From the Principal (Issue 14 2017)

Written on the 14 September 2017

Dear members of the Sacred Heart College community,

Postal Plebiscite on the legal definition of marriage
As the voting process gets underway on the issue of the Plebiscite to alter the legal definition of marriage, there is an opportunity to consider the 'Marist' perspective on the issue. Dr Frank Malloy (National Director of Marist Schools Australia) shared his thoughts and a few pertinent resources with Marist Principals recently. The spirit of Dr Malloy's message is one of respectful engagement based on Gospel teachings. Frank also draws reference to notable Marist Old Scholars' views on this issue. The following are worth considering:

Archbishop Tim Costelloe SBD, in his pastoral letter to the people of Perth, clearly indicated his desire to "propose" rather than "impose" the Catholic position on the issue. The Archbishop of Adelaide, Phillip Wilson (St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill) invited all Catholics to exercise their right and duty as citizens to engage in this community discernment and to dialogue in a spirit of grace, calm reverence and respect, and with an absence of criticism, abuse or denigration of other people or their individual choices. Archbishop Wilson identified the debate as an opportunity for Catholics to witness our deep commitment to marriage in a way that might convince others by the depth of our faith and our respect for all.

Bishop James Foley of Cairns (Marist College, Ashgrove) wrote a pastoral letter on the topic, which identified the complex and personal nature of the issue. Bishop James emphasised the following:

  • The Jewish/Christian commitment is to care deeply for every person, especially those who differ from myself, (The Good Samaritan [Lk 10/29-37]) with the absolute primacy above all other Commandments of loving of God and loving of all others.
  • On these two Commandments hang the whole Law (including Lev. 18/22 and 20/3) and the Prophets also (Mt. 22/40).
  • In Christian speech there can be no place for hate speech. Yet it is tragically paradoxical that hate speech may now be occurring on and around such sacred ground as deep loving friendships and particularly about that most sensitive and intimate of all human experiences: loving sexual expression! It is such a pathetic irony that loving friendship would ever become a battlefield for hurting or worse, hating.

Father Frank Brennan SJ (Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services Australia) said he continued to espouse the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage - that it is between a man and a woman - but this had to be separated from civil marriage, which was the question before the Australian people.

Dr Malloy concludes, 'It is clear from the carefully chosen words... that in preparation for this postal plebiscite, we need to encourage one another to bring to bear on the issue an informed conscience, prayerfulness, deep reflection, and respect. One can be confident Jesus would ask nothing less.'

So, as our nation considers its views and exercises its democratic rights by way of the plebiscite, I would ask you to consider what 'family spirit' truly means in light of the above reflections around the plebiscite.

Kind Regards,

Steve Byrne



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