The debate in Australia over same-sex marriage took a turn this week that’s left Catholic traditionalists spitting tacks.
According to this report, Father Chris Middleton, above, rector of Xavier College, a “prestigious” Catholic school, called on the church to reflect on the overwhelming support for marriage equality among young people.
He cited an Irish archbishop who called for the church to take “a reality check” and said:
In my experience, there is almost total unanimity amongst the young in favour of same-sex marriage, and arguments against it have almost no impact on them.
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.
In his August 24 letter, Middleton sought to downplay the role of religion in the upcoming postal survey. While maintaining the church had a right to participate in the debate, he noted:
The vote relates to marriage as a civil right, and is not in essence about the Catholic sacramental understanding of marriage.
He also suggested the church exposed itself to charges of hypocrisy following the revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
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.
The rector of another Catholic school – Father Ross Jones, above, of St Ignatius – supports Middleton.
He outlined the rights already afforded to same-sex couples in Australia, adding many now wish to marry:
For the same reasons as their opposite-sex counterparts.
He argued Catholic couples could “in good conscience” engage in sexual relationships for reasons other than procreation under the “order of reason” school of Natural Law, rather than a physicalist view.
Presumably, same sex-couples, who make such a commitment to each other in good conscience, do so by reflecting on experience and on what it is to be human, using their God-given reason.
A recent poll commissioned by same-sex marriage advocates found 66 per cent of Catholics said they were inclined to vote “yes” in the upcoming postal survey – the same proportion as the general population.
Meanwhile, one of the plonkers featured in an anti-gay marriage TV campaign in Australia – Dr Pansy Lai, above, has been forced to deny that she supports quack “gay cure” therapies.
Lai is the founder of the Australian Chinese for Families Association, which claims to:
Bring together the Chinese community throughout Australia who hold traditional family values.
But, PinkNews reports, serious concerns have been raised over her group’s anti-gay marriage literature, which promotes “treatment” for people who want to change their sexual orientation.
It claims such treatment can:
Result in lasting change for more than 50 per cent of people studied, with no increases in harm or distress.
Lai insisted that she is not “personally” a supporter of conversion therapy, but did admit to posting information about it online.
There is no way in my website that we say people need to go through conversion therapies. I’m just saying the study results. I’m not personally saying that. For some people at least who wish to change, the study shows there is no harm.
Appearing in the Coalition for Marriage ad, Lai pushes the group’s fears about “radical gay sex education”, insisting:
When same-sex marriage passes as law overseas, this type of programme becomes compulsory.
Astoundingly, every single person who appears in the Coalition for Marriage ad has now been discredited.
Cella White claimed that:
A school told my son he could wear a dress next year if he felt like it.
Her claim was rubbished by the principal of her son’s school, Frankston High School, who said such an incident never happened.
The third woman who appears in the ad is Heidi McIvor, above, who claims:
Kids in year 7 are being asked to roleplay being in a same-sex relationship.
It later emerged that McIvor is a pastor at the extreme anti-LGBT City Builders Church in Sale, Victoria, and a persistent fundamentalist activist with an active role in the anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion movements.