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Australian Archbishop Julian Porteous has defended Catholic teaching on marriage.

Editor's Note: The following article was submitted by an Australian priest who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

AUSTRALIA, October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Australia’s “gay’’ marriage and LGBTI activists rejoiced. An article in the national newspaper, The Australian, lent support to their shrill campaign for a “yes’’ vote in the nation’s postal plebiscite on same-sex “marriage’’ from an unexpected quarter.

In our pluralist society, Bishop Bill Wright, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle (north of Sydney), said a “com­mon good’’ argument could be made that “it does more for community peace and harmony for gay couples to have a place in the recognised structures than for them to be excluded.’’ 

The article quoted from the bishop’s website, in which he claimed that the push for same-sex marriage “seemed to arise from the desire of gay couples to have an officially sanctioned ceremony to formalise their commitment to each other and then to have that relationship accorded legal and social recognition … in a society where same-sex relationships are legal and gay couples can adopt and raise children, it’s a bit of a legal anomaly that their relationship itself doesn’t have a clear legal status.’’ 

However wrong he was, Bishop Wright was not alone.

His episcopal colleague, Bishop Vincent Long of the diocese of Parramatta (west of Sydney), also angered faithful Catholics by advising his flock that the plebiscite is “an opportunity for us to listen to what the Spirit is saying through the signs of the times.’’ 

“Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have often not been treated with respect, sensitivity and compassion,’’ Bishop Long lamented. “Regrettably, the church has not always been a place where they have felt welcomed, accepted and loved.’’

The debate dividing Australians is also exposing a schism within the Catholic Church in Australia. A recent commentary of Rorate Caeli revealed Jesuits, including the leaders of two of Australia’s elite boys’ colleges, are among prominent protagonists for a “Yes’’ vote to change the law. It is now clear that the schism reaches as high as the Episcopal Conference. There are deep fault lines in both faith and morals, but the eagerness of Bishops such as Long and Wright to offer incense at the Altar of Political Correctness in honour of the god Eros, has brought the schism into the open during the same-sex marriage debate.   

Three archbishops strongly defend marriage

While most of their colleagues practise elected silence or offer ambiguous, timid platitudes, three Archbishops – out of more than 70 serving and retired members of the Australian Bishops’ Conference – have so far made significant contributions to the spirited “No’’ side of the campaign.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous has led the way. In 2015, he stood firm when the state of Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner decided he had a case to answer for distributing a mild, respectful book to Catholic schools defending Catholic teaching on marriage. While the case against the Archbishop was dropped, it was one of the early signs that freedom of religion and expression was under assault from those who claim to be the standard bearers of  “tolerance’’ and “inclusion.’’

Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, a qualified lawyer, has concentrated on the grave threat that changing the Marriage Act would pose to religious and civic freedoms. That approach, also being pursued on the “No’’ side by former Prime Minister John Howard and various secular commentators, is gaining traction.

In a statement issued on Our Lady’s birthday, Archbishop Fisher said:

“I believe that further messing with marriage won't help people embrace and sustain real marriages and marriage-based families in the future. That will be a loss for us all – people with same-sex attraction included – because so much about our individual and common life depends on the health of marriages and families.

“Will there be other consequences of redefining marriage? Overseas experience suggests there will be – for school curriculums, employment opportunities, freedoms of speech and religion, gender ideology in many contexts. Commentators have highlighted real cases of institutions like church schools, hospitals and welfare agencies, or business operators and workers, or parents and ordinary people being bullied and punished for supporting traditional marriage. Some of the same spirit is in the air here in Australia. Faithophobic slurs are now all too common.

“Now, for saying all this, I'll probably be tagged a hater. But the fact is that many Christians know and love someone who is same-sex attracted and we want only the best for them. We also love real marriages and want to keep supporting that special relationship. We are being pressured to choose one or the other. But I'm determined to keep respecting both, to keep calling on Catholic Sydney to do the same, and to work to keep the debate civil.’’

In a thought-provoking contribution to the debate, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge focused on the true nature of marriage and family and countered so-called the “yes’’ side’s “marriage equality’’ catchcry:

“It’s true that all human beings are equal. But that doesn’t mean they are the same. Same-sex marriage ideology implies that equality means sameness. But it doesn’t. I may be different, but I’m still equal. Marriage policy has almost always “discriminated” against certain people: parents can’t marry their children, brother and sister can’t marry, those under age can’t marry. Nor can people of the same sex. That doesn’t make them any less equal …

Are heterosexuality and homosexuality equivalent?

In the construction of any human society, heterosexuality has been privileged because it alone can secure the future by producing children. Only a society which sees children as optional and the future as something of no great concern would see heterosexuality and homosexuality as equivalent.

Are children an optional extra?

Without resorting to extraordinary measures, same-sex couples can’t produce children – not just because of age or sterility but because of biological impossibility. Yet bringing children to birth and raising them in a stable environment is fundamental to marriage, which remains true even if a married couple can’t conceive. The two purposes of marriage are unitive and procreative. They are deeply interrelated. Yet same-sex marriage would separate them radically, which means that it can’t be marriage.’’ 

'Sin' not mentioned

Worthwhile as such contributions have been, a key ingredient has been notably absent in a debate that has swung, mainly on the “yes’’ side, between bitterness and hate speech and treacly slogans about inclusivity, equality, tolerance and love.

The word “sin’’ no longer appears, apparently, even in the Catholic lexicons of bishops in this part of the world. It has not been mentioned. …

Depending on their phraseology, anyone brave enough to try might find himself facing accusations of “vilification’’ and “intimidation,’’ and a $12,600 fine under special federal laws rushed in to keep the debate “civil.’’

On their form to date, Catholic leaders will not test the boundaries.  

While for Bishop Long, “It should not be a matter of a simple answer Yes or No to the postal survey,” one cannot help but call to mind the words of Our Divine Lord: “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).