You can vote No with love: Alice priest

2482 Asaeli Raass OKLETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – I propose to say No to same-sex marriage with love and respect for those in same-sex relationships.

 

Two of the basic meanings for the existence of the two human sexes are companionship and procreation. Both are inherently linked to marriage.

 

This link elevates procreation to be more than just a biological function. Human beings do not anonymously meet and mate and move on.

 

For humans, procreation de facto begins prior to the union of egg and sperm, with the establishment of a loving, complementary community of two persons with the ability and desire to conceive and welcome a child. We name this status a marriage.

 

After conception, procreation continues with the contribution by both mother and father to their child of the love and attention, education and guidance every developing human being needs and to which each is entitled.

 

This bearing and raising of children is so serious that the Catholic Church views marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman.

 

It is so serious that the Federal Government of Australia licenses marriage, and deems it necessary to attach legal consequences, benefits and responsibilities.

 

Consequently, the church’s opposition to same sex marriage is based on more than the procreative dimension of marriage. The church also understands the unity of marriage is a complementarity and  union whose essence involves a relationship which transcends sexual differences. Gay and lesbian contradict both the procreative and unitive dimension of marriage.

 

To vote Yes is to deny the inherent procreative nature of marriage and therefore changes its definition. It also voids it.

 

The law of the land cannot require a married couple to have children any more than it can force them to love each other or stay together for life.

 

But, at the very least, the law can require that a marriage be modelled in accord with its inherent procreative nature which means, of course, a male and a female.

 

If one eliminates procreation from the basic definition of marriage, on what legal basis could one stop three people from getting married, or a mother and a son or a girl and a tree, etc.?

 

The most basic and ideal building block of society and our communities is the biological family – mother, father and children.

 

This is also based on natural law and divine revelation. The benefits given already by the Australian Government to married couples endorse this basic premise that a healthy society needs children conceived and nurtured in a loving family environments in order to become productive and contributing adults.

 

These are not simply privileges and rights for married couples so much as they are endorsement and support for families.

 

My government license to legally conduct a church wedding exits, then, for the benefit of a permanent union that presumes children and, therefore, for society’s healthy and productive future. Simply put, the license is primarily for the sake of the children, not the couple.

 

Therefore, any discussion of “same-sex marriage / partnership / union” that misses this point will become mired in confusion.

 

The reality is there is a great diversity of living arrangements that have existed in our world today. And our Judaeo-Christian framework also demands that we treat every person as made in the very image and likeness of God.

 

All are broken but loved. God does not hate gays and lesbians. God desires all homosexuals not to bury themselves in shame with something they never chose. And the word “homosexual” is an adjective and describes only part of who a person is.

 

It is not caused by sinfulness nor is it a pathological problem that needs a cure. The church is not going to “force you out of the closet” and your parents are not to receive the blame for it.

 

Therefore, an environment of indifference that shames those who have same-sex attraction is self-destructing and alienating. Homosexual persons are not objects of scorn and any laws which discriminate against homosexual people perpetrate a great moral evil that must be resisted.

 

The church disavows all forms of unjust discrimination because Jesus Christ commands us all to “love one another”.

 

Whatever our sexual orientation is, we need to know that our true identity is not our sexual attraction but: a creature of merciful God, and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life.

 

But every sexuality is different and the law must respect differences. Justice requires it. By voting No, I am in no way being disrespectful to gay people nor am I making anybody less equal.

 

This is a vote on the time-tested nature of marriage not about denigrating or silencing those in same-sex relationship.

 

If at the end of the day, the Yes votes win, the church’s understanding of marriage will remain and she will still fully support the full dignity, due to each and every person, no matter their sexual orientation.

 

Father Asaeli Raass SVD (pictured)
Parish Priest, OLSH Catholic Church,

Alice Springs

 

 

 

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27 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Michael
    Posted September 30, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Laws are created to regulate what people are already doing.
    Thousands of same-sex couples already exist.
    Marriage simply gives those couples the security of having a single document that confirms the legal status of their existing relationship, in any state or country.
    Thus, marriage is about people being equal before the law.
    Equality is a fundamental concept in our legal system, and a basic tenet of international human rights.
    We should not have a plebiscite to confirm a human right! It only serves to expose the bigotry of some people and religions.
    In our world today, we need to learn more ways to work together!

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  2. Number 19
    Posted September 30, 2017 at 8:48 am

    @ John Bell: I didn’t say that. Actually I just pointed out that that is what Mr Raass said. He said it and then promotes discrimination? Weird.

