Churches Respond to Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Vote

James Bruce | WORLD News Service | Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Churches Respond to Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Vote

Churches Respond to Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Vote

The Emerald Isle is now a rainbow: Ireland on Friday became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. But not everyone is pleased with the result, especially officials in the Roman Catholic Church.


“The church needs to do a reality check,”said Diarmuid Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, during an interview with RTÉNews shortly after the results became known. “It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today. It’s a social revolution that’s been going on.”


Martin questioned whether or not there was “robust discussion”with young people in churches, not just on this issue but on many others. He wants churches to be places where young people can be challenged by church teaching but feel the freedom to challenge it, too.


The problem isn’t having an opportunity to speak with young people, but knowing what to say. Martin noted “most of those young people who voted ‘yes’are products of our Catholic schools …for 12 years.”So the church has ample opportunity to communicate its position. Instead, the problem is insularity: “We’re becoming a church of the likeminded, a safe space for the likeminded,”rather than a church that addresses itself to the broader culture, he said. While the church must find a “new language”to discuss the issues, it must remain firm on its positions on marriage and family, Martin concluded.


Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the chief diplomat for the Holy See and the Vatican City State, used even more forceful language in his remarks yesterday. He called Ireland’s referendum result a defeat for humanity, not just for Christian principles. Given Parolin’s prominence in the Vatican (Pope Francis appointed him in 2013), his lament carries official weight.


Parolin’s statement stands in contrast to the pope’s more casual comments from two years ago: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” But even though Pope Francis has not commented on the Irish vote directly, he has made his position clear in other ways. In yesterday’s weekly address, for example, the pope emphasized that marriage is between a man and a woman.


While the marriage issue is decided in Ireland, its effects are far from over. Michael Kelly, writing in the Irish Catholic last month, expressed concerns over Prime Minister Edna Kenny’s public comments before the vote. Kenny said Catholic schools would be “expected to teach children that people … in Ireland … will have the right to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation.”After the referendum last week, Kelly raised the issue on Vatican Radio yet again: “Concerns have been expressed that the measure may affect religious freedom.”


Roman Catholics in Ireland are not alone on this issue. Some Protestants also lamented the results of last week’s referendum. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland said in an official statement it was “deeply disappointed and saddened that the Constitution will no longer reflect the historic—and Christian—view of marriage that it is exclusively between one man and one woman,” according to an RTÉ report.



Courtesy: WORLD News Service


Photo courtesy: Thinkstock


Publication date: June 3, 2015