26 October 2017

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

A leading Australian Catholic theologian has criticised pronouncements by Fr Frank Brennan SJ and high-profile journalist Greg Sheridan on same-sex marriage as dissenting from Catholic teaching on marriage.

Both Father Brennan, a Jesuit priest, and Mr Sheridan, a highly-regarded foreign affairs journalist for The Australian newspaper who is also a Catholic, have publically supported same-sex marriage in recent months.

Both have argued that a Catholic can in good conscience support same-sex marriage for the common good of society while maintaining a personal belief in sacramental marriage as taught by the Church.

However Dr Conor Sweeney, a lecturer at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, says the statements to this point by the two are a serious issue and incompatible with their faith.

"For Catholics such as Brennan and Sheridan it is incompatible with their faith to support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same sex couples," Dr Sweeney wrote in an opinion piece which appears in this weekend's edition of The Catholic Weekly.

"While they might still seek to advocate a 'yes' vote it needs to be clear that this would involve dissenting from Catholic teaching and place one in an irregular relationship with the Church."

It is not possible for Catholics to support the re-definition of marriage to include members of the same gender, Dr Sweeney wrote.

However, he pointed out, the Church does recognise civil marriages as real unions.

"A validly contracted natural or 'civil' marriage between a man and a woman (that is, a marriage taken up outside of the sacramental and canonical regulations of the Church) is also a real marriage on the basis that it belongs to the enduring integrity of this original 'order of creation'," he wrote.

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