Following the announcement by the Irish Government that it will hold a referendum on same sex marriage in May 2015, Bishop Denis Nulty the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin issued a strong statement of opposition to the proposed changes to the very essence of marriage and by extension, the family.
The debate at the heart of the referendum announced today by the Government is not about equality or about the false separation of a religious view of marriage from the civil view of marriage. It is about the very nature of marriage itself and the importance society places on the role of mothers and fathers in bringing up children. With others, the Catholic Church will continue to hold that the differences between a man and woman are not accidental to marriage but fundamental to it and that children have a natural right to a mother and a father and that this is the best environment for them where possible.Married love is a unique form of love between a man and woman which has a special benefit for the whole of society. With others of no particular religious view, the Church regards the family based on marriage between a woman and a man as the single most important institution in any society.To change the nature of marriage would be to undermine it as the fundamental building block of our society. The Church will therefore participate fully in the democratic debate leading up to the referendum and will seek with others to reaffirm the rational basis for holding that marriage should be reserved for the unique and complimentary relationship between a woman and a man from which the generation and upbringing of children is uniquely possible.As Christians our primary commandment is to love. Love always demands that we respect the dignity of every human person. That is why the Catholic Church clearly teaches that people who are homosexual must always be treated with sensitivity, compassion and respect. It is not lacking in sensitivity or respect for people who are homosexual however to point out that same-sex relationships are fundamentally different from opposite sex relationships and that society values the complementary roles of mothers and fathers in the generation and up-bringing of children.
It is heartening to know that the Irish Bishops intend to participate fully in the democratic debate leading up to the referendum and will work with others to oppose it.
We agree that our primary commandment as Christians is to Love. Love however is not just about respecting the dignity of others it is also about upholding the truth even if by doing so others are offended. The expression of truth in love is at the heart of the Christian message which in addition to respecting dignity must have an eternal perspective in caring for the immortal souls of those who are in error.