Catholic church divided on the issue

Catholic church divided on the issue

Discussion about "marriage for all © N.N.

Australians are to say yes or no to "gay marriage" in a postal survey. The result should be available in mid-November. One thing is already apparent: the rift in the Catholic Church on this ie.

Under prere from the right wing of his conservative coalition government, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refuses to lift the caucus requirement for a parliamentary vote on "gay marriage". The legal binding nature of the "postal survey," which cost the equivalent of 82 million euros: zero. The political commitment: weak.

Still, the poll, which begins this Tuesday, is heating up the mood. Prime Minister Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and tens of thousands of protesters in Sydney campaigned for a Yes vote to introduce marriage for same-sex couples on Sunday at the opening of the "gay marriage" election campaign.

Voting goals unclear

However, it is not really known what is actually being voted on. There is no concrete draft law that clearly states what is at stake: marriage or civil partnership? Must religions accept same-sex marriage? Or are they allowed to remain true to their teachings without being hauled into court for discrimination?

The "Coalition for Marriage," which brings together more than 80 religious and secular groups and in which the Catholic Bishops' Conference plays a leading role, sees the end of religious freedom and freedom of expression dawning. Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher, in an exclusive interview with The Australian newspaper, warned that in countries with marriage equality, advocates of traditional marriage "are being bullied or forced to adopt the new view of marriage". Fisher cautions, "It's naive to think that won't happen here."

Bishops' conference warns against approval

Denis Hart, president of the bishops' conference and archbishop of Melbourne, stressed in an interview with the Fairfex media group that the church expects its 180.000 employees in schools, nursing homes, charities and hospitals to "total" adherence to church teachings and will take "very firm" action against deviation, he said.

To be sure, the institutions take a decidedly different view of the matter than the bishops do. Suzanne Greenwood, board member of Catholic Health Care Australia (CHCA), told Fairfax Media, as before, she does not expect doctors and nurses to adhere strictly to church teachings. CHCA is Australia's largest private and not-for-profit healthcare provider.

Principals of three elite Catholic schools in Melbourne and Sydney recommend their church be more realistic. Father Chris Middleton, rector of Xavier College in Melbourne, writes in the school newsletter that in his experience young people are almost unanimously in favor of same-sex marriage. He said the church needs to consider why this is so. The Jesuit points out with "brutal seriousness" that the church, due to the abuse scandal, hardly enjoys "credibility" anymore "on the controversial ies around sexuality".

It's all about civil marriage

Father Frank Brennan, one of the country's most respected Catholic intellectuals, wants to vote for "gay marriage" "for the good of society". He continues to stand by Catholic teaching on marriage as an institution between man and woman, Jesuit says in articles and interviews. This, however, must be seen separately from the civil marriage, and only that is what the postal vote is about.

The fact that he is going against the bishops with this position does not faze the head of the Catholic Charities Association.

Of Archbishop Hart, Brennan says he is a "76-year-old man" whose job is to "implement formal church teaching". Brennan, a lawyer, said the "legitimate concern" about religious freedom should be kept out of the "cacophony" of the pro and con campaigns. That could be left to parliament in the event of a yes vote. Justice Minister George Brandis has already ared that "religious freedom protections" will be "very strong" in a "gay marriage" bill.

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Christina Cherry
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