Catholic Church makes stand at Otago gay rights forum

Mainline churches had divided opinions on the issue of same-sex marriage at a forum in Dunedin on August 11.

It had been a year this month since marriage law was amended in New Zealand to allow same-sex marriage.

Fr Mark Chamberlain told the forum that Roman Catholics remain opposed to same-sex marriage.

“In the Catholic tradition, it is not possible for marriage to be widened beyond a man and a woman.

“That’s something that’s unthinkable for the Catholic tradition.”

The Otago Daily Times reported that a questioner asked Fr Chamberlain why the Church was not shifting on gay marriage, when it is softening on other areas.

Fr Chamberlain said the Church was not changing.

Anglican Bishop Kelvin Wright of Dunedin said same-sex marriage was a “non-issue” for him, but opinions were divided in his church.

The Anglican Church is working on a way that people can disagree without being divided, he said.

The Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Bruce Hamill said his church had a conservative stance on gay marriage, which should be rethought.

He said his own view was that people supporting gay rights were more in line with the thinking of Jesus.

Methodists had moved on after agonising over the issue, Rev. Greg Hughson said.

Forum organiser and Otago University Students’ Association queer support officer Neil Ballantyne said that as a gay Christian, he found church attitudes disappointing.

It was not enough to be “middle of the road” on the issue, he said.

Churches must take a lead on the issue of gay rights, and should petition nations which actively discriminate against gay people, he argued.

The forum was jointly hosted by the University of Otago Centre for Theology and Public Issues and OUSA Queer Support.


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