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Monday 5 December 2016

Dublin priest will vote Yes in referendum because there is 'more than one type of family'

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gerry o'Connor
gerry o'Connor

A Dublin priest has said his belief in family in all its forms was one reason why he stated publicly that he will vote Yes in the referendum on same-sex marriage.

Fr Gerry O'Connor, who works in the Cherry Orchard parish near Ballyfermot, said same-sex families share the same strengths and weaknesses as traditional families.

"At the beginning of the referendum debate the Church urged people to reflect good and hard, which was welcome. Then certain Bishops recently publicly stated they wanted people to vote No and I looked upon it as my chance to express my own opinion," Fr O'Connor told the Herald.

"Whenever there's a referendum I examine it on the basis of the principles of the common good. I ask if it is in the interests of society, and in this instance I think it is and that is why I will be voting Yes.

"The are so many different types of families. From the nuclear ones with a mam and a dad and children to single parents of children from one father and single parents of children from different fathers - as well as same-sex couples.

"I believe in relationships and family and marriage in all those different types of situations," he added.

"In every community there are same-sex couples, and as a priest you get a sense of how people live, and there is nothing like staying with a same-sex couple and their families to make you change any preconceptions you might have had about them."

Fr O'Connor said that another issue that concerns him is in the area of suicide.

"Quite a few male suicides are rooted in the struggle over sexuality, and anything we can do to de-stigmatise the old thinking and the old prejudices about sexuality is welcome," he said.

"My worry is if the referendum is defeated, what message will it send to people who are struggling with their sexuality?"

Fr O'Connor said he decided to use Twitter to venture out with his thoughts.

"I've had a mixture of responses from people to me saying I will vote Yes.

"Some say a priest should not speak out one way or the other, and others say I am being populist, but I think it is the Church's job to teach about ideals," Fr O'Connor said.

"I have had no negative reaction from the bishops or archbishop on me having a view. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said he will vote no but has not directed priests in any way on their own views."

Adequate

He has also said the civil partnership legislation is not adequate and needs to be tweaked.

"One person from the No side called me a traitor of Christ, but there has been a labelling of people voting No which is not good either.

"If I thought passing the referendum would damage heterosexual marriage I wouldn't support it," Fr O'Connor added.

"I do think that the referendum will pass, but I also think it will be closer than people think."

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