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  3. John Bell
    Posted September 30, 2017 at 7:31 am

    @ Number 19: You say that all discrimination is morally wrong. However, fair and reasonable discrimination is everywhere around us.
    I do not know what your gender is, but I think we would all agree with the discrimination that does not permit a male to enter female toilet.
    The word “discrimination” has been captured by the PC brigade at the Human Rights Commission and enshrined in the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 as part of the secular new age moral gospel on right and wrong.
    The Human Rights zealots have re-shaped the word to mean whatever they want it to mean. For example, they authorise discrimination in favour of certain groups in our society as morally good in Section 9 and Section 10 of the Act.
    In those Sections of the Act have re-badged the word “discrimination””and now call it “Special Measures”.
    It is an in-house term, used by their lawyers in courts and tribunals when accusing respondents of discrimination against their clients under the Act.
    They hace also referred to S.9 and S.10 to excuse their own clients’ discriminatory actions.
    In other parts of the Act they give exemptions as they see fit for discriminatory behaviour. In other words, they claim that discrimination is only bad when applied by certain individuals or groups against other individuals or groups in our society in certain circumstances.
    The word “discrimination” has been effectively and morally re-shaped in their own image by this secular authority.
    At first glance, this is a bit Big Brother authoritarian and hypocritical, don’t you think?
    So: Is it OK for secular discrimination by the Pitt Street mob but not by Christian faiths?

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  4. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 29, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Sue, I have respect for homosexuals who come in the open (I have some in my family and a lot of friends).
    But we talking only of equality for heterosexuality and homosexuality. In this case why ignoring bisexuality?
    To be a heterosexual man or woman means having a personally significant and meaningful romantic and/or sexual attraction primarily to adults of the opposite sex.
    To be a homosexual man or woman means having a personally significant and meaningful romantic and/or sexual attraction primarily to adults of the same sex
    To be a bisexual man or woman means having a personally significant and meaningful romantic and/or sexual attraction to both adult males and females, equally attracted to both sexes.
    Can we have a legal bounding marriage of three people?

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  5. Sue Fielding
    Posted September 29, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Father Raass, you are mistaken if you think your article does not offend people. It does.
    You fall in line with a minority of people who believe that same-sex attracted people are morally inferior.
    You assert that to give someone like me the freedom to marry, there is a serious risk that it will lead to depraved behaviour, and the abuse of others.
    You allude to pedophilia, incest, polygamy, sperm donation and the breakdown of the moral fabric of society – all of this if same-sex couples who love each other and commit to a life together are allowed to enjoy the same legal and civil right afforded my marriage.
    Surely not! This is thin ice. What percentage of these abuses are committed by heterosexual men?
    I have lived in Alice Springs for 25 years, in a long-term, committed same-sex relationship.
    My partner and I are involved in the community through our work and commitment to this wonderful place we call home.
    We are voting Yes because the vote is essentially about human rights.
    Its scope reaches way beyond us, and beyond marriage. Australia prides itself on being an egalitarian and increasingly diverse society, and thus it is time to catch up with other nations who respect and offer same-sex attracted citizens equal rights under the law.
    Many of my heterosexual friends choose not to have children. They contribute to society in other ways. This is their choice.
    It is acceptable, yes?
    They do not receive church-sanctioned moral comment or public vitriol, nor are they denied the right to marry if they refuse to procreate. Society accepts this diversity. This is a double standard.
    Rumbling around deep underneath this debate, is fear of difference, which – whether it is racism sexism, or homophobia – should no longer be tolerated.
    You have sought and put forward, an argument (marriage = procreation = man and woman) to justify denying others their equal civil rights.
    This is out of step with society, which is moving continually towards greater equity and equality for all citizens.
    It is out of step with social views on marriage, and with movements towards diversity and inclusion.
    To echo instead your reflections on love … if marriage is about love and love is the most important thing – love, respect, kindness – then there can only be one vote. Yes.

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  6. Scarlett Grant
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Father Raass is a no vote and Father Brennan from Catholic Uni is voting Yes. So the teachings are do what is right for you.

