A priest has been banned from speaking at a Catholic conference in Australia because he is a supporter of equal marriage.
Father Frank Brennan, a well-known Australian Jesuit priest and writer, was invited to speak at theCatholicCare Tasmania conference in February.
However, the appearance was blocked by the Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, who took exception to Brennan’s support for equal marriage.
During Australia’s public vote on equal marriage in 2017, Brennan had urged Catholics to vote for equal marriage “for the common good” – in a break from the country’s Archbishops, who orchestrated an anti-gay marriage campaign and distributed ‘No’ leaflets in churches.
Archbishop Porteous, a strong opponent of LGBT equality, confirmed the decision to ban Brennan from speaking.
His spokesperson said: “Archbishop Porteous addressed the conference on the issue of marriage. His Grace felt it was inappropriate for Father Brennan to speak at the conference, due to his public position regarding same-sex marriage.”
LGBT campaigners branded the Archbishop a hypocrite for clamping down on pro-gay voices while regularly complaining about his own free speech being ‘violated’.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome said: “During the marriage equality debate Archbishop Porteous regularly claimed that his free speech was being stifled and that marriage equality should be discussed freely.
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“But now he openly admits to silencing a well-respected priest, Fr Frank Brennan, at a conference in Hobart seemingly because Fr Brennan supports marriage equality.
“Archbishop Porteous only cares about free speech when he is the one talking.
“From now on it will be impossible to take anything Archbishop Porteous says about free speech seriously.
“The Archbishop’s action is deeply hypocritical and I call on him to apologise for silencing Fr Brennan.”
It is not the first time a pro-LGBT speaker is alleged to have been outlawed from Catholic events.
The Vatican cut ties with a Catholic International Women’s Day event this year because one of the speakers is a lesbian.
The annual Voices of Faith conference, which features Catholic women from across the world, is traditionally held at the Vatican on International Women’s Day.
However, this year’s event was spurned by Catholic officials, who took exception to the list of speakers – which included Ugandan lesbian Catholic Ssenfuka Joanita Warry, as well as academic Tina Beattie, who has challenged the Church’s anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Pope Francis declined to attend the meeting, and refused to hold a Mass for those attending.