Former prime minister Tony Abbott has urged Catholics to assert the Church’s teachings on traditional marriage in the lead-up to a highly divisive plebiscite, reports The Catholic Leader.
In a Brisbane lecture last week in honour of his former headmaster, the Federal Member for Warringah made a public plea for Catholics and voting conservatives to make the case for retaining Australia’s definition of marriage even if their views were offensive.
Confirming he would not be supporting same-sex marriage in the post-federal election plebiscite, Mr Abbott insisted Catholics “take risks” in reaffirming a “time-honoured concept of marriage.”
“Now it’s vital that any change to the definition of marriage not coerce the Church or infringe its right to proclaim the faith,” he said.
Mr Abbott pledged his support for the Church’s teachings on marriage at an inaugural lecture held in honour of his former headmaster, Jesuit Father Gregory Jordan, who died last year.
The Brisbane lecture was the first in an annual series that will raise money to support Catholic university students in a scholarship program.
In his speech, Mr Abbott said the challenge for Catholics would be to stress their support for traditional marriage “even though it will often be misconstrued, perhaps deliberately, as an attack on everyone whose life does not correspond to the traditional ideal.”
Rather than committing resources to lobbying MPs, Mr Abbott encouraged voters to speak “to our neighbours.”
“I strongly believe that the need to persuade the public rather than merely to lobby MPs should make the debate more respectful not less, because we’re usually more polite to our neighbours than we are to our politicians,” he said.
Mr Abbott also used the speech to reaffirm his position on the Racial Discrimination Act, a law he had promised to amend but “bowed to criticism” and eventually abandoned during his time as prime minister.
Photo: Mr Abbott at the lecture (The Catholic Leader)