SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – In separate but coordinated pastoral letters to their respective flocks, the Roman Catholic and Anglican archbishops of Sydney condemned parliamentary efforts to legalize same sex marriage.
LGBT rights activists and marriage equality supporters accused the churches of utilizing fear-mongering tactics from pulpits for political purposes.
In a letter read Sunday to Anglican congregations, the Archbishop of Sydney, Rev. Dr. Peter Jensen said called gay marriage a “state-imposed idea,” and referred to “a blatant propaganda war fought on this issue, with what amounts to product placement and celebrity endorsements.” The Anglican prelate called on his flock to pressure their Members of Parliament to oppose marriage equality bills,” and to those lawmakers, he added, “my advice to people is to take this into account as you cast your vote.”
In a similar epistle to Roman Catholic congregations, Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell said that same-sex relationships are “contrary to God’s plan for sexuality,” and that the two proposed bills for marriage equality “will cause” “discrimination and injustice,” “instead of removing” them.
And the Primate of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis, wrote “Our Orthodox view is contrary” to same sex marriage, “because the proposed alteration to the traditional form of marriage is diametrically against the sacredness of marriage and of the family, as taught by the Christian faith and Greek Orthodox Tradition.”
The prelates’ opinions will likely prevail, at least for now, because although a majority of Australians support marriage equality, a senior lawmaker said on Monday that MPs will likely maintain the ban on same sex marriage, when the issue comes to a vote later this year. Graham Perrett— who has two gay brothers and supports gay marriage—chairs the Australian parliamentary committee that examined gay law reform, and said that he believes a majority of lawmakers don’t share his views.