Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to vote No in referendum

Teachings of Christ being placed on ‘level of belief in leprechauns’

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said he is voting no in the same sex referendum. He has also criticised politicians who “rather than become involved in rational argument about concerns proposed by Church leaders ... simply respond with broken gramophone-like quick sound-bites.”

He was speaking on Wednesday to diocesan communications officers at All Hallows College in Dublin to the topic ‘Marriage in the constitution is linked with the family’.

“Bishops regularly speak out on social issues and their comments are often – if not always – welcomed. Indeed they are often criticised for not taking positions on social issues. In the heated debate today this relevance of rational reflection inspired by religious belief is being reduced by some at times to a level of banality in which faith in Jesus Christ and his teaching is being placed on the level of belief in leprechauns,” he said.

At the outset of his talk he said: “I think that I should begin by saying that I intend to vote No in the upcoming referendum on marriage. Why do I say that? I do not usually announce how I intend to vote or how I voted in an election. I will vote out of personal conviction.

"But I say so publically because in a recent curious report in the Irish Catholic, the editor of the Catholic Voice is quoted as saying that I had 'confused' the press by my attitude to the referendum and had given constant solace to the yes campaign. The occasion for the 'confusion' was a lengthy address I gave to the Iona Institute, the content of which neither the editor of the Irish Catholic or that of the Catholic Voice considered worthy of reporting," he said.

In that Iona address, on March 19th last, he had set out “what my concerns about the referendum were based on. These are the same fundamental concerns which Pope Francis espoused in his address at his General Audience on 15th April.”

The “complementarity of men and women, of male and female, in the nature of humanity” was a fundamental philosophical concept for him. One could only understand the equality of men and women “within the concept of complementarity,” he said.

He felt that “one of the big challenges in human rights theory is a tendency by some to absolutise an individual right, overlooking the fact that all rights can only be exercised within the context of the right of others and in an understanding of relationships that exist within society. We are not isolated individuals. That we exist as male and female is not a marginal dimension of being human.”

He found it “interesting that many of those supporting the yes campaign object to the use of religious language, but they are not shy in quoting Pope Francis in support of their arguments, although I feel that their knowledge of Pope Francis’ repertoire is somewhat restricted.”

A pluralist society “can be creative in finding ways in which people of same-sex orientation have their rights and their loving and caring relationships recognised and cherished in a culture of difference, while respecting the uniqueness of the male-female relationship,” he said.

“I know that the harshness with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past – and in some cases still today – may make it hard for LGBT people to accept that I am sincere in what I am proposing,” he said.

“The referendum will come and go....But the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family and its relevance to social ethics will remain the same, no matter the referendum result,” he said.

Read the full address here

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times