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Bishop calls for a moratorium

New Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse outside St Christopher's Cathedral in Manuka.

New Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse outside St Christopher's Cathedral in Manuka. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Canberra and Goulburn's incoming Catholic Archbishop wants a moratorium called to stop the passage of any new laws on same-sex marriage.

Christopher Prowse, currently Bishop of the Sale diocese in Victoria, will take up the role of Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn in late November, and said he thought debate around equal marriage legislation took a narrow view.

He had not seen the proposed ACT bill, due to be introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday, but said generally speaking laws should not be rushed through.

"This debate is happening at a time when married life -

heterosexual married life - and family life are at a very fragile moment,'' he said.

''I think we've got to look at this particular rising topic in a calm way which is not being pressurised for time or rushed into legislation before a good, philosophical and reasoned debate can be had. I have a feeling myself that Australian society needs a lot more time to consider implications of legislation in this regard.

''I would be calling for more of a moratorium to suspend pending legislation so that we, over the next period of time, can discuss this in a more reasoned way, where both subjective and objective arguments can be put forward and discussed in an atmosphere of calm and reason, particularly holding forward the importance of traditional marriage and its role in society.''

Bishop Prowse said he believed traditional, heterosexual marriage needed protection, and while he would hear people's views, he would not be swayed by statistics showing high levels of support for same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra.

''I'm a person who is open to listening to people but I've also got plenty of opinions of my own and I think the Catholic Church's opinion on such matters - we represent a reflection on humanity going over 2000 years … I think that gives us a certain confidence to have our opinions heard and, in a reasoned way, debate with people,'' he said.

''The Catholic Church's teaching on the matter is that homosexual acts are never approved of, but persons who are of homosexual orientation, that a great deal of compassion and understanding should be shown to them.''

The stance is in contrast to his predecessor in Canberra and Goulburn, former auxiliary bishop Pat Power, who, while opposed to same-sex marriage, was ambivalent towards homosexuality.

''I think it is really important to honour homosexual people and to understand that if that is their orientation, that is the way God has made them,'' Bishop Power said at his retirement last year.

''If they are expressing their sexuality in a particular way, I don't know I would want to be too judgmental about that. I think God is often kinder in any judgments that would be made than sometimes other Christians are.''

The Australian Christian Lobby said at the weekend the ACT's proposed legislation on same-sex marriage was inappropriate and should be overridden by the federal government should it pass in the territory. But the group fell short of committing to a High Court challenge.

On a separate issue, Bishop Prowse had high praise for the work of the royal commission into institutional abuse, which began public hearings in Sydney this week. He hailed the bravery of victims who spoke out against abuse, and said the Church would support the commission and any victims in every way possible.

Bishop Prowse will be installed in a ceremony at St Christopher's Cathedral on November 19. Before then he will be on Church business in Rome and India.


  • I don't know if I'd play the "we represent a reflection on humanity going over 2000 years..." card, You guys have do alot in that time and it ain't all pretty.

    Date and time
    September 18, 2013, 8:04AM
    • > "The Catholic Church's teaching on the matter is that homosexual acts are never approved of"

      Well then the Catholic Church can get stuffed. There's nothing more to discuss.

      James Jones
      Date and time
      September 18, 2013, 8:13AM
      • The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: “Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.” (no. 2356)

        Yet the priests cannot keep it in their pants around kids and their leaders cover up these crimes of child rape and we should listen to them on the subject of marriage when they cannot even keep to their teachings against rape and child rape?

        Berlin NH
        Date and time
        September 18, 2013, 8:14AM
        • I would like to see a day when religion didn't stick it's big nose into politics.

          Date and time
          September 18, 2013, 8:15AM
          • Well actually marriage is NOT politics. Marriage is an institution created by the church. It was created for men and women, with the view they shall bear children and raise a family. Personally I am not opposed to same sex couples committing their life to each other, but by definition is it not "marriage". Perhaps we need another term?

            Date and time
            September 18, 2013, 9:14AM
          • Well actually Jessica, marriage is an ancient institution that predates recorded history. But early marriage was seen as a strategic alliance between families, with the youngsters often having no say in the matter. In some cultures, parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds.

            For the first thousand or so years of Christian history, the church did not concern itself with the business of marriage at all, because marriage was not seen as a sacrament; instead, marriage was considered a worldly and secular affair, that had everything to do with sex and property and taxes and women, and nothing to do with the higher concerns of divinity. That changed in the year 1215 AD, when the Catholic church officially took over the marriage business, as a means of exerting greater control over the unions and divorces of European royalty.

            Date and time
            September 18, 2013, 10:35AM
          • @Hewso, I would like to see a day when government wasn't being asked to stick it's big nose into our private lives under false claims of equality.
            Notice the Cardinal doesn't use the 'e' word once. The main plank of the gay lobby never makes a blip on the radar of Christian and conservative opponents.

            Date and time
            September 18, 2013, 10:36AM
          • Most people are not Catholic, and Archbishop Prowse has no right to tell them what they may or may not do, end of story.

            Marriage is a civil institution - a religious ceremony is perfectly fine, but may also be dispensed with entirely. It's up to the wishes of the happy couple, and not - not - up to the wishes of the local sticky-nosed bishop.

            J Carroway
            Date and time
            September 18, 2013, 10:43AM
          • > "Marriage is an institution created by the church."

            How clever of the church to create an institution that had already existed for thousands of years before the church was even dreamed of!

            James Jones
            Date and time
            September 18, 2013, 10:48AM
          • Marriage was not created by the Church and it should not have ownership of the term. The Church just happens to have strong views on what it should look like.

            Why does it matter if same sex unions became categorised as "marriage". How does it impact on "traditional" marriages? Does it violate your rights as a married heterosexual person? If it is about having children should unmarried people not be allowed to have children? Should people who do not want to have children be allowed to marry? So much fuss over a single word.

            The Church doesn't own "marriage"
            Date and time
            September 18, 2013, 10:52AM

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