Renee Pilcher

Catholic Church sends strong message on gay marriage

"DON'T mess with marriage."

The Catholic Church is making sure each of its 10,980 Clarence Valley parishioners understands its opposition to gay marriage thanks to a colourful easy to read pocket-size booklet.

The 17-page print and electronic publication, Don't Mess With Marriage, has been delivered to schools, churches and Catholic community groups across the region.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference book uses emotive language and family-friendly photographs to present the church's opposition to same-sex unions.

Its last page urges Catholics to lobby local MPs to oppose changes to Australia's Marriage Act.

"We now face a struggle for the very soul of marriage," the publication states.

The book's production coincided with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's introduction of a same-sex marriage bill to Parliament on June 1.

Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life chairman Anthony Fisher said the children of gay people would suffer if the Federal Government amended the Marriage Act.

"It is unjust, gravely unjust, to legitimise the false assertion that there is nothing distinctive about a man and a woman, a father or a mother; to ignore the particular values that real marriage serves; to ignore the importance for children of having a mum and a dad, committed to them and to each other for the long haul," Archbishop Fisher said.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said excluding gay couples from the Marriage Act was a "double standard".

"Australian law allows couples to marry if they can't or don't wish to have children, so it is a double standard to exclude same-sex couples from marriage because they cannot procreate," Mr Croome said.

"It is also a double standard to say marriage is for the care of children and then to say the children being raised by same-sex couples should be deprived of the chance to have married parents."

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