THE head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has given the strongest indication yet that the hierarchy may order dioceses to cease facilitating civil wedding ceremonies if this month’s referendum on marriage equality is carried.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said that if civil marriage was redefined the Church would have to consider the implications.
More than 70% of marriages in Ireland are celebrated in church, with both the civil and religious elements taking place within the same ceremony, unlike what pertains in most European countries, where they are entirely separate.
“It is clearly an issue for us,” Archbishop Martin said. “We would have to look at legislation to see is it possible for us to continue to stand over our ministers being involved in civil ceremonies.”
It would also become an issue for the State and could even herald a more formal separation of Church and State.
However, if the referendum is carried, the bishops should not lay the blame on same-sex couples just because they are now allowed to have a civil ceremony at a registration office.
For guidance on this, they need look no further than St Mark’s Gospel (12:13-17), where Jesus advises the faithful: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
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