Don't Mess With Marriage - a Pastoral Letter from Australia's Catholic Bishops

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 May 2015

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP

Catholic Bishops of Australia have written a pastoral letter to all Australians  as the debate  on same-sex  "marriage" gains momentum.

The Bishops want to highlight not only the meaning of marriage but the implications in redefining marriage.

The letter says at this time in history there is much discussion about the meaning of marriage. Some suggest that it is unjustly discriminatory not to allow people with same-sex attraction to marry someone of the same sex. Others believe that marriage is an institution uniting a man and a woman.

We wish by this pastoral letter to engage with this debate, present the Church's teaching to the faithful, and explain the position of the Catholic faithful to the wider community.

Because of this, every man, woman and child has great dignity and worth which can never be taken away. This includes those who experience same-sex attraction. They must be treated with respect, sensitivity, and love.

The Catholic Church opposes all forms of unjust discrimination. We deplore injustices perpetrated upon people because of religion, sex, race and age.

Released by the ACBC's  Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life, the letter says ;"We now face a struggle for the very soul of marriage."

Chair of the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said, "It is unjust, gravely unjust, to legitimise the false assertion that there is nothing distinctive about a man and a woman, a father or a mother; to ignore the particular values that real marriage serves; to ignore the importance for children of having a mum and a dad, committed to them and to each other for the long haul.
"Children have a right to grow up with their natural mother and father, where possible. We should not be redefining marriage so as deliberately to exclude a child growing up with either their mother, their father, or both their parents.
"If the civil law ceases to define marriage as traditionally understood, it will be a serious injustice and undermine that common good for which the civil law exists.
"Surely there are other ways of honouring the friendships of same-sex attracted and other people without further deconstructing marriage and the family," Archbishop Fisher said.

For the full "Don't Mess with Marriage" Pastoral Letter click here

The debate has gained momentum following Ireland's referendum in which 62 per cent of voters were in favour of changing the constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy Tanya Plibersek seized the initiative by announcing  plans for a Private Members Bill to change the Marriage Act.

However Prime Minister Tony Abbott has now set the conditions for a conscience vote in the Liberal Party room on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for a parliamentary vote as early as August on the proviso that any legislation must be lifted above party politics to be successful.

Mr Shorten's bill will still be tabled on Monday but there will be no debate c- instead thee will be a new cross-party approach, to be led by a government backbench MP with Labor backing.

Mr Abbott has said he still remains personally opposed to broadening the Marriage Act.