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  7. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    To my knowledge, all Australian Federal and State Parliaments and Legislative Assemblies open in prayer – with most using the Lord’s Prayer Ergo Australia is a Christian country.
    If the law of marriage is to be changed so the Australian Constitution
    Australia’s legal system and institutions, while being secular in nature, also draw heavily on Christian ethics and morality, best illustrated by the 10 commandments and the fact that, for years, it was customary for those involved in trials to swear on the Bible.
    The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforced these protections.
    However the major religions of Australia : Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Taoism condemned homosexuality
    I think our politicians should first change Constitution and subsequent laws instead of wasting tax payer’s money on a referendum.
    We have the Yes and the No who are disturbing our peace. We should may be taking model on the The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which is considered by legal authorities to have equal legal standing with the Constitution of France, which states: “No one may be questioned about his opinions, [and the] same [for] religious [opinions], provided that their manifestation does not trouble the public order established by the law.”

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  8. Tinna Buenviaje
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I believe that every person has the right to his/her beliefs and opinions.
    There will always be commentaries on this and that but in the end, it’s still up to each person to make a decision, to do what one believes is right in their heart, mind and soul … and to do it with conviction.
    As a representative of the Catholic Faith, Fr. Raass only stated the principle that the it upholds. There is no need to bash people for expressing their beliefs and what they stand for.
    Listen to what your heart, mind and conscience say and most important of all. PRAY for guidance.

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  9. Tinna Buenviaje
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I believe that every person has the right to his/her own views, opinions and beliefs.
    We always hear comments about this and that but in the end it’s still our own decision to make.
    Whatever you believe is right in your heart, mind and soul, do with conviction and sincerity.
    It’s no use bashing other people’s beliefs for that matter.
    As a Catholic Priest, Fr. Raass only echoes the principle of the church.
    Do what you think is right and be prepared to face the consequences of your action.

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  10. Michael
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 9:22 am

    People value their personal freedom and don’t like someone telling them how to vote, but voting No reduces others’ personal freedom.
    Our society needs more ways to bring people together, and marriage is a wonderful institution for that purpose.

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  11. Hal Duell
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 3:06 am

    @ James T Smerk, Posted September 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm: Yup, that’ll do it.

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  12. Dr Who
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    @ James T Smerk: Your short comment makes more sense than all the BS that both sides have sprouted during this stupidity that could have been sorted out if this country had politicians of conviction, on both sides.

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  13. Interesting
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    I am getting sick of this. All these Yes people are pushing this crap and sending texts to people’s phones.
    As you guess I am a no voter. I don’t have a problem with gay or lesbian people, they can be great people. As for being able to marry as the same as straight couples no way.
    If this is the case and it gets accepted I would not ohave married. They should be able to create a new format but not called marriage.
    I may sound terrible but that’s HOW I feel and no one should tell me what to do or say.
    By the way, a kid 17 years old got knocked out because he said No when a rally was passing through. He was with his family doing nothing wrong and someone came up and asked him his choice and that’s what happens! So much for peace.

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  14. Heather Wells
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    @ James T Smerk: Tick for your comment.

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  15. James T Smerk
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Just vote for what you believe is right (use your heart and head). If you have to be told which way to vote you probably shouldn’t be voting at all. There is no wrong vote.

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  16. Heather Wells
    Posted September 27, 2017 at 1:19 am

    @ Bruce: “Then there is the situation that the LGBTIQ community now desires access to an institution (marriage) that it has denigrated over several decades.”
    Can you please explain this quote?

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  17. R Henry
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    First off, I am a “No”. The whole bag of rubbish is systematic of the “ME ME ME” “ME NOW ME NOW” “LOOKIT ME” “LOOKIT ME” who must have everything that comes into their head and expect it now without any thought for anyone not of a similar nature.
    I am not a church goer but realize that a Christian way of life has been very beneficial in producing a stable way of life but I do not expect other people to change their principles to suit me. I salute the Father for being forward in his statement.

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  18. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Bruce: The argument that “every other western country has embraced SSM so jump on board” is similar to the argument teenagers use on their parents. However a good parent will answer: You are not everybody else.

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  19. Number 19
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    John Bell: If you call my comment firing shots then I don’t think you know what a respectful argument means.
    I was just trying to show the hypocrisy in Mr Raass’s argument. He said the church disavows unjust discrimination, and also discriminating against homosexuals is a great moral evil.
    He says that but then promotes discrimination. Can you see the hypocrisy?
    I would like some clarification from him as to whether he is for or against discrimination. As to his response to the survey he can and will do whatever way he likes.

