Catholic opinion divided on gay marriage

Catholic opinion divided on gay marriage

Catholic opinion on gay marriage in Australia is divided after a state parliament passed a motion endorsing it.

Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey warned he might not perform any marriages at all if the law requires him to perform gay ones, while two Catholic politicians spoke out in favour of gay marriage.

Hickey also said he was uncertain if the church could bury Catholics who had entered into same sex marriages, adding successful pushes for same-sex marriage would land the Catholic Church “back into the ghetto”.

“We can’t do those marriages at all. If the law forces us to, we will cancel our registration as marriage celebrants,” said Hickey in The Record, a Catholic newspaper in Australia.

“The ban on sodomy is still there. We’ve got nothing against people loving one another; it’s the sexual content that makes it difficult for us. We can’t bless a relationship with an inbuilt defect in it,” he said, though he later backed away from his stance on burial, following a call from fellow clergy urging a more compassionate approach.

Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome invited Hickey to meet same-sex couples.

“When the Archbishop meets real same-sex couples living real lives he will see the only ‘inbuilt defect’ we have to deal with is the legal discrimination he upholds against us,” he told the Sydney Star Observer.

At least two prominent Catholic Labor politicians, in opposition to party policy, have recently spoken in support of gay marriage. Brisbane’s Graham Perrett has said he considers changes in the law regarding same-sex marriage will reduce harm among homosexual youth.

Kristina Keneally, daughter of a Eucharistic minister and a former New South Wales premier, has publicly opposed Catholic teaching on homosexuality, saying her views are formed on the doctrine of the inviolability of conscience.

“A Catholic conscience must give attention and respect to church teachings, but is also bound to consider science, reason, human experience, scripture and other theological reflection,” she wrote in a September 26 column in the religion and ethics section of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website.

Last month the parliament in Tasmania, which in 1997 was the last state government to decriminalise homosexuality, was the first to pass a motion supporting same-sex marriage, calling on the federal government to amend the Marriage Act.

By David Crampton, Ecumenical News International

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