The marriage debate in Australia has picked up momentum and the Catholic Church has come out on the defense of the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In a statement Tuesday, Archbishop George Pell of Sydney said it is not discrimination to say that same-sex marriage will take society in the wrong direction.
He added that restricting marriage to heterosexual couples is “a worthwhile reinforcement of traditional marriage as the basic building block of society.”
He added that the government's amendments to the 1961 Marriage Act deserve bipartisan support, “for the good of all Australians.”
Legalizing same-sex marriage would weaken significantly the place of traditional marriage in society and “bring with it instability and further confusion,” he said.
“The benefits and advantages of traditional marriage are not a matter of interpretation, opinion or religious belief. They are matters of hard fact, as evidenced by decades of international research,” said the archbishop, citing a long list of findings.
“Apart from the greater chance of happiness which marriage brings to parents and children, it helps to reduce social problems, especially among the young, and so the need for welfare, health, police and prison services,” he argued.
While his comments were not intended to “condemn devoted parents in situations other than marriage, single parents, often heroic, and de facto couples …the reality is, generally, married couples and children – and society – do better,” the bishop said.
“This is why governments should support traditional marriage over other types of relationships and protect it from being undermined by measures such as same-sex marriage,” and encourage natural parents to found their families in marriage, the bishop argued.
“Allowing same-sex couples to marry would worsen the situation of the family in Australia, not help it. It would erode traditional marriage as the norm for most men and women, and raise difficult dilemmas in relation to issues such as the adoption of children,” who, he said, have a right to a mother and father.
“It is not discrimination to say that same-sex marriage takes us in the wrong direction,” he said.