Catholic church “desperate” after handing out anti-gay marriage booklets to children: Brisbane priest

Catholic church “desperate” after handing out anti-gay marriage booklets to children: Brisbane priest
Image: Father Terry Fitzpatrick

RECENT efforts by some Catholic dioceses to distribute anti-marriage equality booklets to school children has been slammed as “desperate” by a Brisbane priest and a sign that they’re “increasingly despairing”.

The circulation of booklets from the Catholic Bishops of Australia called Don’t Mess with Marriage that lays out a case against same-sex marriage made headlines last week after it was revealed children at numerous Catholic schools around the country were being given the material.

The decision to publish and distribute the booklets in schools across the country has left South Brisbane priest Fr Terry Fitzpatrick “angry” at some in the church.

“I feel angry and disappointed but not surprised that the hierarchy of the Catholic church would chose such a desperate measure to influence the debate on marriage equality,” he told the Star Observer.

“It is definitely a sign that they are becoming increasingly despairing and worried that they are on the losing side.”

Fr Fitzpatrick condemned those in the church responsible for the booklet for imposing their religious belief upon others and using children to disseminate their political message.

“They see the last vestiges of their power and influence rapidly disappearing into the sand,” he said.

“They refuse to believe that we live in a secular state and not a religious one where one religion’s laws apply to everyone regardless of their beliefs.

“They cling to the role of being the moral guardian of the nation when this serves neither society nor the church.”

Several marriage equality advocates, including Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national director Rodney Croome, described the booklet as harmful to children.

“We have written to all Catholic Education Offices urging them not to distribute the booklet because it contains misinformation about marriage equality and because it harms vulnerable children including young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and the children of same-sex couples,” Croome said.

“If Catholic educators have already distributed the booklet we urge them to provide both sides of the debate or stand accused of propaganda rather than education.

“We are happy to work with Catholic educators to ensure students who have heard the case against marriage equality also hear the case in favour of it.”

The booklet focuses primarily on what the church believes will be the negative impact on children if same-sex marriage is legalised in Australia, relying on the belief that it is fundamentally about children and that raising a child without a mother and a father would be “gravely unjust”.

For Fr Fitzpatrick, opposition to marriage equality based on the argument of what’s best for children does not make sense.

“If marriage is about children why aren’t they supporting it? Marriage has the potential to create stable, committed relationships. It enables people to share economic resources. It nurtures the couple and any children they have,” he said.

“Good marriages benefit the community and for many people express values of long-term commitment, generativity and faithfulness.”

The booklet argues it is a “natural right” that children require parents of both genders to provide the love.

“Only a woman can be a mother; only a man can be a father… Respecting a child’s dignity means affirming his or her need and natural right to a mother and a father,” it reads.

Fr Fitzpatrick refuted this, highlighting how children already have access to close familial male and female role models.

“Children deserved to be loved by mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, by whole communities,” he said.

“The argument that every child needs a mother and father doesn’t seem to apply to children of divorced parents and often these children don’t have a good experience of parents in a harmonious relationship.

“Research shows that children raised in gay and lesbian families do just as well and sometimes better because definite planning decisions need to be made in order to have children. Children are planned for and wanted and loved because of such efforts by same-sex couples.”

Being involved in providing care and support to the homeless in Brisbane through his work with Micah Projects, Fr Fitzpatrick has witnessed first-hand the harm that discrimination towards the LGBTI community can cause.

“When any group with in a society are marginalised and treated unequally there are repercussions,” he said.

“We are all aware of people who identify as GLTB who have been rejected by their families and wider communities. The effect of this is devastating leading to self-harm, suicide and homelessness.”

Fr Fitzpatrick said organisations and bodies within the Christian faith have contributed significantly to sexual persecution and should respond to the issue of same-sex marriage with compassion, not further discrimination.

“The Christian church has to take a lot of responsibility for [discrimination], but its response is not one of compassion, but of taking the high moral ground and the denying of equal rights when it comes to marriage,” he said.

“It has not seen the damage it has caused and continues to cause in the name of God.”

The generational changes to marriage or the varying levels of religious involvement in marriage over time are points Fr Fitzpatrick believes opponents to same-sex marriage fail to acknowledge.

“[Opponents] refuse to recognise that the institution of marriage has been in a state of flux. For many centuries, neither the church nor the state were involved in solemnising marriages,” he said.

“It has been an evolving as a civil and religious institution throughout history. It will continue to evolve and soon we will see in this country marriage laws that will include everyone.

“The bible says very little about marriage, as we understand if today, and nothing at all about same-sex marriage.

“If the church hierarchy stuck to the basics of Christianity instead of trying to control everyone they would not be in the mess they are today.”

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10 responses to “Catholic church “desperate” after handing out anti-gay marriage booklets to children: Brisbane priest”

  1. Gee wiz these child molesting Catholics are at it yet again, handing out LGBTI propaganda toilet paper rubbish as per usual! What a waste of paper, resources and time! Catholics must have a lot of time to spare being on unemployed cheques – while LGBTI people like me work dam hard at my job and pay taxes and these child molesting catholic cults pay 0% in tax! I am over it and quite frankly sick of it. I and millions of us LGBTI people and families want marriage equality and sum-bag cunts like PM Tony Abbott BLOCK BLOCK and BLOCK the marriage bills in the aussie parliament, kiss the ground the pope stands on, along with helping Cardinal George Pell escape child molesting charges as per dam usual, by hiding very deeply in the Vatican with his child molesting mates – so he does not have to get called up to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse back home in Australia!

