Church leaders to deliver anti-gay marriage letters


LEADERS of Sydney’s major Christian churches will make a coordinated appeal against same-sex marriage straight from the pulpit this weekend in a bid to rally opposition before the federal parliamentary vote.

Statements from Anglican, Catholic and Greek Orthodox church leaders will be read out or distributed at services, stressing the need to head off any change to the current definition of marriage.

The move comes as proposed same-sex marriage legislation is due to be debated for the first time in the lower house on Monday, when a social policy and legal affairs committee inquiry report into two private members bills amending the Marriage Act will be tabled.

The Anglican Archbishop for the diocese of Sydney, Peter Jensen, writes to parishioners that the ”parliamentary success of this revolutionary redefinition is not inevitable,” and calls on Christians who support the traditional definition of marriage to make their views known to federal MPs.

”I urge you to pray about this matter and write speedily to members of parliament expressing your support for marriage as at present defined and your concern that more be done to support and strengthen marriage and family life, as properly understood, in our nation,” he said.

Dr Jensen’s letter states that it is beyond the power of Parliament to change the definition of marriage, ”although its laws should recognise the true definition and support it”.

Catholic congregations across Sydney will receive a similar pastoral letter from church leaders including Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, tomorrow.

”Marriage is more than having one’s love for another legally recognised,” The Catholic Weekly quotes Cardinal Pell, and auxiliary bishops Julian Porteous, Terry Brady and Peter Comensoli as stating.

”It has been protected and supported by the law because governments have recognised its contribution to the good of society.”

Bishop Porteous told the newspaper that copies of the letter would be made available to parishioners – as would special bookmarks with eight ”frequently asked questions” about marriage.

A letter from Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis of the Greek Orthodox archdiocese will direct parishioners to a website that helps them register their opposition to same-sex marriage with their local MPs.

Archbishop Stylianos’s letter, to be read out after tomorrow’s liturgy, states the proposed legislation is ”diametrically against” Christianity and the Greek Orthodox tradition.

”Therefore a sacred duty of every responsible member of our church (whether male or female) is to request that his or her local member of parliament vote in Parliament against the Marriage Amendment Bill,” the letter also reads.

”No one should be indifferent to this issue, as there is a danger that we will be overwhelmed by the well-organised ‘same sex marriage’ lobby.”

A spokesman for Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said church leaders had every right to express their views, and encouraged Christians who supported same-sex marriage to do likewise.

”With polls showing a majority of Australian Christians support marriage equality and with prominent Christians like [former NSW premier] Kristina Keneally and a growing number of clergy endorsing the reform, I don’t expect many people will be influenced by their priest this Sunday,” he said.