Bishops yet to make decision on civil duties if referendum passes

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin spokeswoman says they will ‘cross bridges when they come’

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Catholic bishops have not made any decision on whether priests should decline to perform civil aspects of weddings if marriage is extended to same-sex couples following the May 22nd referendum. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Catholic bishops have not made any decision on whether priests should decline to perform civil aspects of weddings if marriage is extended to same-sex couples following the May 22nd referendum. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.

 

Catholic bishops have not made any decision on whether priests should decline to perform civil aspects of weddings if marriage is extended to same-sex couples following the May 22nd referendum.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said his view is that you “cross bridges when they come”. No other Catholic bishop has spoken on the matter to date.

In the Irish Catholic Church, the marriage registration form - a civil document required by the State in order to recognise a marriage - is signed after the wedding Mass.

It had been reported that the spokesman for Ireland’s Catholic bishops said the church may no longer perform this civil aspect of weddings if marriage is extended to same-sex couples.

In a submission to the Constitutional Convention in 2013, the Catholic bishops said any change to the definition of marriage would mean the Catholic church could no longer cooperate with the civil aspect of marriage.

At the time, Martin Long, director of the Catholic Communications Office said: “At the moment, on behalf of the State, the priest acts as the solemniser of the marriage between a woman and a man. Obviously, if the definition of marriage changes then this role will change.”

On Sunday, Mr Long confirmed this was still the position of the bishops, stating: “This was the last public authoritative intervention. Nothing has changed since then.”

Interdenominational leaflet

Meanwhile, an interdenominational leaflet calling for a “No” vote in the referendum has been signed by 47 people, mainly clergy, including Catholic and Church of Ireland bishops.

Same-Sex Marriage Referendum 2015 - A Cross Denominational Response is signed by Catholic Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, Church of Ireland Bishop of Kilmore Ferran Glanfield, Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Raphoe David Huss, five Catholic parish priests, six Church of Ireland priests, and Dr John Murray of the Iona Institute.

Also included are 11 pastors of Pentecostal and Redeemed Christian Churches, two Presbyterian Ministers, two Methodist Ministers, Sr Bridget Dunne of Catholic Charismatic Renewal Ireland, healing nun Sr Briege McKenna, and eight Catholic lay readers.

Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Institute in Dublin has circulated a petition calling for the inclusion of a “conscientious objection” clause in the proposed amendment. Otherwise, “people of faith, who teach that marriage is between a man and a woman” would be “potentially criminalised”.