THE Catholic Church in Sydney has sent letters to companies that expressed their support for marriage equality as part of an open letter.

Advertisements showing some of the 180 business signatories to a corporate support campaign by Australian Marriage Equality were run in the Weekend Australian this month.

In one response to the ads, business manager of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney Michael Digges wrote to law firm Maurice Blackburn questioning their role and accusing them of “over stepping” by participating in the marriage debate.

The letter addressed to chairman Steve Walsh expresses “grave concern” about their “publicly supporting a strategic, political and well-funded campaign designed to pressure the Federal Government into changing the Marriage Act”.

Deputy Director of Australian Marriage Equality Ivan Hinton-Teoh said: “Given research indicating 67 per cent of Australian Catholics now support marriage equality, the letter illustrates how out of touch the Church has become.”

“These large corporations are invested in the Australian community and well-placed to reflect the shift to equality that has occurred nationally and globally,” Hinteon-Teoh said.

Digges also wrote a reminder of the “diverse and expansive demographic” of 600,000 the Catholic Church serves, all of whom are “significant user[s] of goods and services from many corporations”.

“I wonder whether you have questioned whether it is the role of a corporation [such as theirs] to be participating in such an important matter that impacts all of Australian society now and into the future,” he said.

A spokesperson for Maurice Blackburn told ABC News that the law firm is not intimidated and would not retract their support.

“Now it may well be that their intention was to frighten us into not participating in the debate,” she said.

“If that was the objective, well it’s… obviously had the opposite effect.”

Hinton-Teoh said that recent events such as the possibility of Christians divorcing in protest, the distribution of pamphlets to children denigrating same-sex marriages, and now “veiled threats” being made to corporations, “all shows growing desperation among opponents of marriage equality as the reform grows ever closer”.

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