Principal's Blog - 21 September 2017

20 Sep 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

I have been reflecting recently on the question of same sex marriage. There is a great deal of opinion and editorial being spoken and written by many in our community and it becomes easy to be side tracked by the agendas of individuals and groups in our society and to lose sight of the issue upon which, the vote is being decided. The postal survey we have all received from the Australian Bureau of Statistics simply asks us all as Australians: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Yes or No. However, it appears at times, that the question has been hi-jacked for the purposes of other agendas.

Some would suggest that the vote is a threat to freedom of speech. This is not correct. Instances of intimidation and targeting of advocates on all sides of the debate are unacceptable. All of us have a responsibility to campaign respectfully, and to not use arguments that are offensive, untrue or deliberately provocative. In his recent letter to Marist Principal’s the National Director of Marist Schools Australia, Dr. Frank Malloy, emphasised this message when he quoted Bishop James Foley of Cairns, who stated…it is tragically paradoxical that hate speech may now be occurring on and around such sacred ground as deep loving relationships 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.

The Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson speaks of the spirit in which we should enter this debate. I ask Catholics to enter this community discernment…in a spirit of grace, calm reverence and respect. There will be no place in this dialogue for criticism, abuse or denigration of other people or their individual choices.

There are those too who suggest that this vote threatens religious freedom. This is also not correct. Section 116 of the Australian Constitution protects religious freedom, stating: “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for…prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.” Last week both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Federal Opposition made clear statements that Freedom of Religion would not be compromised whichever way the vote goes.  Having said that we all need to remain vigilant in this area to ensure that there is on going support for and respect of freedom of religion in our country.

Many believe also that this is a vote about the acceptance or rejection of same-sex attracted people or more broadly the LGBTQI members of our community. As the Archbishop of Perth, Tim Costelloe points out, it is not being suggested… that there should be any unjust discrimination against same sex couples. Nor does it suggest that legal protections and government benefits should be denied to same sex-couples. Many of us have family and friends in same-sex relationships: we love and respect them and want to see them treated with dignity.

The view of our shared Catholic Tradition is founded in the belief that marriage is a Sacrament, a life giving commitment made to another, in which God is present. Bishop Greg O’Kelly of Port Pirie stated that the Christian tradition of marriage has two aspects of the mutual support and love of a man and a woman, and openness to procreation, to bearing human life.  Pope Francis himself whilst advocating that the sacrament of marriage within the Catholic tradition should take place between a man and a woman also suggests that…"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?".

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Very Reverend Denis Hart whilst also supporting the sacramentality of marriage suggests in a similar way… We as a church affirm the dignity of all those who identify as having a same sex orientation. Like all human beings they are created in the image and likeness of God. They have a right to expect to be loved and welcomed and not subject to unjust discrimination.

In his apostolic declaration on family life Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) Pope Francis urges the Church to be more accepting of same sex relationships:

The Church makes her own the attitude of the Lord Jesus, who offers his boundless love to each person without exception. During the Synod, we discussed the situation of families whose members include persons who experience same-sex attraction, a situation not easy either for parents or for children. We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while 'every sign of unjust discrimination' is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence. (250)

At Marcellin our deep pastoral concern and support is given to the young men in our community who identify as gay and we actively seek to educate and model respect among all students. Marcellin College remains an inclusive, relational and hope-filled community. This is consistent with Saint Marcellin Champagnat's call to raise children "You must love them, and love them all equally". I believe as Christians we ultimately need to search our own hearts and the depths of our faith for the right answer to all things.


With deepest Sympathy
In the last week our College has experienced the deep sadness of the loss of loved ones in our broader Marcellin family. On behalf of the Marcellin Collage community I would like to send my deepest sympathies to the De Melis family, wife Paz and children Damien, Year 11 and Michael, Grade 5 on the passing of husband and father Gene following an illness. 

We pray too for Elena Cappellari Mother of four Old Collegians James (Class of 2008), Mark (2010), David (2013), Andrew (2015) and wife of Frank who passed away early on Sunday morning after a battling cancer.

Finally I wish for us to remember Louise Cusack (Staff member) and her family as they mourn the loss of Louise’ mother Maria Cavallaro who died after a long illness.

We take comfort in the words of John….

Jesus said to his disciples. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so. I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to be with me that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me you will know my father also. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.

Eternal rest grant to Ann O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon her.
May her soul and the souls of the faithful departed
through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Mark Murphy