If Pope Francis is a Catholic, what is Tony Abbott?

As David Marr reminded us in his 2012 Quarterly Essay, Political Animal: the Making of Tony Abbott, Abbott’s Catholicism was groomed by the highly charismatic and worldly Emmet Costello, the priest he met as a 16-year-old.

It went on to flourish under the tutelage of Bob Santamaria.

Abbott was and is on a mission from God. Or is he? Let’s look at his position on same-sex marriage.

He opposes it. This year, he’s on a non-stop bender to stop those of the same sex from marrying in the way he married Margie or the way godless me married my equally godless husband.

He’s even allowed his family to be torn asunder while he campaigns. His daughter Frances is taking the side of her aunt Christine Forster, Abbott’s sister and a same-sex marriage proponent.

This year, he’s talked about the institution of marriage and said his opposition is not about religion but about tradition.

But last year was different. He gave a speech in Queensland to honour the memory of his former headmaster Greg Jordan. In it, he talked about the threats to religion if same-sex marriage was legalised.

“Some of the institutions and the values that have most helped to shape and to define Western civilisation – Christianity, the church and the crown – now tend to be those most frequently under fire … the traditional concept of marriage won’t be maintained by a claim that the church’s right to free speech is under threat – though it is.

“It will only be maintained by preserving or by rebuilding the old consensus that, ideally at least, marriage is an exclusive union entered into for life by one man with one woman in the expectation of children.”

The church matters desperately to Abbott when it comes to same-sex marriage – but not when it comes to climate change.

Last week, when Tony Abbott gave a speech called titled “daring to doubt” to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in Britain, he said: “In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it is accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”  Continue reading

  • Jenna Price is a Fairfax columnist, and an academic at the University of Technology, Sydney.


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