Marriage & Same Sex Attraction (1)

(Frequently Asked Questions Part 1 of 10: Introduction & Main Menu)


This document has been prepared by the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which is the national body of the Catholic Bishops of Australia. It is issued with the authority of the Catholic Bishops of Australia.

The purpose of the document is to present and explain the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage and, in particular, that marriage is and should only mean “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.1

While Catholic teaching is only binding upon the 22.6% of the population who hold and profess the Catholic faith, the Catholic understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of a man and a woman is shared by the majority of other Christian denominations and other non-Christian faiths. Catholics, as citizens of a pluralist democratic society have the same right as all other citizens to present their views on changes to laws which affect social or moral issues. This document, then, is also addressed to all Australian citizens to explain the rationale for the Catholic stance in relation to the meaning of marriage. This stance continues irrespective of the recent amendments to the Marriage Act that changed the legal definition of marriage to encompass both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Further, it is also part of the Church’s mission to take a moral stance even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of human beings or the salvation of souls requires it. The Church has a duty to shed the light of the Gospel on human beings and society.2

The document contains 46 questions and answers, broken down under the following 9 headings. Further references are set out at the end of the publication.

1. Definition contained in the Marriage Act 1961, prior to the 8 December 2017 amendment that redefined marriage to include couples of the same sex.
2. CCC 2246, 2257


Main Menu

2. The Catholic Understanding of Marriage

3. The Meaning of Marriage & Sexual Difference

4. The Gift of Children

5. The Common Good & Human Dignity

6. Rights of any Couple to Marry

7. The Rights of Children

8. Religious Freedom

9. Background – Catholic Church Teaching on Homosexuality

The Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council has prepared this Question and Answer Booklet for the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.


Catholic Church Marriage & Same Sex Attraction FAQ List of Abbreviations

CA – Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Centesimus Annus (1991)

CCC – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (2000)

CDF 1986 – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual persons (1986)

CDF 1992 – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons (1992)

CV – Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate (2009)

CSDC – Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004)

DH – Second Vatican Council, Declaration Dignitatis Humanae (1965)

FC – Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1982)

GS – Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes (1965)

LF – Pope John Paul II, Letter to Families (1994)

LL – USCCB, Pastoral Letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan (2009)

PP – Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967)

RN – Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891)

TOB – Pope John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, trans. Michael Waldstein (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2006). Other English versions are available online at EWTN’s website and at the Vatican website.



Key References

The official (Magisterial) teaching of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality and Marriage is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993) , and in three documents of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Sacrament of Matrimony
Download from link: CCC – The Sacrament of Matrimony

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  The Sixth Commandment (Especially Paragraphs 2357-2359)
Download from link: CCC – The Sixth Commandment

Declaration on Certain Questions of Sexual Ethics: (CDF, 1975)
Download from link: Declaration on Sexual Ethics

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person (CDF, 1986):
Download from link: Pastoral Care of Homosexual persons

Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (CDF, 2003)
Download from link: Legal Recognition of Homosexual Unions


In May 2015, the Catholic Bishops of Australia issued a Pastoral Letter “to all Australians” on the ‘Same-sex Marriage’ Debate, entitled “Don’t mess with Marriage”. This summarises why the Catholic Church opposes moves to broaden the legal definition of marriage to include ‘same-sex’ relationships.

A Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Australia to all Australians on the ‘Same-sex Marriage’ Debate
Download from link: ‘Same-sex’ Marriage Pastoral Letter


The following submissions by the Catholic Church in Australia to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 also elaborate on Catholic Church teaching on marriage and same-sex attraction.

Submission 113: His Eminence Cardinal George Pell AC, Archbishop of Sydney
Download from link: (PDF 4791KB)

Submission 5: Opening Statement tabled by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at public hearing on Thursday 3 May 2012
Download from link: (PDF 1073KB)

Submission 234: Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
>Download from link: (PDF 113KB)


Catholic Teaching on Marriage is summarised in the following “Frequently Asked Questions” Booklet.

Marriage in the Catholic Church: Frequently Asked Questions Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, 2006.
Download from link: Marriage in the Catholic Church
Other Non Catholic Church References

Regnerus, Mark: How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. Social Science Research 41 (2012) 752–770.


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