Show respect when upholding marriage, says Archbishop
UPHOLD MARRIAGE AND FAMILY WITHOUT CONDEMNATION OR DISCRIMINATION, SAYS ARCHBISHOP COSTELLOE
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, lays out clearly the inimitable position that the marriage covenant between a man and a woman plays as “a fundamental building block of our society”, linked as marriage is to the creation and sustaining of the family. PHOTO: Miller Lokanata
In a challenging pastoral letter to be delivered to the Catholic community across Perth this weekend, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB speaks into the debate about 'same-sex marriage', recognising that many views exist on such a complex issue.
Archbishop Costelloe’s letter begins by pointing to the respect, compassion and sensitivity with which people who experience same-sex attraction are to be upheld. “We know them to be loving people, striving as we all do to live a good life,” he emphasises.
The Archbishop believes it is imperative to offer love and support, and not to “condemn them or cut them off”, and “nor should we”, he states.
Equally, he clarifies that the question of 'same-sex marriage' is “not about condemnation, discrimination or rejection” but, rather, “about the nature of marriage” and its importance in our society over many centuries.
In the main body of his pastoral letter, Archbishop Costelloe lays out clearly the inimitable position that the marriage covenant between a man and a woman plays as “a fundamental building block of our society”, linked as marriage is to the creation and sustaining of the family.
The Archbishop goes on to remind Catholics that marriage has a “unique status in our society” and is more than mutual love and support between two partners.
He expounds the unwavering responsibility that adults have towards the rights of every child, each one deserving to be “created through the love of their parents”, and nurtured “within the community of love that created him or her”.
He also looks realistically at the difficulties of marriage, but sees these as a wake-up call to society at large to “put our energy and attention into strengthening this vital institution rather than weakening it further by seeking to change its time-honoured nature”.
To re-define marriage to cover any relationship other than one man and one woman is, the Archbishop explains, to “sever or, at best, relativise the essential link between marriage and the family”.
Aside from believing same-sex couples should not be discriminated against, the Archbishop equally believes “the government has a role to play in the regulation of marriage, primarily because marriage is linked to the creation of a family”.
“It is the importance of the family unit in society which justifies the government’s role,” he attests.
The Archbishop points out that “the way in which [same-sex marriage] is discussed, and the basis on which decisions are made, will be a measure of the maturity of our society”. He believes there must be a distinction between the “strength of arguments about 'same-sex marriage' on the one hand” and “the essential human dignity of those who may hold opposing views”.
“It is unworthy,” he says, “to suggest that those who argue against the proposed redefinition of marriage are homophobic, intolerant or in some way lacking in intellectual depth.
“It is unfair to suggest that they are trying to force their views on others. It is cruel to claim such people are devoid of love, compassion or understanding for those in same-sex relationships.”
Archbishop Costelloe’s pastoral letter comes as a follow-up to the recent pastoral letter released by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Don’t mess with marriage, and, in the same week that 38 of Australia’s religious leaders have written a public letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, urging him to resist attempts in Federal Parliament to redefine the meaning of marriage.
Archbishop Costelloe's Pastoral Letter - to view online click here; to download click here (PDF, 426 KB)
28 May Media Release: 'Don't mess with marriage' say Australian Catholic Bishops - click here
To view the Catholic Bishops' 'What Is Marriage?' e-brochure, please click here
To download 'Don't Mess With Marriage' Pastoral Letter, please click here (PDF, 277 KB)