The chapel without a crucifix
But a separate Muslim prayer room is OK
THE home of God at Royal North Shore hospital has fallen victim to a higher power - the State Government bureaucracy. The Mosman Daily has learnt that crucifixes, Bibles and all other Christian symbols are banned inside the hospital's chapel when it is not being used for a church service. The move, ordered by senior staff, is to avoid offending Muslims, Hindus or other non-Christian believers who may want to pray in the chapel.
Hospital staff say that while the chapel was built for Christians, they now want the chapel to be completely non-denominational. An inspection of the chapel last week by the Daily found no trace of a crucifix or any other religious symbol inside the chapel. The Daily has been told that church leaders must bring their own symbols to use in a service.
The chapel building also contains a separate Muslim prayer room.
Mosman Mayor Dom Lopez, a devout Catholic, said he was "outraged" to discover the rule when he was recently undergoing treatment at the hospital for bowel cancer. "When I was first told it I didn't believe it," Cr Lopez said. "When I was recovering, the Catholic priest came to see me and said, `It is true all the crosses are gone, somebody said we have to be a non-denomination church'. "That's just not right, it was built as a Christian chapel, now they (church leaders) have all to take all those things with them."
North Shore Liberal MP and Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said the decision was "bureaucratic madness". "It's crazy, absolutely crazy," she said. "I bet there was no pressure from the Muslim community, the Jews or anyone - it's just silly bureaucrats." Mrs Skinner said visitors to the chapel needed all the strength they could get and that symbols of God would provide that. "I actually think it's offensive to all faiths (and) it is silly bureaucratic rules," she said.
Cr Lopez agreed. "They have completely disenfranchised a Christian chapel," he said. "Being a Christian, I find a lot of power in prayer and I think a lot of people do whether they are Muslim, Jewish or whatever."
A hospital spokeswoman said the rule change came after "the chapel was enhanced with the provision of a Muslim prayer space in the loft area". "At that time the decision was made to display the symbols of each faith, for example the chapel's cross and Bible, during specific services and ceremonies only," she said. "These important religious symbols are appropriately stored and used regularly. This decision was made out of respect for the many faiths that make up both the hospital and also the modern Australian community."
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