Same-sex couple Brett McKinnon and Brett Albury welcomed a foster child into their life six years ago. The young boy—a former victim of abuse—found compassion, stability and boundless love in his new home in Sydney.
This month, the foster parents received a heartbreaking letter that not only questioned their way of life, but their son's future too.
The letter, sent to parents of Catholic school students by the Archbishop of Sydney, Reverend Anthony Fisher, encouraged all to vote “No” in the same-sex marriage postal survey. It explained Pope Francis’ opposition to marriage equality, declaring: “To vote with Pope Francis is to VOTE NO.”
“Put simply, love and mutual respect always matter but not all loves are marriages,” Archbishop Fisher writes in the two-page document, which you can read here.
The words were devastating for both McKinnon and Albury, and countless other Australians. In response, Brett McKinnon’s brother, Scott, has written his own letter explaining just how painful and divisive the Church’s stance on marriage equality is.
marie claire has published Scott’s letter to the Archbishop of Sydney in full below.
Dear Archbishop Fisher,
I’m writing with regards the letter titled 'Does Pope Francis support same-sex marriage?' that was recently sent to parents of children in Sydney Archdiocese schools. I wanted to tell you about one of the families to whom you sent that letter.
Six years ago, my brother and his same-sex partner welcomed a foster son into our family. They are currently going through the process of adopting him. He is much loved by his dads, uncles, aunt, grandparents and cousins within our family. It is simply impossible to imagine our family without him.
Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t tell you their son’s name or give you the full details of his life before he arrived in our family. Suffice to say that the court magistrate who reviewed his case burst into tears when she read about the years of abuse and neglect he had suffered while living with his heterosexual parents.
My brother and his partner opened up their home to a little boy still suffering from a life of trauma. They comforted him when he woke screaming. They made countless trips to his school when he acted out against a world he only understood as cruel and frightening. In the last six years, their love has turned his life around. That scared little boy is now a funny, happy teenager with a passion for basketball and a crew of great friends.
I would like to encourage you to consider the impact on that boy if he knew your views on his family. How would it feel for him to see the possibility of his dads marrying described as something that would “gravely harm us all”? This is a young man who knows what grave harm feels like. And yet you threaten him with worse to come if his much-loved dads were ever to marry. You describe the only place of safety and love he has ever known as if it were a threat to humanity.
You note in your letter that Pope Francis has been critical of the “‘narcissistic individualism" of contemporary culture, which promotes "a freedom disengaged from responsibility”. Surely, then, Pope Francis would have nothing but praise for two men who selflessly opened their home and hearts to a child in danger? Surely there could be no greater engagement with responsibility than committing to care for and love a child who has suffered through so much?
You describe the only place of safety and love he has ever known as if it were a threat to humanity.
My parents have three sons, two of whom are gay. They raised us all as Catholics. They sent us to Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Sydney. They took us to mass every Sunday. Now in their 70s and 80s, my mum and dad no longer attend mass. The attitude of the Church to their family has left them heartbroken.
They are, with good reason, filled with pride for my brother, his partner and their son. Men such as yourself have forced them to choose between their love for their children and their love for their Church. They chose their sons. They maintain their faith in God, but will no longer participate in an institution run by men with attitudes like your own.
I would like you to consider, Archbishop, that the greatest threat to the safety and happiness of our family is that we are so often subjected to the kinds of prejudice and cruelty contained in your letter. With little regard for the reality of our lives, you dictate a letter that, while claiming “pastoral care” in one breath, describes our lives as “ideological colonisation” which “harms individuals and communities” in another.
We are a family of love, friendship, and kindness. We do not deserve such treatment, particularly from someone who claims to be “speaking the truth in love”.