AUSTRALIA’S Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter Don’t Mess With Marriage has been issued to parishes around the nation as the push for same-sex marriage legislation continues.
“We now face a struggle for the very soul of marriage,” the letter said.
“Redefining marriage in the way now proposed would see marriage reduced to a committed, affectionate sexual relationship between any two people.”
Topics covered include marriage equality and discrimination, the importance of marriage and family and marriage’s religious significance, the importance of mothers and fathers and the consequences of redefining marriages.
The threat of jail for Christian ministers in Idaho refusing to perform same-sex weddings and the threat of prosecution for hate speech for clergy in Holland, France, Spain, the US and Australia for upholding their faith tradition’s position on marriage are among examples of consequences of redefining marriage.
A key part of the letter’s argument is that proponents of same-sex marriage “rarely focus on the real meaning and purpose of marriage”.
“If marriage is an institution designed to support people of the opposite sex to be faithful to each other and to the children of their union it is not discrimination to reserve it to them,” the letter said.
Don’t Mess With Marriage opens with an overview of the situation in Australia and around many parts of the world.
“At this time in history there is much discussion about the meaning of marriage,” it said.
“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.”
Don’t Mess With Marriage states “those who experience same-sex attraction… must be treated with respect, sensitivity, and love.
“Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
The pastoral letter develops an argument around “treating like cases alike and different cases differently”.
“Only women are admitted to women’s hospitals and only children to primary schools.
“We have programs targeted at Aborigines, refugees, athletes, those with disabilities or reading difficulties, and so on.
“If marriage is an institution designed to support people of the opposite sex to be faithful to each other and to the children of their union it is not discrimination to reserve it to them.”
Finally Don’t Mess With Marriage calls upon all those of good will “to redouble their support for the institution of marriage in our community and for the laws and culture that sustain it.
“We particularly urge you to make your views known to your parliamentary representatives.”
Chair of the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher 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.”