“The intention was to inform the debate as leader of the Catholic Church in Tasmania, to ensure the Catholic community understood where we stand on the issue of marriage.”
He said it was not his intention to offend.
“I regret if offense has been taken by individuals, and will work with the Commission to resolve this matter,” he said.
After agreeing to conciliation, the archbishop said he wanted to “see if we can find a way forward.”
In reaction to the complaint, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman told parliament that current legislation might need revision to ensure that all viewpoints can be expressed, the Australian Associated Press reports.
Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, speaking at a forum at the Australian Catholic University in October, said the law should be changed to avoid similar complaints.
Professor Michael Quinlan, Dean of Law at University of Notre Dame Australia’s Sydney campus, said that the complaint could have a chilling effect.
“If even Catholic bishops are unable to write to parishioners and parents and students studying in Catholic schools, setting out their views on marriage without fear of prosecution, it is hard to see how the rest of the country can discuss the issues ahead of the plebiscite which has been foreshadowed.”
On Nov. 12 Senator Eric Abetz proposed a motion in the federal parliament to support the Catholic Church’s right to distribute the pamphlet. A vote on the motion was blocked by members of the Labor and Greens parties.
LGBT activists have previously filed a complaint concerning the booklet.
In June 2015 Randy Croome, national director of the gay marriage advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality, claimed the booklet is illegal under Tasmanian law.
Archbishop Fisher on Nov. 13 said he was consoled by statements of support from Catholics and other people of good will.
“I intend to keep speaking up for Christian beliefs, always respectfully, never with prejudice or hatred; I hope our democracy will treat me with the same courtesy.”
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