By Sarah Mac Donald - 23 December, 2014
In his Christmas message, Bishop Kevin Doran underlined that the equal dignity of every person is beyond doubt.
However, he said the forthcoming referendum, which is planned for May, is about the meaning of marriage.
If passed, the referendum will change the meaning of marriage and raise serious questions about parenthood, he said.
“Children have a right”, as Pope Francis says, “to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development”, the Bishop states.
He urges people to read carefully what is written in the pastoral statement ‘The Meaning of Marriage’, which can obtained through local parishes or on the website www.catholicbishops.ie.
Elsewhere in his Christmas message, the Bishop of Elphin said Christmas is a time of many images of parcels and reindeer, candles and trees.
He said the image that is always strongest for him is the image of family.
“Christmas brings me face to face with the Holy Family of Nazareth, the family into which Jesus was born and grew to human maturity, nourished by the love of Joseph and Mary.”
He added that he finds himself each Christmas giving thanks for the gift ofhis own family which was – and still remains – an important influence in who he is as a person.
“It is important not to over-romanticise our notion of family. Love is challenging. Men and women struggle with what it involves,” the Bishop of Elphin acknowledged and added that the family of Nazareth struggled with it too.
“Many families in our diocese face particular difficulties relating to the economy, to ill-health and to the breakdown of relationship, to mention just the more obvious challenges.”
Referring to ‘The Meaning of Marriage’, he said in it the bishops had stated that “it is not sufficient for us to talk about the importance of family.”
“We also have a responsibility to do all that we can to offer practical support for marriage in our parish communities, in our liturgies and our pastoral action and, as individual members of society, through our social and political action.”
“I hope that our celebration of Christmas and our prayer before the crib can help to reawaken in all of us, an awareness of what it means to be the family of God, and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.”
“Perhaps, without any hint of interference, you may be able, from your family, to reach out to another family in need of support.”