2 Australian Catholic schools endorse same-sex marriage

By @chelean on
Gay wedding cake
Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009. Reuters/Mick Tsikas

Two Catholic schools in Australia have endorsed same-sex marriage despite the Church’s stand in the matter. St Ignatius’ College in Sydney and Xavier College in Melbourne sent messages to parents, staff and students to reflect on Pope Francis’ teachings on love.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the two prestigious schools called for their community to dwell on their own consciences. Xavier College’s Father Chris Middleton cited an Irish archbishop who called for the Catholic Church to “take a reality check” on the overwhelming support for marriage equality among the youth.

“In my experience, there is almost total unanimity amongst the youth in favour of same-sex marriage, and arguments against it have almost no impact on them,” he wrote. “They are driven by a strong emotional commitment to equality, and this is surely something to respect and admire. They are idealistic in the value they ascribe to love, the primary gospel value.”

As the publication notes, Middleton previously sought to downplay the role of the church in Australia’s postal survey on marriage equality. In his Aug. 24 letter, he said the vote would relate to marriage as a civil right, not as about the Catholic sacramental understanding of marriage.

He also pointed out the alleged hypocrisy of the church following the revelations that it has been involved in child sexual abuse incidents. “To be brutally honest, the church speaking out in controversial areas around sexuality risks being mired in vitriolic attacks on its credibility in the aftermath of the royal commission,” he wrote, referring to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

As the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis had previously denounced same-sex marriage. However, he said the church should welcome and embrace LGBT members.

Father Ross Jones, St Ignatius College’s rector, said same-sex couples in the country wish to marry “for the same reasons as their opposite-sex counterparts.” He said couples could “in good conscience” engage in sexual relationships other than procreation reasons.

His views followed school Principal Paul Hine’s rejection of a warning from Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, who told Fairfax Media that church employees should “totally” uphold its teachings. Hart said all Catholic Church employers should sack staff who entered into same-sex marriages. Hine said those of same-sex orientation were valued members of the church.

Meanwhile, former NSW Liberal premier, Nick Greiner, has called on conservatives and liberals to support marriage equality. The Liberal party federal president, an alumnus of St Ignatius College, said “religious freedom” would not be threatened by the legalisation of gay marriage in Australia.