The National Catholic Education Commission has defended the right of Catholic schools to teach students the traditional definition of marriage if same-sex marriage becomes law, The Australian reports.
The NCEC issued a statement to The Australian yesterday voicing its concerns about the lack of focus on religious freedoms as well as the failure to set out the proposed changes in legislation ahead of the postal ballot.
“Without having seen the wording of legislation that is intended to enable same-sex marriage in Australian law, it is impossible to say if there will be adequate protections in place to ensure Catholic schools can continue to teach the Catholic view of marriage,” the NCEC’s statement said. “Explicit protections are needed so as to enshrine the right of all faith-based schools to teach their view of marriage, consistent with their conscientiously held religious beliefs.”
The NCEC's intervention came as Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, the Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission on Education, hit back at headlines claiming employees would be "married Sunday, fired Monday".
Archbishop Costelloe issued a statement via the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference saying that his previous statement on the issue "does not, either explicitly or implicitly, propose or suggest that, to quote one of the headlines on this matter, someone who enters into a same-sex marriage will be 'married Sunday, fired Monday'."
"Individual Catholic Bishops will, in consultation with their Directors of Catholic Education and other advisers in their own jurisdictions, make decisions about how to manage any issues which may arise, should the legal definition of marriage be changed to include same-sex couples.
"Normally such issues would be addressed, in the first instance, in discussions between the staff member concerned and the local leadership of the school. The aim would be to discover a way forward for the school and the staff member that preserves the Catholic ethos of the school. And always, of course, the well-being of the students who attend the school, and the families who choose a Catholic Education for their children, will be paramount. Young people and their families are, after all, the reason for the school's existence in the first place."
Archbishop Costelloe called again for a measured, mature and sensitive community debate as the nation prepares for the postal vote on proposed changes to the legal definition of marriage.
Coalition in danger of fight with Catholics on same-sex marriage (The Australian)
Religious freedom at risk in same-sex shift (The Australian)