Archbishop of Dublin calls on voters to remember values of ‘Catholic tradition’ in referendums

Dermot Farrell says moral obligation to protect institution of marriage and support the vulnerable will remain regardless of outcome

There will “continue to be a moral obligation” on governments and public policy to protect the institution of marriage and support vulnerable people and their families regardless of the outcome of next Friday’s referendums, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell has said.

He said debate before the referendums offered “a chance to talk sensibly about what values our society should follow and what rules we need to keep those values”.

“I encourage you to inform yourself more about the issues involved and the values of the Catholic tradition as you vote,” Archbishop Farrell said in a statement.

He said it was clear “that there are legitimate differences of view on the proposed referendums” and it is “the duty of citizens to consider and evaluate these arguments and to take the opportunity to inform themselves on the issues”.


Constitutional amendments were “too important not to be a considered and evaluated on their own merits”, he said, as he “strongly” encouraged people to read a statement from the Catholic Bishops on the proposals as it “raises some legitimate concerns which it asks people to bear in mind”.


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In referendums to take place on March 8th, the Government proposes expanding the definition of family in the Constitution to recognise “durable relationships”, such as cohabiting couples and their children, and to replace the language around “women in the home” with wording recognising care within families.

Archbishop Farrell said it was “important to take part in the democratic process” and that “we need to think about our Catholic values when we vote and choose policies that respect human dignity, help everyone, and protect those who are vulnerable”.

He said the Catholic Church had “a strong tradition of valuing families as the foundation of society” and that marriage was “a foundation stone of family”.

“One of the goods of marriage is that it is a public commitment to the service of family. It is vital then to society that it supports and protects marital families. It should not be neglected and sidelined. At the same time, I recognise that all families should be helped in ways that especially support the vulnerable and those most need of care.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times