Archbishop to Deliver Public Lecture on Importance of Marriage & Family in Today's World

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
9 Jul 2015

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP

The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP will discuss the importance of marriage and family in contemporary society as part of the Order of Malta's acclaimed Defence of the Faith lecture series.

The lecture which is open to the public will be held in the School Hall of at St Mary's Cathedral College on Wednesday, 22 July at 6pm.

The Archbishop's address comes at an important time for all Australians as advocates for same-sex unions lobby for a change in Federal law from the long-held legal definition of marriage as "the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others" to "the union between two people."

Redefining marriage in this way would enable those of same-sex attraction to be legally married.

"Many of our members have expressed their concern at the direction of the current debate about marriage and are very much looking forward to Archbishop Fisher's lecture on the Church's teachings on the Sacrament of Marriage," says David Hall, Chairman of the NSW Branch of the Order of Malta and one of the initiators of the Order's Defence of the Faith lecture series.

The Order is particularly pleased that the issue of marriage and family in contemporary society will be explored by Archbishop Fisher, the founding Director of the John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family and a leading theologian and bio-ethicists.

The Defence of the Faith Lecture series, launched in August 2013, is designed to help modern Catholics to better understand their faith.

"At a time when many people seek to question the continuing role and relevance of the Catholic faith, these lectures will help equip ordinary Australian Catholics to learn and understand more about their faith, as well as to better defend their faith in an increasingly secular world," David Hall says. "The Lecture series caters for the lay person and is aimed at enabling them to easily and readily understand the beliefs of our Church, and convey this to others, whether over the family dinner table, in talks with friends or in any other conversation they might have."

He points out that in recent times, Catholics in Australia are confronted by a secular society where faith in all forms is all too often dismissed, and where campaigns waged by a vocal minority are given precedence over widespread and deeply-held traditional views, and where freedom of religion, one of the most basic human rights, is increasingly under threat.

Under the Commonwealth Marriage Act marriage is a union between a man and a woman

Professor Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family, who gave the inaugural Order of Malta Defence of the Faith lecture two years ago, said the contrast between the lifestyle of someone who is Christian and someone who has no contact with this tradition is becoming ever more stark.

"The difference between the two is now delineated so clearly, that people realise they have to make a choice. It is no longer possible to be a little bit Christian or a little bit secular. Instead it has become a case of deciding whether you are 'For Christ' or 'Against Him,'" she said.

In the first of the Order of Malta Defence of the Faith lectures, Professor Rowland explored the "Three Theological Virtues: Why do faith, hope and love matter in the 21st Century."

The second address in the lecture series was delivered by Ms Anna Krohn, National Bioethics Convenor for the Catholic Women's League who spoke on "Eros Agape: Papal Teaching on Sexuality since 1960." She also explored the important roles played by women throughout the 2000 year history of the Church, where women have not only been the primary carriers of the faith and faith formation but have stood shoulder to shoulder with men as groundbreakers, inspirations and Doctors of the Church.

In February last year, Owen Vyner who holds a Masters Degree in Theology from the John Paul II Institute in and also a Licentiate in Sacramental Theology from the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, Illinois, USA spoke on the real and definite transformative effect over the long term of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which he said not only enabled us to personally encounter God but also to begin to understand God's limitless and unconditional love.

Professor Tracey Rowland delivered the inaugural Order of Malta Lecture in August last year

The fourth lecture in the series was given in June 2014 by Dr Bernadette Tobin, Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics at St Vincent's and Mater Health and Reader in Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. In an address entitled "A Synopsis of Some Contemporary Controversies in Bioethics," Dr Tobin examined conscientious judgement and conscientious objection and other bioethical challenges faced by doctors in hospitals and aged care facilities.

Among issues Dr Tobin tackled included when doctors had the right to refuse to perform a medical procedure such as abortion on religious, ethical or intellectual grounds, as well as examining when it was reasonable to compel a doctor to carry out a procedure he or she believed was wrong.

Now in the fifth lecture, Archbishop Fisher who is also Chair of the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life, will discuss the Church's teaching on the Holy Sacrament of Marriage and explore what marriage and family mean in today's contemporary world.

Those attending the Archbishop's extremely timely and important lecture on marriage and family are asked to gather at for a 6.30 start. The lecture will be held in the School Hall, St Mary's Cathedral College, Cathedral on Wednesday, 22 July with all those wishing to attend urged to register as soon as possible by emailing