Parishioners advised on same-sex vote in Australia

Parishioners advised on same-sex vote in Australia Archbishop Timothy Costello

As moves are being made to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia, an archbishop has released a pastoral letter to his parishes outlining the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Timothy Costello, from the Diocese of Perth, aimed to clarify the reasons behind the Church’s opposition to changing the legal definition of marriage, encouraging parishioners to “reflect deeply on this issue”.

This comes as the government aims to hold a voluntary postal plebiscite, which is similar to a referendum but doesn’t deal with matters that can change the constitution. The result of the referendum is not binding, which means a government vote could fail even if the population votes for same-sex marriage.

The archbishop said marriage is “understood as the union of a man and a woman for life, and as the best way to provide the upbringing of children”.

He said that the Catholic community in Australia has a right to propose its views in what they believe would best serve society “as a whole”, but has “no right to impose our views on others”.

Archbishop Costello continues saying that although the Church sets forth an ideal, it is not always realised in practice due to marriage breakdowns, couples unable to have children and more, but it doesn’t make “the ideal any less worth striving for”.

“None of this suggests that there should be any unjust discrimination against same-sex couples. Nor does it suggest that legal protections and government benefits should be denied to same-sex couples,” he added, saying that many people have family and friends who are in same-sex couples that they “love and respect”.