Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has urged Catholics to vote “no” in a same-sex marriage postal survey, telling parishioners that the government has no vested interest in regulating relationships other than heterosexual marriage.
Although the postal survey does not have the force of law, it which will determine whether parliament will debate on the legalization of same-sex marriage. If the outcome shows a majority of “yes” votes, the legislative body will proceed to a debate and an eventual vote on the matter.
In his homily at Mass on Sunday, Archbishop Fisher told his congregation that the government should “keep out of the friendship business and out of the bedroom.”
“The state has no business telling us who we should love and how, sexually or otherwise,” he told his congregation at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral.
“The only kind of friendship the state has a proper interest in recognizing and regulating is heterosexual marriage, because that’s what leads to children—new citizens—and gives them the best start in life,” he said.
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, Archbishop Fisher said it was best for children to have a mother and a father, and that’s what marriage is about.
Last year, Pope Francis jumped into a political battle in Mexico over a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, publicly siding with the Mexican bishops in their opposition to the government’s push to admit gay marriage.
“I willingly join the Bishops of Mexico in supporting the efforts of the Church and civil society in favor of the family and of life,” Francis said, “which at this time require special pastoral and cultural attention worldwide.”
Also in 2016, the Pope published a teaching letter on marriage and the family titled Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) in which said that “only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society” and that de facto or same-sex unions may not “be equated with marriage.”
“No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society,” he said.
In his letter, the Pope reflected on the unique value of motherhood and fatherhood, neither of which is dispensable or replaceable with a unisex version of “parent.” And although many countries “are witnessing a legal deconstruction of the family,” he said, this cannot bode well for the future of society.
The Pope also said it is unacceptable that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries “dependent on the introduction of laws to establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex.”
In his homily Sunday, Archbishop Fisher said that the vote would have repercussions for religious freedom and could threaten the institution of marriage itself.
“If overseas experience is anything to go by, if marriage is redefined it will be very hard to speak up for real marriage anymore—in schools, at work, socially,” he said.
“Traditional believers will be vulnerable to discrimination suits and other kinds of bullying for their beliefs. Some may lose their jobs, promotions, businesses, political careers,” he said.
This is not the first time that the Sydney Archbishop has weighed in on the same-sex marriage question.
This past summer, Fisher similarly criticized efforts to “bully” people into accepting the “deconstruction and redefinition” of marriage, accusing supporters of gay marriage of promoting a “homogenizing ‘equality.’”
Speaking at his diocese’s annual Marriage Mass, the Archbishop said: “There are voices in our culture that no longer think marriage need be for life, or be open to children, or be exclusive, or be between man and wife.”
“They write off as benighted and bigoted those who stand by marriage as traditionally understood,” he said.
Fisher recognized that because of changing public opinion Christian couples can find themselves in an “uncomfortable” position, “for some politically, culturally and commercially powerful forces are determined to silence any alternative to the politically correct position in this matter; to bully us all into accepting the deconstruction and redefinition of a fundamental institution; and to relegate questions of what marriage is and is for as secondary to an homogenizing ‘equality.’”
The result of the voluntary postal survey will be announced on November 15.
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