 1961 by Jack Chick, an American Christian of fundamentalist origins, and sells booklets, DVDs and books across the world. 

The company has attracted controversy for its criticism of other cultures and religions and has been labelled a 'hate group' by a leading American anti-discrimination organisation, the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

The individual or group in Bendigo responsible for disseminating the booklet is unknown.

I think their personal faith time has been violated and in many ways they deserve an apology. - Monsignor Frank Marriot

Sacred Heart Cathedral's Monsignor Frank Marriott said parishioners at all churches under his jurisdiction, including himself, had been targeted.

He said whoever was responsible had deliberately acted during mass times and left the booklets on cars parked inside church grounds and on the street.

"I'm quite aware of the hurt that many people felt in receiving that publication and in receiving it while they were at church praying," Monsignor Marriott said.

"I think their personal faith time has been violated and in many ways they deserve an apology."

Monsignor Marriott said he would be happy to discuss with anyone why Catholics were defined as Christians.

Member of St Therese's in Kennington, Heather Slater, said she was concerned about "religious vilification".

"I've lived in Bendigo all my life and have never seen this here," Ms Slater said.

The only Christian bookstore in Bendigo, Word Bookstore, said they had no recent record of purchases of the booklet.

The Environmental Protection Authority's litter enforcement policy states it is an offence to deposit flyers and other material on vehicles without consent of the owner - with the exception of parking infringement notices.

Local police say a $289 fine can be given for the offence, with a much larger fine of $1440 for instructing others to do it.

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