A Catholic priest has angered parishioners by incorporating anti-same-sex marriage messages into a Christmas service, while Cardinal George Pell has indicated he may meet with Australian Marriage Equality (AME) to discuss his church’s campaign against marriage equality.
Father Pat Cassidy encouraged parishioners to contact politicians to oppose same-sex marriage three times during a Christmas children’s mass at St. Patrick’s Church in the Queensland town of Gympie.
On the last occasion this occurred after children had been encouraged to come to the front of the church to hear a special Christmas message.
The comments reportedly lead to arguments among parishioners while a same-sex couple attending the mass with family walked out.
Brisbane woman, Leah Scullen told the Gympie Times newspaper that she had decided against converting to her husband’s faith after being shocked by a “discriminatory and hateful” message in a mass for children.
“I don’t want my children to be exposed to that,” said Scullen.
Cassidy told the paper he had deliberately chosen Christmas to get the message across to people who did not attend church at other times of the year.
Meanwhile, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia has written to AME defending his church’s political campaign against same-sex marriage.
“It is entirely appropriate for priests to support and encourage the people in their parishes to take part in this consultation about the meaning of marriage,” wrote Pell.
“In doing so, they are continuing a proud tradition of working with lay people and members of religious orders to defend important values and the rights of others – in this case, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, which has been significantly eroded and constrained wherever same-sex marriage has been legalised.”
Pell did not accept that no church had been compelled to marry a same-sex couple anywhere in the world where same-sex marriage had been legalised as a guarantee that it would not happen here.
Pell wrote that he was “open to considering” a meeting with AME, and suggested that he would bring a heterosexual married couple along as AME intended to bring a same-sex couple who had married overseas.
But he ruled out asking clergy to stop lobbying parishioners on the issue.