LEGISLATION to permit same-sex marriage would have far-reaching effects on the fundamental institution of society that is marriage, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane has warned.
Queensland Catholic ethicist Dr Ray Campbell and Brendan Scarce, who is director of Brisbane Courage, an archdiocesan apostolate which ministers to those with same-sex attraction, supported the Archbishop’s comment.
The warning came after recent expressions of support for same-sex marriage by various political figures including Federal Labor MP Kevin Rudd and Queensland Liberal backbencher Wyatt Roy.
Dr Campbell said “the traditional understanding of marriage is based upon the nature of the human person and reason as much as on a particular religious faith”.
Archbishop Coleridge said “the family unit is one of the pillars upon which society has been built and one of the things upon which a flourishing society will always depend”.
“That is why the Catholic Church will always defend this concept of marriage and the current wording of the Federal Marriage Act,” he said.
Mr Scarce agreed the issue went beyond religion.
“You can’t get away from the biological sense of opposing same-sex marriage,” he said.
“For example, I’ve been thinking lately about how such arrangements don’t allow adequate male and female role modelling.
“Children in such relationships are going to miss out – either on the experience of having a father or a mother.”
Dr Campbell asked why the State was involved with defining the nature of marriage at all.
“The State really has no interest in who loves whom,” he said.
“That is a private matter.
“However, the State has a legitimate interest in its future citizens.
“So the State has an interest in nurturing marriage as a procreative communion, a communion which is naturally ordered towards the begetting and nurturing of children.”
Archbishop Coleridge said “the Catholic Church upholds the deep and enduring value of marriage and understands this as a genuinely nuptial union of a man and a woman”.
“This means a loving union which is open to producing children, for it’s there that we see most clearly and deeply how the human being shares in God’s creativity.”
Archbishop Coleridge also questioned arguments for same-sex marriage which placed it “within a line of liberations – from slavery, from racial discrimination and from gender prejudice”.
“The fight for same-sex marriage is of a very different kind,” he said.
“For homosexual people to be free from discrimination and injustice does not require a radical redefinition of marriage.
“The law already ensures justice for homosexual people.
“The ideologically driven push for same-sex marriage would be an injustice towards married couples and to society as a whole.”
Archbishop Coleridge addessed those whose criticism was that the Church’s stance was “coming from a literalist reading of the Bible”.
“In fact, the Church’s position is based upon a sophisticated and long pondered reading of what Scripture has to say about gender, sexuality, the nuptial significance of the body and what makes for the flourishing of human society,” he said.
“Such a reading is certainly not literalist.”
France recently became the 14th country in the world, and the ninth in Europe, to allow same-sex marriage and adoption rights.
Shortly after, more than 300,000 people marched through Paris to protest against the decision.
The first same-sex marriage in France was held on May 29 in Montpellier in front of a large audience of friends, family and media. Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau announced they intended to adopt a child.
New Zealand legalised same-sex marriage on April 17.
British lawmakers voted in favour of legislation allowing gay marriage in England and Wales on February 5.
The bill will be scrutinised by a committee, before passing to the upper chamber the House of Lords.