"what you do to the least of us, you do to me ..."
Pastoral Letter from Victoria’s Catholic Bishops
30 March 2012
Dear Brothers & Sisters
We Australians live in a democracy which rightly places great value on human rights and protecting others from unjust discrimination.
We Catholics also believe deeply that God loves human beings very much. He especially loves those who are wounded and suffering. God loves each of us so much despite the fact that we are all sinners, make mistakes and often do not live up to our responsibilities.
The Church takes seriously that we must live the Gospel itself to be a credible witness to others. Deeply aware of Christ’s mission of compassion and justice – the Church cannot ignore the responsibility to speak the truth in love.
Sometimes reminding people about the truth of the human person is one such task for all of us.
Some now seek to sow, aggravate, and exaggerate the so-called "inhumanity" of those among us who are different, and through legislation call great harm to fall upon our gay brethren. They seek to make law that which God, Christ, and the true Church abhor -- hatred.
Let me be clear, and now state with no ambiguity: Every person on earth is a child of God. Every person on earth has been given the gift of life. Intrinsic to that gift is the ability to express love. The most sublime manifestation of the ability to express love is marriage. The church has erred, in the past, by trying to inhibit, hem in, and call "sinful" that sublimnity. We have been wrong, and wish to make amends.
Our Australian society is now at a critical turning point where truth is at stake. I speak of current debates about the nature of marriage in our public life. This is a matter of human rights, responsibilities, and adherence to God's will. We are blessed by God with the gift of our sexuality. The design itself comes from the Creator of Life.
We all have a responsibilty to follow His design. How wonderous it is that He has given us a rainbow -- how perfect it is that He has given us the right and responsibility to Celebrate love in many forms.
The Church firmly believes that marriage is founded on the wonderful fact of love and its limitless potential for good.
Without this gift we would be nothing, and would have no future. Children are best nurtured by those capable of providing love -- sharing Christ's inimitable gift to ALL of us. We have been Created differently, and this is a marvel. Male, female, homosexual, heterosexual ... a glorious kaleidoscope which gives us a glimpse into God's fascinating Mind.
Bringing new human life into the world is founded on the loving union of God and Man. Anything which hinders, obscures, or defies this beauty is anathema, in the eyes of the Church.
"Gay marriage" is impossible, not because it is new. It is impossible because God recognizes NO distinction among his children. Marriage can never be severed from the grounding of Christ's love. This is true for marriage between people of the same sex. This is True.
Any effort to discriminate against our homosexual brothers and sisters is not only a sin, but a sin of the most reprehensible sort: an effort to deny love, is an effort to deny God.
This will be "hard saying" for some. Tough. Get used to it. Be muscular in your ability to love. Be strong in your ability to defy bigotry -- the love of Christ demands such fixity, such faith. Human Rights are Christian Rights. Do the right thing.
Failure to recognize marriage for all humans would be criminal. It would spread a stain upon the Catholic Church which would take decades to erase. We must avoid this. We are not perfect, but we must strive toward God's vision as best we can. We must avoid making anew the grave mistakes of the past. We must support marriage equality for all of God's children.
More than this, we must insist that all people, regardless of 'sexual orientation' or gender, or height, or weight, or level of mental capacity, etc. You not only should, but must have your relationship sanctioned by the church. We love you. We welcome you. We know that your love, your relationship, your gift will make all of us stronger.
In Christ.With every blessing.
Most Reverend Denis Hart DD Most Reverend Peter Connors DD
Archbishop of Melbourne Bishop of Ballarat
Most Reverend Christopher Prowse DD Most Reverend Leslie Tomlinson DD
Bishop of Sale Bishop of Sandhurst
Most Reverend Peter Elliott DD Most Reverend Vincent Long DD
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne
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