Australia’s Catholic Prime Minister Defends Marriage Equality

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia

As Australians cast their ballots this weekend, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s promise to pass marriage equality within 100 days of the election will be fresh on their mind. Rudd, who is Catholic, made a strong defense of equality on national television this past Tuesday while responding to an audience member’s question, and cited his Catholic faith at several points.

Abbot led in recent polls, but regardless of the election’s outcome, Rudd’s public witness as a practicing Catholic is worth celebrating. A full essay on why he evolved in favor of equal marriage can be read on The Australian‘s website.

A local Christian pastor asked the prime minister about his evolution on marriage equality on the popular Australian television show “Q&A,”  The pastor wondered whether this evolution was merely politicking to win votes,  BBC News reports that Rudd changed his position on the issue in May, while his opponent, Tony Abbot, remains sharply opposed to equal marriage rights.

You can view the video and text for key moments of the exchange this week on “Q&A” below.

After the pastor finished his question, Rudd first addressed the issue of sexual orientation using the language of an ‘informed conscience’:

” ‘I concluded in my conscience — through an informed conscience and a Christian conscience — it was the right thing to do [supporting marriage equality] and let me tell you why. Number one, I do not believe people when they are born choose their sexuality…And therefore the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong. I don’t get that…Secondly if you accept that it is natural and normal for someone to be gay because that’s the way they are, then it follows from that I don’t think it is right to say that if these two folk here who are in love with each other and of the same gender should be denied the opportunity for legal recognition of the duration their relationship by having marriage equality.’ “

Afterwards, Rudd asked for clarification from the pastor on why Christians should oppose equal marriage rights. The pastor cited Scripture and ended with the challenge, “If you call yourself a Christian, then why don’t you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?” The prime minister responded with a rejection of fundamentalism by saying:

“If I were to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition…For goodness sake, the human condition and social conditions change. What is the fundamental principle that the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality then I think we’re missing the centrality of what the gospel — whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel, or a spiritual gospel is all is all about…If you think homosexuality is unnatural condition then, frankly, I cannot agree with you based on any element of the science and, therefore, if a person’s sexuality is as they are made, then you’ve got to ask the second question: should their loving relationships be legally recognized and the conclusion I’ve reached is that they should.”

Prime Minister Rudd echoes the beliefs of many Catholics that same-gender relationships are both good and deserving of legal recognition from the government.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

9 replies
  1. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    The tsunami which is equality of all persons before God – all are welcome to the table of the Lord – as family – effects not only gay persons – created as gay – will sweep away the baseless preachings of hatred/exclusion/alienation – of many clergy/politicians/laity – like some much trash. Pope Benedict’s and his predecessors contention that in remaining “true” to the traditional teachings of the Church betrays his personal insecurities and failure to acknowledge that Truth is unchanging – but our comprehension of it is evolving. As the author points out, slavery was condoned by the Church, women are denied ordination as “not worthy or called”, artificial birth control is defended despite the rampant starvation/deaths of countless children in the name of being open always to procreation, etc.- the list of sins by the Church goes on. Our hierarchy forgets – again and again – that as recorded in Acts of the apostles – the Holy Spirit resides/guides with/through the faithful from whom they must take their lead. Yet, protective of their feudal lordships in a feudal mindset – they claw and grasp at temporal power – failing miserably in pastoral duties. Namaste

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    I very much affirm Duckman’s observations (in the post above), and I’d like to further on a bit. One of the more interesting things I’ve observed, when new clergy are appointed to one of the Episcopal parishes here in Western Massachusetts, is that these newly-appointed priests have generally come from previous career backgrounds in law, the academic world, or business. In fact, a former attorney who became a priest, and who previously pastored the splendid Episcopal Church in Amherst, MA., has recently been appointed the new Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. Most of these priests and bishops are also married, and many of them have young or teenage children. In other words, they have had REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE in dealing with complicated and often challenging people and situations. It is this genuine real world experience in dealing with complicated issues that appears to be so appallingly lacking among the cloistered and aloof clergy of our own Roman Catholic Church. The underlying problem is easily diagnosed. But the “fix” remains elusive, unless Pope Francis moves decisively toward the ordination of married (and hopefully also female) clergy.

  3. Fr John Corrigan
    Fr John Corrigan says:

    Kevin Rudd isn’t Catholic. He was brought up Catholic, but he has worshiped as an Anglican for most of his adult life.

    I’m new to this site, but I’ve bookmarked it, and I’ll come back. I’m sure there are things here I will like, and I won’t.

    This post, I don’t like. I think Mr Rudd’s performance on Q&A was a disservice to Christians and a disservice to good relations between the LGBT community and the Christian churches. He misrepresented the Bible and he ridiculed a Christian pastor for holding a position that Mr Rudd himself espoused only a few months ago. Talk about ham fisted!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] first time marriage equality was central to an Australian leadership change in recent years. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, himself a Catholic, lost to Tony Abbot in 2013 and many speculated at the time it was Rudd’s […]

  2. […] the defeat of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently, anti-marriage equality leaders in Australia are using this moment to stall progress and […]

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