There have been many responses to the columns of the Rector and Principal in Viewpoint, published 25 August – and also to that of the Rector of Xavier College, independently reflecting on the same issue.
Overwhelmingly, the comments have been affirming and encouraging. Most of the critical responses were from people who had only read only the media reports and not the original pieces. They were expressing disappointment and anger that we had encouraged people to vote “yes”, or were supportive of Sacramental same-sex marriage, or were unconcerned about protecting certain religious freedoms should the definition of marriage change.
A careful reading of the articles would make it clear that this was not so.
The comments by the Fr Ross and Dr Hine were an encouragement for people in the Riverview community to discern more deeply how they will respond to the proposed survey. In forming a response to this issue, a properly formed and informed conscience would take into account both the teachings of the Church about the sacrament of marriage, as well as the teachings of the Church about human dignity, which of course includes LGBTI people. A discerned response to these issues means holding all of these values together.
The long history of the College has been about preparing our students to participate fully in life – encouraging them to be informed by their faith tradition and the culture in which it is expressed. We want to produce discerning Christians, who can embody the values of Christ in respectful debate and at the same time to be cognisant of the diversity of the community of which they, as thinking Catholics, are a part.
Encouraging all to reflect deeply on the issue of same-sex marriage before casting a vote underscores that approach.
Our engagement with students and their parents on important ethical or social issues such as this is an essential element of our approach to actively form Christian leaders of the future.