Perth Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey has warned that the archdiocese will stop conducting legal marriages if it was forced to carry out same-sex unions.
Archbishop Hickey made the comments, which are believed to have caused ructions among Perth's Catholic clergy, when he addressed parishioners in Maylands this week.
The head of the Catholic Church in Perth also went further, saying he was not certain the Church could bury Catholics who had entered into same-sex marriages.
Catholic newspaper The Record reported Archbishop Hickey as saying that if the push for same-sex marriage succeeded, the Catholic Church would continue to celebrate marriage as it always had.
"We might be back to the ghetto. We can't do those marriages at all. And if the law forces us to, we cancel our registration as marriage celebrants. We just don't do it," he told parishioners of the Traditional Anglican Church parish of St Ninian and St Chad in Maylands on Sunday.
Archbishop Hickey said he had "very, very serious concerns" about the Federal Government's push to amend marriage laws to include same-sex unions.
"The ban on sodomy is still there," he said. "We can't bless a relationship with an inbuilt defect in it . . . We've got nothing against people loving one another; it's the sexual content that makes it difficult for us."
Archbishop Hickey also told parishioners he had "not worked out yet" whether the Church could bury people who had entered into same-sex unions.
But in a statement yesterday, Archbishop Hickey said he had only been thinking aloud about the possible pastoral implications of legal same-sex marriages
"A number of priests have urged me to take the compassionate view and place no barrier on burying people, because we cannot judge a person's inner conscience nor do we know that person's relationship with God," he said. "I think this is good advice and I will take it."
Father Joseph Walsh, from St Joseph's Catholic Church in Subiaco, said marriage between a man and a woman was sacrosanct and he did not see any possibility of the Church changing its policy.
"There are areas of morality and ethics that will never change," he said. "Some things are wrong and will never ever change in the Catholic traditions. I think every priest in the country would agree with that."
But Father Walsh said he would bury anyone irrespective of their sexuality because the Church had a duty of pastoral care. He said gay people were integrated into his church, he had buried them and baptised their children.
'We can't do those marriages. If the law forces us, we cancel our registration as marriage celebrants.'"Archbishop *Barry Hickey *