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'Don't Mess With Marriage': Anti-gay marriage booklet handed out to Catholic school children

“To treat them as the same does a grave injustice..."

By Jessica Leahy
Less than one month after a traditionally conservative Ireland voted in favour of same-sex marriage comes a nine-page booklet handed out by the Catholic church to Australian Catholic school children in which the church takes aim at 'same-sex friendships'.
The “pastoral letter”, titled 'Don't Mess With Marriage', is authored by the Catholic Bishops of Australia and hones in on the same-sex marriage debate, highlighting the church’s stance on the matter where it refers to gay marriage as a “serious injustice.”
In the lengthy document the church describes same-sex parenting as “gravely unjust” and indicates it would be wrong to “legitimise the false assertion that there is nothing distinctive about a man and a woman, a father or a mother.”
“Same-sex friendships are of a very different kind,” the Catholic booklet reads. “To treat them as the same does a grave injustice to both kinds of friendship and ignores the particular values that real marriages serve...”
While the pamphlet encourages the acceptance of those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” it also pushes the significance of traditional family structures and the Church's perceived pitfalls of redefining marriage all the while rubbishing the notion that preserving marriage for heterosexual only couples is akin to discrimination.
The opening page of the booklet.
The church qualifies its “traditional” interpretation of marriage by stating:
“[The Church] sees marriage as about connecting the values and people in our lives which otherwise have a tendency to get fragmented: sex and love, male and female, sex and babies, parents and children. This view has long influenced our law, literature, art, philosophy, religion and social practices… It is a comprehensive union between a man and a woman grounded on heterosexual union.”
As expected, the booklet cites the biblical “one flesh” reference to marriage.
The letter also dedicates an entire chapter to “The importance of mothers and fathers” placed, rather purposefully, next to a picture of a smiling baby gazing lovingly into the eyes of a man and a woman.
After glossing over the need to support single parents the church cites that there is a “big difference” between someone unintentionally finding themselves raising a child without another partner of the opposite sex and someone “planning from the beginning artificially to create an ‘alternative family’ that deliberately deprives a child of a father or a mother.”
The document slams non-hetrosexual nuclear families with the line: “‘Messing with marriage’, therefore, is also ‘messing with kids’. It is gravely unjust to them.’”
On the following page, adjacent to a picture of a child sitting solemnly in the dark, the author's deliberate on “the consequences of redefining marriage.”
One of the arguments posed is that the Catholic Church fears a world with same-sex marriage would be a world where “gender would no longer matter” and that people who choose hold uphold the traditional definition of marriage “will be characterised as old-fashioned, even bigots”.
In a bid to show the unfairness that might befall the church and its flock if it fails to recognise same-sex marriage the booklet used the examples of bakers in Colorado and Oregon who have been fined for refusing to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples on religious grounds, the plight of a photographer in New Mexico who was also fined for refusing to shoot a gay wedding and some Illinois accommodation providers who were sued for not providing honeymoon packages after same-sex weddings.
The reaction
Upon discovering the pamphlet was distributed to her children’s school Canberra mum Tanya Howell told one news outlet she was “furious.”
“I didn’t actually know what to say because I’m just shocked that in this day and age, knowing that they have children in that school who are gay people, that this sort of discrimination would be promoted,” she told news.com.au.
It is understood that the document was made available to all bishops in Australia and the distribution of its contents were up to each religious leader's own discretion within his own archdiocese.
Canberra Archbishop Christopher Prowse confirmed the ABC document had been handed out to 56 Catholic schools in his archdiocese earlier this week.
“We're hoping it will be distributed to all our Catholic institutions, our communities, and our parishes,” Prowse said.
After the Irish referendum gay-activists celebrate.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome, who recently told The Guardian that many Aussies will “feel embarrassed” if Australia is seen to be lagging behind the Catholic stronghold of Ireland on same-sex equality, said the Catholic bishops were out of touch with how this kind of propaganda might affect the children in schools it was delivered to.
“I’m talking about young same-sex attracted people, for whom life is already hard enough, and also the children of same-sex couples,” he told news.com.au.
“But given this material has already gone out it’s only fair marriage equality advocates are invited in to Catholic schools to give their side of the issue. After all, education is about hearing and understanding both sides of an argument, not just being fed one line.”
Gay marriage legislation in Australia
Australia’s House of Representatives and the Senate voted ‘no’ on same-sex marriage legislation in 2012 – during the last term of parliament. During that vote Labor members were allowed to vote in line with their conscience but the Liberal coalition bound its members to oppose the bills.
But in the current climate surrounding the debate since Ireland’s historic referendum indicates that political support has grown and opinion polls continue to show most Australians are in favour.
Also number of MPs who voted against same-sex marriage last time have since announced they support it including former treasurer Chris Bowen and former deputy prime minister Wayne Swan.
Places where same-sex marriages are legal include Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Iceland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and – within the UK – England, Wales and Scotland and now Ireland.
Within the US gay marriage is legal in 36 states and a supreme court is soon due to rule on whether state-imposed bans are unconstitutional.
Australia's changing values
In bad news for the Catholic Church, a poll taken in July 2014 by pollster Crosby Textor found that most many Australians identifying with major church groups were now optimistic about marriage
equality – as were older Australians.
In the end let’s all hope that #LoveWins.

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