Bishops 'no' to civil part of marriage
CATHOLIC bishops have said the Church will no longer carry out the civil portion of wedding ceremonies if marriage is extended to gay couples.
The refusal to officiate over the civil part of weddings would affect tens of thousands of heterosexual couples if the same-sex marriage referendum passes.
A senior spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops said that he believed that priests are unlikely to have any issue with the hierarchy's decision to force all couples marrying in the church to carry out the civil aspect of their marriage elsewhere.
The hierarchy's refusal to co-operate with the new legal definition of marriage would effectively mean that couples would not be officially married by the church ceremony.
For a wedding to be legally recognised, it must be solemnised by a person on the register of civil solemnisers.
About 4,121 of the 5,461 people on this register are Catholic priests. There are just 107 civil registrars listed so the move would result in a significant delay for couples seeking to have their marriage legally recognised by the State.
The bishops' stance reaffirms a warning contained in the their submission to the Constitutional Convention in 2013.
"If the referendum is passed the Church's view and the State's view of marriage will be radically different. It's reasonable that the bishops would decide to separate the two," a spokesman said last night.
"A priest's role is to join two people in the eyes of God only. A priest is already doing something they don't have to (in carrying out the civil role)," the spokesman added.
According to the CSO, 13,072 (59pc) of the 22,045 marriages registered in 2014 were Catholic ceremonies.
Fr Brendan Hoban (above) from the Association of Catholic Priests said last night that he had heard suggestions that the Church would refuse to carry out the civil role, but that he didn't think it would happen.
"Why would it bother? You're only making it difficult and more expensive on the couple. I wouldn't expect to see it," he said.
ANDREW LYNCH: PAGE 14