Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous has called on parents of Catholic school students to support him in preserving the schools’ Catholic identity, The Mercury reports.
Speaking at a Tasmanian Catholic Schools’ Parents and Friends Council conference, the Archbishop said he would be “following developments very closely”, in relation to the marriage postal survey and the potential introduction of laws to enable same-sex marriage in Australia.
“I will be taking steps next year, as part of what I am calling the Matrimonium Project, to develop solid teaching on sexuality, gender and marriage which will be implemented in our schools,” Archbishop Porteous said.
“I am committed to preserving Catholic teaching as outlined in authoritative documents like the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
About half of the students enrolled in Tasmanian Catholic schools are Catholic.
Archbishop Porteous said “activists” were “seeking to introduce programs which radically rewrite the meaning of sexuality, gender, relationships and marriage”.
He cited the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, launched under former prime minister Tony Abbott, which is no longer offered in Tasmania. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull scrapped federal funding for the program after outcry from conservatives.
Archbishop Porteous said a change to the Marriage Act “will give activists more courage in pursuing their ends”.
In response to religious schools’ concerns, federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has said: “The Sexual Discrimination Act provisions that allow for faith-based schools to teach according to the doctrines of their faith will in no way be changed by either this postal survey, or any of the legislation that’s come before the parliament which would enact marriage equality.”
Archbishop Porteous told the parents and friends conference delegates they were moving into uncertain times concerning the Catholic identity of their schools.
“We must be vigilant as we move forward. I believe we will be sorely tested in the time ahead as we seek to preserve the Catholic identity of our schools,” he said. “I look to parents to support me in this effort.”