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Church leaders respond to referendum outcome

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 May, 2015

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gives his address on the theme 'The Teaching of the Church on Marriage Today'. Pic John McElroy.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gives his address on the theme ‘The Teaching of the Church on Marriage Today’. Pic John McElroy.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said he appreciates how the passing of the marriage referendum leaves gay and lesbian men and women feeling and he paid tribute to the “immense effort” that went in to the referendum campaign.

Speaking to RTE News, the Archbishop said he appreciated the efforts particularly of the No side.

“It was a principled vote. People, I hope, will respect that,” he commented.

He said it was very clear that if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people that the Church has “a huge task in front of it” to find the language to be able to talk to and get its message across to young people, not just on this issue but in general.

“I think the Church needs to do a reality check, right across the board, to look at the things it is doing well and to look at the areas that we really have drifted away completely from young people.”

He also commented on the fact that most of those young people who voted Yes are the product of 12 years of catholic schooling.

“There is a big challenge there to see how do we get across the message of the Church. There are huge things going on in the Catholic Church in this country of which we can be immensely proud,” he said and referred to the opening of St Francis’ Hospice in Blanchardstown which he had just blessed.

“But I do think we need a real reality check to sit down and say are we reaching out at all to young people and how far do you have robust discussion with young people in which you challenge them and they challenge me – we’re not doing that.”

He warned that the Church was becoming “a safe space for the like-minded rather than the Church which Pope Francis is talking about, which is reaching out.”

But the Primate of Ireland emphasised that this did not mean renouncing the Church’s teachings on the fundamental values of marriage and the family.

“Nor does it mean that we dig into the trenches.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said it was now time to focus on inequalities in Irish society such as poverty, access to education, employment and healthcare.

Separately, the archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland said in a statement that they wished to affirm that in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, the people had acted fully within their rights.

In their statement on Saturday they said, “The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.”

“The Church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the State, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set.”

“Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may – in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law – continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.”

“We would now sincerely urge a spirit of public generosity, both from those for whom the result of the referendum represents triumph, and from those for whom it signifies disaster.”

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