Catholic Church in Australia Expresses 'Grave Concern' Over Businesses That Support Gay Marriage

Pope Francis
Pope Francis addresses crowd at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. An LGBT activist holds a banner during a rally supporting same-sex marriage in Sydney, Australia, May 31, 2015. |

The Catholic Church in Sydney, Australia, has issued letters to businesses that publicly support gay marriage, expressing "grave concern" over their stance and accusing them of "overstepping their purpose."

These businesses recently participated in an open letter posted on the website of the advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality that supports the legalization of gay marriage in the country.

The Catholic Church stated its concern in a letter to Steve Walsh, chairman of the law firm Maurice Blackburn, who signed the open letter to support gay marriage on behalf of his company.

Michael Digges, business manager of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, reminded Walsh in the letter that the church is a "significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international," and that many of his "employees, customers, partners, suppliers" are also Catholic, according to The Guardian.

Digges accused the company of "overstepping their purpose" and questioned if the role of corporations is to help change the Australian government's Marriage Act to recognize gay marriage.

"I wonder whether you have questioned whether it is the role of a corporation such as yours to be participating in such an important matter that impacts all of Australian society now and into the future," wrote Digges.

"For corporations to speak on such issues on behalf of shareholders, employees, clients/customers, suppliers and other stakeholders is indeed overstepping their purpose and is to be strongly resisted."

Maurice Blackburn's principal Liberty Sanger responded to the letter by telling the ABC that the law firm is not intimidated.

"Now it may well be that their intention was to try and frighten us into not participating in the debate," said Blackburn. "If that was the objective, well it's had … obviously had the opposite effect."

Maurice Blackburn joined more than 180 companies including McDonalds, MTV, Pandora and Levi's in issuing a statement in support of Australia changing the Marriage Act to recognize gay marriage.

The Australian Marriage Act of 1961 was a law established by the Australian Parliament and only recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in May that his country will not hold a referendum on legalizing gay marriage despite pressure from other politicians.

"Referendums are held in this country when there is a proposal to change our constitution and I don't think anyone is suggesting the constitution needs to be changed in this respect," said Abbott shortly after the referendum in Ireland which legalized gay marriage in the nation.

"It's up to members of parliament who are eager for change to decide whether they want to bring it forward."

The Australian government permits gay couples to enter civil unions, but not marriage.

Contact:; follow me on Twitter @vinfunaro

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