Catholic bishops in Ireland have urged their congregations to vote and to be guided by church teaching in both referendums on Friday.
In pastoral Statement on the marriage equality referendum Bishop Kevin Doran, bishop of Elphin, said: “Every citizen and long-term resident has a vested interest in how society defines and protects marriage and the family founded on marriage”.
He said those who had a right to vote had a responsibility to use it for the common good and nobody else could exercise that responsibility.
Bishop Doran said he would ask voters to consider how a same sex union, however loving, could be said to be the same as marriage. As far as the referendum is concerned he said he believed “quite honestly, that society can respond to the human rights of all who live together in committed relationships, without changing the meaning of marriage”.
In his first pastoral letter as bishop of the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly urged that all people reflect carefully on how they vote. “Marriage as understood by the great religious traditions of the world is that of the union between a man and a woman” he said. “This is enshrined I believe in the natural order”.
He said there was no desire on the part of the bishops to alienate or denigrate any person or group of persons in our society.
“This referendum on marriage is an opportunity for every person to reflect and perhaps to rediscover the richness and uniqueness of marriage based on the union of a man and a woman created to complement each other,” he said.
The second referendum – to reduce the age at which candidates are eligible for election to the office of President from 35 to 21 also merits careful consideration, he said.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said marriage was linked with the family “where mothers and fathers bring different, yet complementary gifts and strengths into a child’s life”.
He said marriage was “not simply about a wedding ceremony or about two people being in love with each other.”
Dr Martin encouraged voters to consider very carefully “the profound implications which the constitutional amendment on marriage would have on the family and on our understanding of parenthood”.
However Dr Martin said he knew that “the severity with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past – and in some cases still today – makes it difficult for some to understand the Church’s position”.
He urged that before voting people should remember that marriage really matters and to reflect carefully and be informed before changing its definition.
Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan, said all cultures have encouraged men and women to marry so that children can be raised in the best possible atmosphere.
Bishop Drennan said the union of a man and a woman was quite different from the union of two men or two women. “By nature alone they differ. The biggest difference is that the marriage of man and woman has the capacity to produce new life and provide the best environment for that life to grow.”
Bishop of Killala John Fleming said he encouraged voters to think about the issues involved, to pray for guidance and to vote on May 22nd.
He said the Church’s vision for marriage and the family is based on faith and reason. “It is shared by other faith traditions and by people who have no religious belief. Since time immemorial, both Church and State have recognised the marriage of a man and a woman to be of fundamental importance for children, for mothers and fathers, for the family and for society,” he said.
He recalled the Roman Catholic bishops have said that they cannot support an amendment to the Constitution which redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on a par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife.
The Meaning of Marriage website
Please visit www.meaningofmarriage.ie which will host relevant material published by the Irish Episcopal Conference, its councils, and by individual bishops.
Archbishop Martin’s Addresses
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s talks and addresses on marriage and the family are available at the links below:
‘The Church in Ireland: Signs of Hope – New Challenges’
Saint John’s Parish, Tralee, 24th February 2015
‘The Synod on the Family – what can we expect?’
All Hallows College, Dublin, 4th March 2015
‘The Teaching of the Church on Marriage today’
Iona Institute, 19th March 2015
‘Marriage in the constitution is linked with the family’
22nd Consultation Day for Diocesan Communications Officers, All Hallows College, Dublin, 6th May 2015
‘Stop & reflect carefully on what marriage and the family mean’
Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Saint Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge, 11th May 2015
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin shares his views on same-sex marriage
– RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week programme, Sunday 10th May 2015
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin announces his intention to vote ‘No’ in the same-sex marriage referendum
– RTÉ News, Wednesday 6th May 2015