[The next target for a Vatican visitation/removal?]
LORETTA LOHBERGER, Mercury
December 19, 2016
TASMANIAN Catholics frustrated with Archbishop Julian Porteous’s conservative approach to Catholicism are writing letters of complaint to the Vatican and avoiding Masses celebrated by the Archbishop, say church insiders.
Concerns being raised with the Vatican include comments against same-sex marriage Archbishop Porteous has made at assemblies at Catholic schools.
Parents, including practising Catholics, say they are worried about the effect such comments may have on young adults, especially those struggling with their sexuality.
An email obtained by the Mercury, sent by concerned Catholics to the Vatican, said the Archbishop’s comments were harmful and had left some students upset and parents angry.
It was suggested the Archbishop should not talk to young people about same-sex marriage if he could not do so in a more sensitive manner.
An Archdiocese of Hobart spokesman said the Archbishop had had “much positive feedback on his teaching about the nature of marriage” and his recent speeches at school events were well received.
“The Archbishop is presenting Catholic teaching which is clearly articulated in Catholic Catechism,” the spokesman said.
“His Grace sees the debate surrounding the move to change the legal definition of marriage in Australia as a vital issue affecting future Australian families.
“He has a responsibility as Archbishop to speak in the public domain about issues.”
The spokesman said Pope Francis supported the Australian bishops’ Don’t Mess With Marriage pastoral letter.
Former Catholic priest Julian Punch said the Archbishop’s “conservative dogma” was being rejected by many of the state’s Catholics, especially those with an interest in human rights and social justice.
In addition to the complaints written to the Vatican, students and parents at Catholic schools have protested against the Archbishop’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Comments by Archbishop Porteous at Guilford Young College’s graduation ceremony last year led to a protest by some students.
The Vatican could not be contacted.
Mr Punch, who still had connections to the church, said he was aware of many cases of parishioners avoiding Masses celebrated by the Archbishop.
“People just moved en masse and they haven’t moved back,” he said.
The Archbishop takes Masses around the state.
“There’s been occasions where he’s turned up for a Mass and people have just either complained about it – that they didn’t know he was coming – or they didn’t want to go,” Mr Punch said.
“Everybody is talking about it and how they don’t like what he’s saying.”
Last month, the Mercury reported Archbishop Porteous had instructed Catholic schools to enable their students to have a “deep respect” for the dignity of marriage and family.
The Archdiocese spokesman said the Archbishop “continues to receive many expressions of support from both the Tasmanian and the wider Australian Catholic community” and was always warmly welcomed at churches.