Catholic Bishop Paul Bird issues letter on marriage debate

BALLARAT’S top Catholic has issued an open letter to church-goers that urged them to consider Pope Francis’ position on same-sex marriage.

The carefully worded letter from Ballarat Diocese Bishop Paul Bird did not tell parishioners how to vote in the current federal government postal survey on same-sex marriage.

However it did detail “observations” Pope Francis made in a document issued last year titled, The Joy of Love: On Love in the Family.

The letter was sent to Catholic parishes in the diocese.

In an email given to Fairfax Media, St Francis Xavier Primary School principal Paul Bissinella told parents he had been asked to provide a copy to each family in the school.

The Ballarat Catholic Education Office referred requests for comment to the Ballarat diocese.

In the letter Bishop Bird said Pope Francis was recognised as someone who showed deep respect for each person.

“He has often spoken of the need for the church to be close to people and walk with them in the complexity of their daily lives,” he said.

“This sensitivity to people’s different situations does not prevent the Pope from highlighting what he sees as the special value of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“It is appropriate that this particular relationship has a particular name. The name the Pope uses is marriage.”

The stance of Horsham churches regarding same-sex marriage remains the word of God as a union between one man and one woman.  

The Lutheran Church of Australia Bishop Reverend John Henderson told the Wimmera Mail-Times this week the church did not seek to force its own views on the rest of society should it want to think differently. 

Assembly of God pastor Derek Bodycote said the church did not support same-sex marriage because of the “issues” that would follow. 

“If the law goes through all the schools will be forced to do LBGTIQ teaching, which we are against because that would be grooming children into homosexuality and lesbianism,” he said.

Uniting Church president Stuart McMillian said the church’s definition of marriage was between a man and a woman.

However, he said the church was committed to being an inclusive church that embraced LGBTIQ people. 

Horsham’s Ss Michael and John’s Catholic Church did not return calls.