The Catholic Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran has accused the Government of misleading the public over the impact of the marriage equality referendum.
Bishop Doran said that, contrary to what the Government claimed, the vote on May 22 would fundamentally change the position of children.
“The Government has been trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes on this. What’s actually happening in the referendum, if it’s passed, is that because there is a redefinition of marriage, there’s also a redefinition of parenthood.
“While the Government is currently putting through the Child and Family Relationships Bill — which redefines parenthood — that would still only have the force of law, but it would gain the force of the Constitution in a referendum that would change the definition of marriage.”
He said he rejected statements by Communications Minister Alex White, director of the Labour Party’s yes campaign, that nobody would lose anything if the referendum was passed.
“Children lose the right to have a relationship with their parents,” he claimed. “Children are being brought into a situation where at least one of the people entrusted with responsibility for their care will not be their parent.
“They may be recognised in law as their parent but the whole relationship between life-giving and parenthood is being separated.
“This is not about saying that people who are gay are not able to love but it’s about saying that children need a mother and a father.”
Bishop Doran’s comments, in advance of the spring meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth, were rejected by yes campaigners.
Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland, described them as “bizarre”, “offensive”, and “nonsense”, saying they reduce parenthood to a sexual act.
“His comments were pretty shortsighted and will probably have caused offence to a very wide range of Irish families.”
Bishop Doran said while some gay people might be genetically predisposed to homosexuality, he believed others were led into gay life through youthful confusion over their sexuality.
He also suggested the idea of legislating for terminations in the case of fatal foetal abnormality was rooted in money because the Government did not want to pay for hospices for terminally ill children.
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