ARCHBISHOP Mark Coleridge of Brisbane has appealed to the Liberal National Party to uphold a promise made before the recent Queensland state election to repeal the previous Government’s civil partnerships legislation.
However, the Archbishop at this stage has decided not to have a letter urging resistance to the legislation read out in churches throughout the archdiocese.
His comments followed last weekend’s distribution in some of Sydney’s Catholic, Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches of letters opposing legislation under consideration in Federal Parliament which would legalise same-sex marriage.
Churchgoers were urged to contact their Federal MPs to register their opposition to same-sex marriage.
Responding to questions from the media last weekend about whether he would distribute a letter to parishes on the Queensland civil partnerships legislation, Archbishop Coleridge said such a letter would run the risk of preaching to the converted.
He also noted the political climate in Queensland was quite different from “the situation in the south”.
“Instead I have contacted Premier Campbell Newman and parliamentary members of the LNP about the issue,” he said.
“The civil partnerships legislation is of a very particular kind, especially given that experience in some places suggests that there is a slippery slope from registration of civil partnerships to same-sex marriage.”
The Archbishop’s comments came after Premier Newman announced a compromise on the legislation, whereby a state-sanctioned ceremony option would be removed, but the rest of the same-sex civil union laws would stand.
Archbishop Coleridge said “the Catholic Church insists that there must be justice for all; there should be no second-class citizens”.
“The question is what that requires in law,” he said.
“It is not at all clear to me or to the Church I represent that it requires any kind of registration or civil partnership, let alone some kind of same-sex marriage.”
The Government’s decision to keep most of the civil union legislation passed by the previous parliament was the subject of further LNP discussions last week.
Following a meeting on Monday, Cleveland MP Mark Robinson, a conservative Christian, told reporters he personally believed the civil union legislation should be repealed, and he thought most Queenslanders also had “real concerns” about the Labor-initiated law.
The Australian Family Association (AFA) has also circulated what it claims is a “deceptive email response from the Premier’s office staff” to concerned citizens contacting their local MPs to oppose the decision.
The email reads: “You have been misinformed. We are removing all provisions in the Labor Party law that emulates marriage.â€¨The LNP does not support gay marriage.”
Katter’s Australian Party has already sought to capitalise on the alleged split within the LNP.
Katter’s Australian Party parliamentary leader Shane Knuth recently said he would move an amendment to repeal civil unions altogether and he expected the majority of LNP MPs would support this action.
The issue is also expected to come under vigorous discussion at the LNP Convention in Brisbane from July 13-15.
Archbishop Coleridge also discussed the recent removal of the state-sanctioned ceremony, noting it was “not true to say that the Catholic Church objects only to the element of a ceremony”.
“The Catholic Church is disturbed by anything that reduces traditional marriage to just one among a number of equally valid or invalid options; and registration, civil partnerships and same-sex marriage do that with differing degrees of intensity,” he said.
“To reduce marriage in that way would be to do a real disservice to the common good.
“The Church does not claim ownership of marriage, but we do have a strong sense of responsibility for the common good, which I do not doubt the Premier and his Government share.
“That is why I have contacted them, asking that they vote to repeal the civil partnerships legislation in toto.”