27 October 2022

Archbishop Suspends Bible Passage at Catholic School Graduation after Protests

St Paul also said, 'And be not conformed to this world...' (Rom. 12:), a lesson His Grace and his people have obviously not learnt!

From Australian Brodcasting Corportaion News  

By Loretta Lohberger

Opposition to a planned biblical reading about marriage at a girls' school graduation mass shows society is becoming "increasingly hostile to Christian beliefs", according to Tasmania's Catholic archbishop — who likened it to the Essendon saga over Andrew Thorburn's resignation.

Hobart Catholic school St Mary's College made headlines last week when concerns were raised about the chosen reading for its graduation mass — Ephesians 5: 21-23 — which includes:

"Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives submit to their husbands, in everything."

 After concern among staff, students and parents, and backlash on social media, Archbishop Julian Porteous agreed to change the reading, and provided an alternative.

The section of Ephesians 5 is the reading for the day, but, being an ordinary weekday, those choosing the readings have freedom to choose something else.

Questions were also asked about whether a reading about marriage was the best choice for an occasion that is celebrating academic achievement.

In his homily during Sunday's mass at the Guilford Young Chapel in Hobart, Archbishop Porteous said it was "not unusual for the teaching of sacred scripture to be at variance with the attitudes and ethos of our age".

"We now find ourselves as Catholics, as Christians, being criticised and persecuted because we believe what the scriptures teach and we desire to live by its imperatives, even when they are at variance with the ethos of our times," he said.

Archbishop Porteous spoke about the case of Andrew Thorburn, who resigned as Essendon Football Club chief executive one day after being appointed, after it emerged the church he leads, City on a Hill, published a series of articles critical of homosexuality and abortion.

Club president David Barham said the City on a Hill church's views were contrary to the club's values and that Mr Thorburn had been issued with an ultimatum.

Archbishop Porteous said it was "because his church stood by scriptural teaching about abortion and the nature of marriage that he was considered unsuitable to be chair of a board of a football club".

"All of this was by inference, as Andrew himself had not made any public statements on these moral issues.

"This tells us that our society is becoming increasingly hostile to Christian beliefs found in sacred scripture and actually to demand that people abandon their Christian faith if they wish to exercise public office.

"This is a most dangerous development in our Australian society."

Archbishop Porteous then went on to talk about the St Mary's parents who "protested about the use of a text from St Paul's letter to the Ephesians because they felt that this text offended their understanding about the role of women in marriage".

He said it reflected a similar situation to that of Mr Thorburn, and that "a single text" had been taken out of it's "full context".

Archbishop Porteous said the statement about wives being subject to their husbands reflected the culture of the time it was written.

"[St Paul] then presents a radical vision of marriage inspired by Christian belief in the equal dignity of men and women. Because he calls on husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives as Christ sacrificed himself for the Church."

He said the teaching of St Paul in his day would have been an "extraordinary challenge to the pagan world in which he lived" and that Christianity "proposed a revolutionary view and elevated the status of women and stressed the sanctity of the marriage bond".

Archbishop Porteous said scripture needed to be read "within the total understanding of the faith".

"Taking one sentence in isolation fails to do this," he said.

This is the full text of the Ephesians 5: 21-33 reading that was originally planned for the graduation mass:

Give way to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything.

Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her in water with a form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless.

In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is the body — and we are its living parts.

For this reason, a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body. This mystery has many implications; but I am saying it applies to Christ and the Church. To sum up; you too, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.

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