AS battle lines deepen over whether Australians voters should oppose or support same-sex marriage, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has advised of the importance of upholding traditional marriage.
“This debate is about the meaning of marriage, and that’s why it’s important that everyone have their say in the postal vote,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote in a pastoral letter, which is published in full on the Brisbane Archdiocese’s website and in The Catholic Leader’s September 10 edition.
“I’ll be voting No, not because I wish ill of any kind on those in same-sex unions, but because I think it’s the only way available of affirming values which are fundamental to true human flourishing.”
Irrespective of whether Australians decide the matter by postal vote, plebiscite or by MPs voting in parliament, Archbishop Coleridge’s pastoral letter offers a respectful analysis of the key issues surrounding same-sex marriage.
“Marriage has always been regarded as essentially social, binding families together in new configurations and serving as the basic cell in constructing a human society which has a future,” he wrote.
“Marriage is a social institution. That’s why it’s important to speak of the common good when speaking of marriage; it’s also why same-sex-marriage ideology focuses much more on supposed individual rights than on the common good.”
Pope Francis also counselled on qualities of traditional marriage in a series of interviews with French sociologist Dominique Wolton.
“By virtue of its very definition, marriage can only be between a man and a woman,” Pope Francis is quoted as saying in a 417-page book, Politics and Society, published in French.
“We cannot change it. This is the nature of things.
“When it comes to the true nature of marriage as well as gender, there is ‘critical confusion at the moment’.”
Asked about marriage for same-sex couples, Pope Francis said, “Let’s call this ‘civil unions’. We do not joke around with truth.”
Teaching children that they could choose their gender, Pope Francis said, also played a part in fostering mistakes about the truth or facts of nature.
Pope Francis said he wondered whether these new ideas about gender and marriage were somehow based on a fear of differences, and he encouraged researchers to study the subject.
Brisbane Oratory priest and judge and associate judicial vicar for the Regional Tribunal, Fr Adrian Sharp, said it was important not to lose sight of the facts that, “people with same-sex attraction … are in the Church and they need to be cared for like everyone else in the Church.”
“But, the correct way to do that is to help people with same-sex attraction to live chastely – that’s the teaching of the Catholic Church,” Fr Sharp said.
“In this whole debate there are people who are saying the Church is not treating people with respect, but that is not the case.
“It is just that we have a particular vision for human sexuality.
“Marriage belongs between a man and a woman.”
Fr Sharp said the Church view of marriage could seem “certainly different” to the prevailing view in the world” and the Church made no apology for that.
“And yes, people will call us ‘out of step’ and ‘irrelevant’, but the Church doesn’t just change its view because the world around it may change. We stick to what Christ has taught,” he said.
Despite some dissenting voices from within the Church during the debate, the national chairman of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, Fr Scot Armstrong, said his members stood behind public statements made by members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.