COLAC’S Catholic priest says a letter to his parishioners detailing the church’s stance against gay marriage is not homophobic.
St Mary’s Catholic Church parishioners received letters from the state’s six Catholic Bishops yesterday urging them to share their views on proposed amendments to the Marriage Act.
The amendments would change the definition of marriage and allow same-sex couples to marry.
St Mary’s priest Father Michael O’Toole said the letter, which the bishops circulated to 80,000 Victorians, encouraged discussion about marriage legislation.
“The Catholic Church does not promote homophobia or any other form of discrimination, so we have to be clear that while the letter is against gay marriage it is not condemning gay people,” Fr O’Toole said.
“We believe in the respect of all people,” he said.
“The letter provides a guideline for parishioners but at the end of the day they will make up their own minds.
“We’re talking about people who have their own life experiences and their own understanding of life, so they will take the bishops’ words as guidelines but they also have an ability to think for themselves.”
People in support of gay marriage have also encouraged people to contact politicians and respond to the government’s survey.
The Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich said he had received “record numbers” of letters and petition signatures in support of gay marriage since the bishops released their letter.
“There has also been a strong reaction from people of faith, who do not want one church to misrepresent them on this important issue,” Mr Greenwich said.
“The Catholic Church hierarchy today prioritised spending church funds on denying equality for loving and committed couples,” he said.
Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors encouraged people to talk to their federal members of parliament and respond to the Federal Government’s online survey on gay marriage.
“We wish to preserve the true meaning of marriage for future generations,” Bishop Connors said.