  2. Not desperate, just determined to inform the faithful who seem to be grossly undereducated about what they profess to belong to.

  3. Is Marriage a “Right” or a “Privilege”?

    Actually it is BOTH, the same as driving an automobile and doing many other things! Everyone has a “right” to drive but we all have to QUALIFY for the “privilege”. To drive an automobile we first must apply for a license. We must meet the age requirements, next we must pass a written exam to prove we know the rules of the road, pass an eye test and finally we must prove to a representative of the DMV that we understand how to operate an automobile safely and efficiently on the road. Meeting ALL of these requirements gives us the “privilege” (license) to drive.

    Everyone also has a “right” to get married provided we QUALIFY for the “privilege”!

    The same can be said that EVERYONE has a “right” to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Pilot, Engineer, Architect, or anything else that life has to offer but we must first EARN the “privilege” by proving that our qualifications are worthy of that particular license! Imagine what the world would be like if people were able to “REDEFINE” the qualifications for the above (or any other) profession to simply meet their selfish desires. We would simply live in a chaotic world!

    We must live by the word of God, and not by a liberal minority that would like to redefine society to simply suit their own personal agenda.

    • Nonsensical drivel.
      Civil human rights are not and can never be treated as privileges, they cannot be withheld.
      They are guaranteed and inalienable.

      Read the universal charter of HUMAN rights:
      Every HUMAN being has the right to form a legally recognized and protected family.

      Marriage is the legal framework within which we build our families. It is the legislative tool with which we recognize and acknowledge the family and it provides the legal mechanisms required to guarantee the protection of it.
      To deny gays because you have, without any rational backing, decided they don’t “qualify” for that universally recognized right would be no different to denying a person the right to live because you have decided they don’t qualify for living.

      The right to legally form a family and the right to all of the legal protections afforded to families is an inalienable universal right that is guaranteed to all HUMAN beings.
      Your arguments about not qualifying are arguments about how you feel gays dont qualify to be regarded or treated as HUMAN beings.

      • “Marriage is the legal framework within which we build our families. It is the legislative tool with which we recognize and acknowledge the family and it provides the legal mechanisms required to guarantee the protection of it.”

        But that’s the same reasoning Christians use to keep marriage between a man and a woman. You can’t both be right.

    • Yes and the qualifying standard for marriage should be two consenting adults wanting to enter into a legal partnership. The current “requirements” you came are need to prove that you deserve the “privilege” of marriage nowadays is that one of you has a penis and the other a vagina. I could literally walk up to a stranger in the street and get married half an hour later. Compared to same-sex couples who can be together for 20 years, raise a family together but then be told that they don’t meet the requirements for the “privilege” of marriage. What a ridiculous argument you make. In reference of our driver’s licence example, is it legal for them to refuse to give me a licence because I have blue eyes? Because I’m Jewish? Because I’m black? Because I’m gay? Or do all of these things not actually have any impact on my ability to drive/be a doctor/lawyer/maintain a healthy relationship and raise a family.

      The only people being selfish are the bigots who oppose equality, exactly how will your life change, in any conceivable way, if gay people are allowed to get married? Will you no longer love your partner? Will you no longer know how to care for your child?

    • Hey, Resbo. So presumably you passed your qualifications to get married with flying colours? What? You didn’t have to take one? But …. but ….

      It’s like this: learning to drive or fly an aeroplane or become a doctor or whatever does require practice and official recognition by the State, otherwise the end result would be what we in the real world call “ve-ry dan-ger-ous”.

      Also – clearly – we live in a world with a liberal MAJORITY. Our agenda is equality and justice for all. So suck it.

    • It was not so long ago that women were not ‘qualified’ to vote, open a bank account, become a lawyer, doctor, architect, soldier or many other things because they were women. Up until 1967 in parts of the USA inner-racial couples were not ‘qualified’ to get married because they were not of the same race. Indigenous Australians had their children taken from them because they were not ‘qualified’ to be ‘good’ parents.
      Today same-sex couples are not considered ‘qualified’ to get married in the eyes of a conservative, religious minority who wish to impose their personal agenda upon those who don’t share their beliefs. The current Marriage Act allows for both religious and secular forms of marriage in Australia. Making same-sex couples qualified for secular marriage will not make them qualified for religious marriage. Religious organisations currently have, and will continue to have, the right to determine who is qualified for their religious marriages. Unfortunately there is a vocal minority of religious conservatives who are not satisfied with having their religious beliefs on marriage respected, but are determined to have their religious beliefs determine the qualification for secular marriage as well.

  4. Thank you Fr Terry. It’s great to see Catholic, Anglican and Uniting clergy in Brisbane (as in other parts of the country), encouraging their Christian parishioners to support marriage equality, in accordance with their Christian values.