Bathurst Catholic Diocese urges Australians to work together after postal survey

Bishop Michael McKenna, leader of the Bathurst diocese of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Michael McKenna, leader of the Bathurst diocese of the Catholic Church.

The leader of the Bathurst Catholic Diocese has urged Australians to work together in the wake of Wednesday’s historic same-sex marriage ‘Yes’ vote.

But he has also added a desire to see religious liberties not impacted as a result of plans to bring legislation before the Parliament.

Bishop Michael McKenna released a statement less than an hour after Australian Bureau of Statistics chief statistician David Kalisch announced the 61.6%-38.4% result.

“Now that voters have expressed their opinions on changes to the marriage law, it is time for the Parliament to do its work,” Bishop McKenna said.

“I trust that the assurances given, by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, that any legislation would not impinge on religious liberty, will be respected.

“I would encourage everyone to work together in a spirit of cooperation for social harmony and the common good.”

Learning to appreciate differing views was also at the heart of the message from Minister Wayne Connor from Dubbo Presbyterian Church.

“The ‘yes’ result in this survey speaks of people’s support for gay and lesbian people,” he said.

“But the plebiscite has raised questions about how we treat people who disagree with us.  We all need to learn to love (not just tolerate) those who hold a different view to us.  

“Jesus loved, valued, even died for people regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. I hope as a church we can do this too.

“A good practical first step could be to have someone over for dinner or coffee who is different to you in any way and seek to understand them.

Fairfax Media reports the de facto leader of the "no" campaign, Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton, conceded defeat and said he accepted the democratic decision of the Australian people.

But he says he didn't have enough time to counter the "relentless" campaigner on the "yes" side. So now he's gearing up for a fight that could take "years or decades" to persuade Australians to change their minds.

"But in explaining the result I think we have to recognise that the "yes" vote has been campaigning for at least 10 years," he said. "They have been relentless in this and they have seen the fruit of their relentlessness."

He claimed his Coalition for Marriage had helped shift at least a million votes. The "no" vote ultimately attracted 38.4 per cent of the vote – more than 4.8 million Australians.

Asked if he would accept the result and move on from the issue, Mr Shelton said: "In a democracy no question is ever completely closed".