By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 April, 2015
Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin has said many of the faithful who believe in the uniqueness of marriage as a union between a man and a woman wonder if they are entitled to express this view publicly anymore because it might offend others.
In his address for Divine Mercy Sunday in Knock, the bishop spoke about the importance of mercy but underlined that it is important not to simply speak about mercy in a vacuum.
Referring to the forthcoming referendum on the meaning of marriage, Bishop Doran said he understood it was “quite painful for some people because the question of same-sex relationships touches them in the reality of their own families”.
Dr Doran said that the faithful, without apologising for the truth, do “need to be conscious – in the manner in which we express ourselves – of the hurt that people may be experiencing”.
But he also underlined that as citizens “we are all entitled to cast our vote according to what we believe to be true”.
He added that he believed there is a moral responsibility on all citizens who have a vote to exercise it, unless they are physically unable to do so.
Elsewhere, the bishops’ spokesman on ethics said the idea that marriage is between a man and a woman is not a uniquely Christian one but is rooted in the nature of our humanity.
Looking beyond the 22 May referendum, he warned that as with every issue that divides people, “there will be a need for mercy when all of this is over”.
“No moral pronouncement, and likewise no referendum, should ever be about crushing people,” Bishop Doran stated.
He also underlined that the faithful must never place themselves in the position of judge over another person, in order to condemn him or her.
“God alone can see into the depths of another person’s conscience and pronounce him or her to be morally innocent or guilty,” he said.
He added, “If we, as Church, are showing people ‘the Way’, it will always be because we are helping them find the direction that is consistent with the Gospel, rather than simply condemning them because they are going the wrong way.”
Judgement must always be merciful, he warned, and said there is a moral responsibility on every Christian and indeed every citizen to make a judgement about the forthcoming referendum, a judgement which is based on the truth.
Elsewhere in his homily, the Bishop acknowledged that there is quite a lot said these days about the importance of being non-judgemental and that people are fond of quoting Pope Francis saying, “Who am I to judge”?
Asking what that actually means, Dr Doran said the paradox is that “we live in a world which is anything but merciful”.
“This is due in part to the fact that we live our lives in a much more public way than any generation before us.”
Today, it seems that the nearest smartphone is never more than a few metres away. People are recorded, tweeted and judged in a matter of seconds, presumably by people ‘who never put a foot wrong in their lives’,” he criticised.
He added, “Let us be honest … there is a market out there for watching other people squirm”, he admonished.