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  20. Bruce
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    There are so many ironies at work in this SSM “Yes” campaign.
    First I witness the intimidation, and lack of respect via name calling by so many in the “Yes” camp who assume such righteous, even moral superiority, that they believe belongs with those “narrow” moralising proponents in the “No” camp.
    Then there is the situation that the LGBTIQ community now desires access to an institution (marriage) that it has denigrated over several decades.
    Finally the institution is being abandoned by the traditional male-female partners at the very time those same-sex couples wish to embrace.
    There seems very little tolerance in the “Yes” camp. It is much like the Republican Movement. In the unlikely event that it fails to carry a majority it will simply result in a new, (even nastier) campaign at a later date.
    “No” won’t mean “no” at all. Well, not for long. The argument that “every other western country has embraced SSM so jump on board”, is really a post-modern argument of populism versus moral persuasion.

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  21. John Bell
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Miss Roullet has drawn timely attention to the reluctance of NO voters to openly air their views for fear of attack.
    So far, five of the six comments have been YES voters firing shots at NO voter religion and race. Fair enough. To be expected.
    However, this is further anecdotal evidence to explain why it is understandable that atheist and agnostic NO voters are keeping views to themselves and the survey envelope.
    They are staying down in their foxholes because if they stick their heads up above the trench and who knows what part of their individual character or anatomy will be blitzkrieged by some of the more militant YES army!

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  22. Michael
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:40 am

    I am sad that you believe celibate priests like you are not “ideal building blocks of society” just because you do not choose a wife and children.
    That is not true in this town! An ideal building block of Alice Springs society is acceptance of sexual differences – including yours.
    We would never discriminate against you just because you do not procreate!
    Alice Springs supports your choice to make a lifelong commitment to love through celibacy. In turn, you should support other people’s desires make their own lifelong commitment to love through marriage.
    We need as many ways as possible for people to make lifelong commitments to love, because it brings people together and builds a stronger Alice Springs.
    It is the will of our loving God for us all to vote YES.

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  23. Ruth Morley
    Posted September 26, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Your name looks Samoan to me. If so, Samoan culture includes Fa’afafine which is the specific embracing of homosexuality. Why not talk about that in your letter?

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  24. Number 19
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    “The church disavows all forms of unjust discrimination” but promotes discrimination.
    “Any laws that discriminate against homosexuals perpetrate a great moral evil that must be resisted.” So vote yes and end discriminatory laws.

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  25. Heather Wells
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    What about those M/F couples who get married and have no intention of having children?
    I know of several couples with this view. Bang goes the procreation theory.
    And I’m afraid many religions have bent the rules to suit themselves. Child abuse covered up but unwed couples who are having / had children outside of marriage are shunned by the their employer, the Catholic Church. My daughter is a classic example.
    She has raised two beautiful children with her partner, but not married and was made to feel like an outcast at the Catholic School where she worked.
    No goodbye and good luck when she went on maternity leave, no nothing.
    My other daughter is gay and has been in a loving stable relationship with a lovely girl who has three children, one boy and two girls. No stress levels there.
    And when my daughter came out as gay she was 17 and had lived with this knowledge for three years but did not want to burden me with her “problem” while I was going through a marriage break up.
    Her coming out was like this: Mum and Dad I’ve got three things to tell you. UH-OH, she’s pregnant, in trouble with the police or owes someone money were my thoughts.
    Firstly she said, I’ve had my hip pierced. Yuk I said.
    Secondly, when I go out drinking at the pub (hang on you are only 17, but to think about it I did the same) I also smoke. Hmmm.
    Thirdly my friend Tash is also my partner. By this time she was crying and wanted a hug. This I duly gave her and said I have one thing to say to you. What, she said, trembling and crying? Give up the smokes I said. No pain, no discarding of her, no telling her she was bad and what had we done wrong.
    I love her as much today as then and her father does too.
    Sorry, Father, but you can’t have it both ways. God’s love is inclusive not exclusive. Desmond Tutu once said that if God was homophobic he would prefer the other place and I totally agree with him.

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  26. Steve
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Not only have you, and this paper in publishing this, denigrated those in a same sex marriage, you have also denigrated those families that for many reasons do not have all parents, those in defacto relationships and married couples who are unable to have children. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  27. John Bell
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Father Raass. I have never met you. However, as a Christian and a former Sacred Heart Alician parishioner, I will put my hand up as a No voter to say that you have nailed the essence of our side of the debate.
    The word “love” is a great word in the English language.
    Unfortunately, it can be ambushed to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean, to quote a famous character of old.
    Whatever camp one is in, no matter what opinion one has about marriage, the word “love” will always remain a constant.
    In coming out as a straight to say this publicly, I extend my love to my gay friends in Alice.
    Nothing for me will change in the way I have always loved and respected you no matter what your views on marriage may be. I hope my fellow No voters will also come out and express the same view.

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