THE Catholic bishops have come out and publicly stated their absolute opposition to same-sex marriages.
In a statement released yesterday the Irish Bishop’s Conference reaffirmed its stance on gay people’s fight to have their relationships recognised. The bishops said marriage should be more than a relationship between two people and could not be compromised by personal or legal trends.
“Christian tradition holds that sexual differentiation is intrinsic to our understanding of the sacrament of marriage. Marriage has a meaning that is not reducible to individuals’ intentions and society’s laws.
“Marriage is not perceived as just any kind of relationship, but as a quite specific kind of relationship, with certain core characteristics,” the bishops’ statement said.
In this country the debate on gay marriage has been focused on the recognition of civil arrangements and the Government has yet to produce its proposals on gay unions. However, so far the Church has remained largely in the wings as lesbian couple Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan pursued a legal battle to have their marriage recognised.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear their appeal later this year after the High Court refused to recognise their marriage.
Globally the debate has been even more fractious. The Anglican community, considered the Christian religion closest to Catholicism, is currently on the verge of a schism because of its stance on homosexuality.
Its once-a-decade international Lambeth conference, to be held next month, has already been overshadowed by conservative churches in America and Canada breaking away because of the ordination of gay men and women. Last week this issue was further complicated with the marriage of two gay ordained ministers in Britain, which the Church of England is investigating.
It was in this context the Bishop’s Conference discussed the institute of marriage at its June general meeting, which was held in Maynooth last week.
The Conference said while the debate continued it was an appropriate time to remind people of its position. It said marriage should only take place between people of opposite sexes.
“In view of the current debate in our society about the nature of marriage, sometimes promoted by individuals or institutions who claim support from Christian ideals, the bishops reiterated that marriage presupposes the mutuality and complementarity of the sexes.”
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