Australian Catholic Church Rejects Claim That Any Staff Who Has a Same-Sex Wedding Will Be Fired

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(Courtesy of Thomas Schirrmacher)Pope Francis presiding at the Vatican Synod on Family in St. Peter's Church on Oct. 5, 2015, Vatican City.

Australia's Catholic Church recently released a statement seeking to clarify an earlier claim that they will fire any staff who has a same-sex wedding if the nation legalizes gay marriage.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday that the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart stated before Fairfax Media that the Church will fire any employees who enter a gay marriage, in a story titled "Married Sunday, fired Monday."

"Our teachers, our parish employees are expected totally to uphold the Catholic faith and what we believe about marriage," Archbishop Hart is quoted as saying.

"I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage ... People have to see in words and in example that our teaching of marriage is underlined."

In a statement released Monday on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe took issue with the interpretation of the Church's words by Fairfax Media.

"Individual Catholic Bishops will, in consultation with their Directors of Catholic education and other advisers in their own jurisdictions, make decisions about how to manage any issues that may arise, should the legal definition of marriage be changed to include same-sex couples," stated Archbishop Costelloe.

"Normally such issues would be addressed, in the first instance, in discussions between the staff member concerned and the local leadership of the school. The aim would be to discover a way forward for the school and the staff member that preserves the Catholic ethos of the school."

Australia will hold a postal plebiscite vote to offer public feedback on whether or not the Pacific nation should legalize same-sex marriage. Polls indicate that a strong majority of the country favors legalization.

The postal vote has garnered controversy, including from pro-LGBT groups that fear that such a vote will generate a wave of bigotry and others who feel it is a waste of time since it would not change the law.

For their part, the large and influential Australia-based megachurch Hillsong Church has encouraged Christians throughout the country to take part in the plebiscite.

"Changing the definition of marriage has wide-reaching ramifications and should not be taken lightly by any society. All Australians should be a part of this process, not just a select few," wrote Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston.

"For Christians, the issue is also a matter of faith and biblical teaching, something that should never be mocked or downplayed by those with opposing views."

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