Marriage Redefinition

Reinforce marriage - don't Redefine it.  

Message from Most Rev Peter A Comensoli

To the People, Religious and Clergy of the Diocese of Broken Bay,

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Federal Government has announced its intention to hold a national postal survey, seeking the opinion of Australians before it considers changing the legal definition of marriage by an Act of Parliament to include same-sex couples. 

Whatever the outcome of this significant development in the life of our country, the Church's understanding of marriage will remain - that marriage is a covenant of love between a man and a woman for life, and open to life. Our teaching is about the nature of marriage itself, not its legal status.

I intend to write in more depth to you about this important issue in early September when the actual question in the national postal survey is known.

At this time in the public debate, however, I wish to make it clear that the provision of any new freedom in law needs to be measured in terms of already existing freedoms, especially those of religious, conscience and speech freedoms. One freedom must not usurp another.

A change in the legal status of marriage may affect what can be said and done in our faithbased organisations, including our schools, hospitals, charities, and social support agencies.

With this in mind, I write to you:

  • Firstly, to ask, if eligible, that you are accurately enrolled to vote before 24 August.
  • Secondly, to share with you that I will vote 'no' in the postal survey.

I will do so given both my understanding of the nature of the relationship of marriage, and
because the proposal for a change is being presented without sufficient provision for the
protection of other significant freedoms.

In the public debate that will follow, it is important to understand three principles:

  1. That it is never just for a Christian to call into question the full dignity due to each and
    every person, no matter their sexual orientation.

  2. That all families striving for what is good for their members, especially children, ought to
    receive all the proper protections in law that will aid their flourishing.
  3. That it is perfectly legitimate, and not bigoted or intolerant, to publicly support marriage
    between a man and a woman, as a continuing good for our society.

Our Diocesan website has further links and information for your consideration.

I ask that you actively seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you consider in conscience, informed as it is by our Catholic Tradition, how you intend to vote.

Most Rev Peter A Comensoli

Bishop of Broken Bay  

Postal Ballot

The Australian Government has announced there will be a postal plebiscite on whether Australia should change marriage to include “same-sex marriage”.

Ballot papers will be sent out on Tuesday, 12 September and all votes must be received back by Tuesday, 7 November.

What is Marriage

Marriage is both a personal relationship between a man and a woman, and the protective institution for their children. But of course Marriage is more than just words on paper.

For Catholics there is an inherent God given nature to Marriage. The Church teaches that marriage between two baptised persons is a sacrament – and outward expression of inward grace. It is the union of one male to one female in order to come closer to God through a permanent and exclusive union that is open to the bearing of children.

Proposed Changes to the Definition

The Marriage Act 1961 defines Marriage as:
Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

The proposed change to the definition is:

Marriage means the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexuality or gender identity, voluntarily entered into for life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consequences of Change

The redefinition of the understanding in the Marriage Act 1961 has been proposed to include the affectionate relationship between any two people, reducing the understanding of marriage to only a committed, affectionate and sexual relationship. Loving, affectionate relationships between adults should always be respected. But they are not marriages.

Changes to the Law reinforces only an emotional union – not a bodily union directed at the creation and protection of children.

Redefining Marriage will mean that it is no longer a fundamental unit recognised by the State, but a right granted by the State to those it chooses. Once it becomes a creation of the State, it can be further redefined.

A redefinition of Marriage will require significant changes to the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’.
Children in schools will be taught about alternative forms of ‘marriage’.

Freedoms – particularly religious freedoms that are part of the many services the Church provides through education, health care, aged car, and welfare may be at great risk.


ACBC Submission to Select Committee on Same-Sex Marriage (11 Jan 2017)

Don’t Mess with Marriage

Rights Clash looms in same-sex debate:

“The resistance falls into three categories: those who care only about achieving same-sex marriage; those who think protection around the ceremony is the only issue that matters; and those, like the champions of progressive ideology, who see this social change as an integral step in driving religion from the public square.”
– Paul Kelly

Links to:
Pope Francis' statement on Marriage and the Plebiscite
Consequences: Changing the Law on Marriage affects everyone

Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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