Catholic and Anglican leaders and Wodonga evangelical church chief give views on gay marriage postal vote process

Worried: Bishop of Wangaratta John Parkes is concerned debate around gay marriage linked with a postal vote will be damaging.

Worried: Bishop of Wangaratta John Parkes is concerned debate around gay marriage linked with a postal vote will be damaging.

THE Catholic bishop for North East Victoria is praying for respectful debate over gay marriage, while his Anglican peer fears a postal vote will be “very destructive”. 

Catholic Bishop Les Tomlinson said his church remained committed to wedlock being between a man and a woman but wanted all people treated with “dignity and respect”. 

“As the secular society seeks to answer the question as to whether it redefines marriage, I pray that we treat each other with respect and not resort to emotive or insulting language or behaviour,” Bishop Tomlinson said.

Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta John Parkes, who supports gay marriage, said he believed a postal vote was “pretty unsatisfactory”.

“I think the process is not ideal and I fear that the level of campaigning will prove very destructive, especially for young LGBTI people and that causes me great concern,” Bishop Parkes said.

“Young gay people’s suicide rate is greater than the national average and I fear this will only do damage.”

Pastor at Wodonga’s New Life Chapel Michael Geerling welcomed the postal vote.

“A large part of the community I feel don’t want to engage in the debate because it gets nasty very quickly,” Pastor Geerling said.

“I think the plebiscite is essential because it will help people have a voice.”

Pastor Geerling said although he believed in traditional marriage he would not be telling his flock of 700 what to do.

Time for respect: Catholic Bishop of Sandhurst Les Tomlinson believes arguments around gay marriage should go beyond emotion and superficiality.

Time for respect: Catholic Bishop of Sandhurst Les Tomlinson believes arguments around gay marriage should go beyond emotion and superficiality.

Lavington Catholic priest Peter Murphy says his church believes a child has a “right to a mum and dad, that’s how we will pitch it”.

Thurgoona Catholic priest John Fowles, like Father Murphy, said he would not be sermonising on the issue during the postal campaign.

“I guess most people I’m in contact with understand it fairly well, they don’t need the church to tell them,” Father Fowles said.

“I think the silent majority understands the family is the foundation of society.

“If we lose the concept of marriage we would lose the concept of family and people don’t need me to tell them that.”

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