Tuesday 25 October 2016

Catholic Church in UK made same threat to boycott civil ceremonies


Archbishop Martin
Archbishop Martin

THE CATHOLIC Church in England and Wales warned that it might stop conducting the civil part of wedding ceremonies before same sex marriage was introduced there.

But more than a year after gay couples won the right to marry, the Church is still performing the civil marriage function as before.

Primate of All Ireland Eamon Martin this week said that his priests may no longer facilitate couples signing the register if the referendum passes.

"We haven't made up our mind … clearly it is an issue for us," he warned.

However, bishops in Britain made similar threats before same-sex marriage entered into law there in March last year.

Many gay couples there were poised to wed with some tying the knot at a minute past midnight when the change in law came into effect.

Church authorities across the Irish Sea prepared a briefing document in 2013 outlining their fear that the change in the law would create "an emerging gulf between religious and secular conceptions of marriage.

"The effect of the Bill, if it is passed, will be to make a more complete separation of Church and State in the area of marriage almost inevitable," it stated.

Despite these concerns couples who wed in Catholic churches in England and Wales have so far not seen any changes in their ceremonies.

David Quinn, the Director of the Iona Institute, has said that Catholic bishops in the US are considering a similar move as the one suggested by Archbishop Martin.

However the US Conference of Bishops declined to comment when contacted by the Herald.

Mr Quinn said that the Church would not want to be seen as condoning the new understanding of marriage "in any way, shape or form",

Speaking on Newstalk he said the comments from the bishop were a "threat" but that in his view it was a valid one.

Minister for Health Leo Vardakar said yesterday that any potential changes would be for the Church to decide.

"Whatever rules the Catholic church, and any church, decides to make is their own business and it is their own prerogative to make their own rules," he said.

The openly gay TD was speaking at an event for health professionals campaigning for a Yes vote.

Meanwhile voter registration ahead of the May 22 referendum concluded yesterday at 5pm.

Council workers in Dublin City Council was kept busy with Dubliners registering at the last minute. It received a "large volume" of registrations ahead of the 5pm deadline, a spokesman said.

Similarly in Swords council staff were kept busy with Fingal residents who wished to be added to the register in time for the vote.

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