The Australian Catholic Church said it would fire its employees if they marry their same-sex partner in a threat coming straight from the top.
Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart told Fairfax Media the church was warning its 180,000 employees in Australia they should adhere to church teaching “totally”.
Any breach of doctrine would be treated “very seriously”.
“I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage,” Archbishop Hart said.
“Any words or actions which work contrary to that would be viewed very seriously.
- Trio charged with terror offences following arson attacks at Melbourne mosque
- Father of Aussie boy missing in Barcelona terror attack arrives in Spain
- Diamonds are forever: US couple finds lost engagement ring nine years later on Italian holiday
“Our teachers, our parish employees are expected totally to uphold the Catholic faith and what we believe about marriage.”
The Catholic Church and other religious institutions are exempt from anti-discrimination laws, allowing them the freedom to hire and fire people based upon marital status and sexual orientation, among other aspects.
While there are LGBTI people within the ranks of the church’s 180,000 employees working as teachers and nurses and various other roles, venturing down the aisle into a same-sex marriage could be considered a public denunciation of the church and its stance on marriage.
Head of Catholic Health Australia, Suzanne Greenwood, told Fairfax the church’s stance was “not really relevant to the jobs people are performing within the care environment at a hospital or an aged care facility”.
As the CEO of the largest not-for-profit, non-government health organisation in Australia, Ms Greenwood said she could not see any reason why the organisation would change it approach to hiring employees who are not currently screened based on sexual orientation.
The threat to employment was more plain to Catholic teachers who would be expected to set an example based upon their school and the church’s values.
Chair of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education Archbishop Timothy Costelloe cautioned teachers about “undermining” church doctrine and school values in the case that marriage equality became law.
“In accepting a role in a Catholic school, staff will recognise their responsibility to conduct themselves in such a way as not to undermine the fundamental ethos of the school,” he said.