Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous.
Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous.

Archbishop vows ‘solid’ sex ed teaching

ARCHBISHOP Julian Porteous has called on parents of Catholic school students to support him in preserving the schools' Catholic identity.

Speaking at a Tasmanian Catholic Schools' Parents and Friends Council conference, the church leader said he would be "following developments very closely", in relation to the marriage postal survey and the potential introduction of laws to enable same-sex marriage in Australia.

"I will be taking steps next year, as part of what I am calling the Matrimonium Project, to develop solid teaching on sexuality, gender and marriage which will be implemented in our schools," Archbishop Porteous said.

"I am committed to preserving Catholic teaching as outlined in authoritative documents like the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

About half of the students enrolled in Tasmanian Catholic schools are Catholic.

Archbishop Porteous said "activists" were "seeking to introduce programs which radically rewrite the meaning of sexuality, gender, relationships and marriage".

He cited the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, launched under former prime minister Tony Abbott, which is no longer offered in Tasmania.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull scrapped federal funding for the program after outcry from conservatives.

Archbishop Porteous said a change to the Marriage Act "will give activists more courage in pursuing their ends".

In response to religious schools' concerns, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has said: "Sexual Discrimination Act provisions that allow for faith-based schools to teach according to the doctrines of their faith will in no way be changed by either this postal survey, or any of the legislation that's come before the Parliament which would enact marriage equality."

Archbishop Porteous told the parents and friends conference delegates they were moving into uncertain times concerning the Catholic identity of their schools.

"We must be vigilant as we move forward. I believe we will be sorely tested in the time ahead as we seek to preserve the Catholic identity of our schools," he said.

"I look to parents to support me in this effort."

In a pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Hobart released in 2015, and last year's updated Archbishop's Charter for Catholic Schools, Archbishop Porteous made specific references to marriage - something the previous schools' charter did not mention.

The archbishop's anti-same-sex marriage stance has previously prompted student protests. His distribution of the Don't Mess With Marriage pastoral letter to Catholic schools families in 2015 upset a number of people and led to a complaint to the state's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner - which was later dropped.

Last year, Catholic school parents, including practising Catholics, raised concerns with the Vatican about Archbishop Porteous' comments about same-sex marriage at Catholic school assemblies.

The parents said they were worried about the effect such comments might have on young adults, especially those struggling with their sexuality.

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