herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Civil part of marriage in church 'clearly an issue' if we vote 'Yes'

Referendum

Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin said the "radical change" to the definition of marriage proposed in the referendum had important implications for society - and for marriage ceremonies in churches.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland programme, he asked if State funding would be cut for pre-marriage and counselling courses provided by the Catholic Church as the Church would continue to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Archbishop Martin of Armagh said the Catholic Church has not made up its mind whether to continue to hold civil ceremonies, if same-sex marriage is legalised, saying that it was "clearly an issue".

"I'm calling on people to think very carefully about changing the meaning of marriage in our Constitution," he said.

"To interfere with the definition of marriage isn't a simple or trivial matter and it could have profound repercussions in the future."

Dr Martin disagreed that the amendent was an "add on" to the definition of marriage but rather that it would be "a radical change" to the definition of marriage.

He said the discussion about the referendum so far has not looked at the important questions. He called for more exploration of the changes it would bring to the institution of marriage.

SCHOOLs

In Catholic schools, relationships and sexuality education was based on a moral values framework of the Catholic Church's teaching, he said.

"Will we be able to continue to do that? Would it be unconstitutional for us in our schools to teach our children that marriage is between a man and a woman that is open to creation?" he asked.

Archbishop Martin said that the provision of services could be seen as discriminatory.

"This has already happened in other countries where in the UK, for example, the churches had to withdraw from its adoption services because it wasn't prepared under its beliefs, to place children with same-sex couples, therefore it had to withdraw.

"One of the things in Ireland, we provide [is] a very successful marriage counselling service and preparation service and we do so for men and women.

"If we are asked to provide a service for man and man or woman and woman preparing for marriage, we'd have to say no because of our sincerely held beliefs."

"The State is going to say that homosexual acts are a moral good, a social good and that may be the State's definition.

"What I'm asking is, what happens if we disagree with that and we want to teach children that that's not the case, in accordance with our freely held religious beliefs?"

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