Pastoral Letter on the True Meaning of Marriage

The Catholic Bishops of Victoria have issued a pastoral letter on the ‘True Meaning of Marriage’. The letter presents the Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage and urges all Catholics to respond to the Federal Government’s on-line survey (see below). The survey will only take a few minutes.

The pastoral letter can be downloaded from: here

Federal Government Survey

On 13 February 2012 the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced by Mr Bandt MP and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced by Mr Jones MP. The two bills amend the Marriage Act 1961 to:

  • legalise same sex marriage in Australia,
  • continue to impose no obligation on authorised celebrants, being ministers of religion, to perform any marriage, including same sex marriages, and
  • recognise same sex marriages performed in foreign countries.

This survey, illustrated below, will inform the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs regarding community views on the Bills.  You have less than a week to ensure your view is read by the Committee.


The Current Law Regarding Marriage – Australian Federal Marriage Act 1961

Section 5 of the Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as follows:

“Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Marriage is between a man and a woman

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in Dec 1948, states (Article 16):

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

In a 1999 case brought before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), arguing for homosexual rights under Article 16, the UNHCR determined:

“Use of the term “men and women” (in Article 16) … has been consistently and uniformly understood as indicating that the treaty obligation of States parties … is to recognize as marriage only the union between a man and a woman wishing to marry each other.” (Emphasis added)






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