PARRAMATTA, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholic parents protested outside St. Patrick's Cathedral Sunday after Parramatta prelate Vincent Long Van Nguyen opposed a bill protecting children from LGBT indoctrination.
Dozens of faithful Catholics held banners with the slogans "Bishop Long is Wrong," "Bishop Vincent be a good shepherd," and "Hands off our children" as they prayerfully stood at the cathedral entrance before the 11 a.m. Holy Eucharist celebrated by Long.
In his homily, Long rebuked Catholics flying the "banner of Christendom," asserting that the Church was "not a cult or a ghetto that refuses to engage, to dialogue or to challenge our contemporary culture" but needed to "stand with those who are ostracized rather than consigning them to silence."
"These last few days, some of you might be aware of the media spotlight on our diocese and on me personally," Long preached. "An issue is whether or not certain sensitive topics can be discussed in the classroom. Some have quickly made a judgment that our Catholic education system panders to dangerous ideology."
"I can assure you, and I can assure the people out there that we take all the vital questions of our culture seriously and reflect on them through the lens of Jesus' solidarity with the most marginalized," Long maintained.
Protest promoter Charlie Bakhos told Church Militant that Bp. Long, diocesan Executive Director of Education Greg Whitby and Vicar General Fr. Christopher de Souza were the "'Axis of Evil' in our own Catholic Church in Parramatta."
"We've had enough of this persecution in Australia and around the world. We find ourselves constantly having to defend our faith. It's time for them to go. Thousands [are] calling for their resignation, and we won't stop till they're gone," Maronite Catholic Bakhos said.
The pro-LGBT bishop has become the focus of national news after he rejected a bill from secular lawmaker Mark Latham that would "prohibit the teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools."
Latham's Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 seeks "to provide that schools should not usurp the role of parents" and "to clarify that parents and not schools" are primarily responsible for instructing children in issues of sexual morality.
The law will require schools "to consult with parents about courses of study that will include teaching on core values" and allow parents to withdraw children from classes "where parents object to the particular teaching on these matters of parental primacy."
"I'm not a Christian myself," Latham admits, "but I recognize that if we are to be serious about defending our civilization, Christianity has never been more important, never been more essential in terms of its values and its significance."
"The gay-Left revenge against Christians is very clear," Latham said. "In the attacks on our civilization, one of the pillars they're trying to take down is Christianity, the freedom of Christians to practice their faith and articulate their views in society."
"It is hugely ironic we are at a point where a non-Christian politician supports Catholic moral teaching and a Catholic bishop leading a whole diocese rejects it," Bakhos told Church Militant, commenting on Latham's defense of Catholic sexual morality.
"I emphatically reject the notion of gender ideology," Long wrote, arguing that the lives of LGBT children would be "made more intolerable by unjust laws such as elements of the 'Latham' bill" and quoting Pope Francis' invitation to "accompany all people."
Hundreds of faithful Catholics slammed Long's letter posted on the Parramatta diocese Facebook page. The diocese responded by deleting scores of responses, explaining that it was "removing posts that are ad hominem attacks, defamatory insinuations and calumny."
Catholic parent and Catholic school teacher Noelle Bartram wrote that she had "grave concerns that opposition to 'Latham's bill' as put forward by the Parramatta diocese expresses an unfavorable disregard for the role of parents in the education and upbringing of their children."
"I believe it introduces our children to the slippery slope of Marxist ideology, which will allow teachers, many of whom are both non-Catholic, or who do not uphold or support Catholic teaching, an open playing field to push their own beliefs and anti-Catholic agendas on our children," Bartram added.
A few pro-LGBT commenters praised Long's leadership as exemplifying "the boundless love of Jesus" and "countering the message of hate" sent out by the Latham bill.
Parents have also launched an online petition calling Greg Whitby to resign. The petition cites a column by Miranda Devine which notes the antagonism to Latham's legislation "from activists, academics and left-wing lawyers."
"But hostility also comes from what should be a most unlikely source, the Catholic diocese of Parramatta, which runs 80 schools and educates more than 43,000 children, or one-quarter of all students in western Sydney," writes Devine.
"In a deeply stupid submission, Greg Whitby ... alleges the concept of 'parents' rights' has 'long been discarded in Australia,'" Devine notes, asking Bp. Long to "tell us where he stands on the indoctrination of children in the concept of multiple genders, and how setting them on a path to puberty-blocking hormones and mutilating surgery accords with God's creation."
In contrast to Parramatta diocese (located Sydney's western suburbs), Sydney archdiocese and Catholic Schools New South Wales, a body representing 600 Catholic schools in the state, are supporting Latham's bill.
In February, Abp. Anthony Fisher of Sydney said the bill upheld the primacy of parental education of children, showing "respect for the role of parents as primary educators by giving them the right to choose whether or not their children attend these classes."