Archbishop defends anti-gay marriage book

A letter explaining the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage, sent to the families of schoolchildren, has drawn criticism, an archbishop admits.

The Catholic archbishop of Hobart admits he has copped flak for distributing a booklet explaining the church's stance against same-sex marriage, but defended the move.

The pamphlet, titled Don't Mess with Marriage and written by the church's Australian bishops, was sent home in late June to about 12,000 families whose children attend Catholic schools across Tasmania.

In a video message published on Wednesday, Archbishop Julian Porteous said community reaction to the booklet has been mixed.

"I have received many emails and personal words of thanks from parents," he says in the two-minute recording.

"I've also received some criticisms for my action."

But the archbishop stood firm.

"I understand that some parents have disagreed with what I've done.

"I am simply fulfilling one of my roles as bishop, and that is to be the official teacher of the Catholic faith."

He described the booklet as a "positive contribution" to the marriage debate.

"It outlines why the church stands by the official definition of marriage as found in our laws."

The archbishop conceded that some people might find the teaching difficult to accept, but said the church does not seek to condemn people and respects the dignity of every person.

"(The church) does seek to serve people and the society by presenting its understanding of what marriage and family are intended to be, and this is based on what the sacred scriptures teach and indeed what has been the common understanding of humanity for millennia."

Source AAP

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