Australia’s most senior catholic, Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart has pointedly warned the church’s 180,000 employees, which comprise teachers, nurses and administrators among others, they were expected to uphold its teachings “totally”, and defiance would be treated “very seriously” he continued: “I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage” and “any words or actions which work contrary to that would be viewed very seriously” This was backed up by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, chair of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, who cautioned teachers against “undermining” their schools’ values if same-sex marriage became law. However, this wasn’t unanimously supported. Catholic Health Australia, the country’s largest non-government, non-profit health group, distanced itself from the bishops’ threats1.
As the CEO of Catholic Health, Suzanne Greenwood, said: “we are not converting people to Catholicism” and “It’s not really relevant to the jobs people are performing within the care environment at a hospital or an aged care facility”, and noted that they do not screen people for sexuality or marital status and could not see any reason that would be changed1. She might have a fight on her hands from the befrocked old guard.
The fact that these old men in frocks consider that the job of some of their employees is to teach children the ‘Catholic view of marriage’ simply demonstrates that they are not teaching reading, writing and arithmetic alone, but attempting to indoctrinate children into being future pew-warmers. Keeping bums on seats in a rapidly diminishing franchise in western democracies is their main concern2. Those with no religion now outnumber Catholics in Australian society, and the numbers of people with no religion will continue to grow. That and their concomitant loss of power over people scares the hell out of these old men in frocks.
So, the Catholic Church will sack people despite the fact that being in a same-sex marriage will have no effect on their ability to do their job as nurses, teachers or administrators. They will just be sacked because some celibate old men find the expression of love and commitment between two people who happen to be of the same-sex somehow repugnant, based on the current, transient, interpretation of their holy book. Whichever way you look at that, it is simple bigotry. It is just another example of the great Christian dichotomy3. If a company sacked someone for being in a same-sex relationship, whether married or not, they would be liable for prosecution. That should also apply to the Catholic Church.