Martin refuses to back Bishop Doran after interview

‘Unfortunate phrase’ used saying people with children not necessarily parents

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh (right) and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin pictured at the Columba Centre in Maynooth on Tuesday where they held a press conference on the Catholic Church’ stance on the forthcoming same sex marriage referendum. Photograph: Collins

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has refused to say whether Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran retains his confidence in discussing same sex issues following the interview Bishop Doran gave Newstalk Radio on Monday.

The Archbishop was speaking at a hastily arranged press conference in Maynooth on Tuesday where he was joined by the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Diarmuid Martin is vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference.

The Catholic Bishops are currently attending their Spring meeting in Maynooth.


In a statement Archbishop Eamon Martin reaffirmed the Catholic bishops’ opposition to a Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum on May 22nd next.

Asked whether Bishop Doran had his confidence following a Newstalk interview he gave on Monday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin replied: “I won’t go into that”.

He continued “I believe certain types of language are inappropriate.”

He described as “an unfortunate phrase,” a comment by Bishop Doran in the interview that “people who have children are not necessarily parents.”

The Archbishop continued: “I hope that people were not offended by it. We have used the term parenthood…we talk about adoptive parents, we talk about lone parents. “There are very many, many definitions. I think that we should look on that variety of situations in a way that is more positive. We shouldn’t use phrases that may offend people.”

When it was put to him that Bishop Doran had been fronting the Catholic bishops stance on the marriage equality referendum, the Archbishop of Dublin said the position was being fronted “by the President and Vice President of the Conference. That is why we are here today.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin said “I believe there are many different kinds of parenthood and indeed there are many gay people who are parents.”

He also said “Bishop Kevin Doran told me himself last night…that he regrets any hurt that his words may have caused to anyone either by what he said or how they were represented.”

On Bishop Doran’s claim that “the jury is out” on whether people were born gay or became gay Archbishop Eamon Martin said “I believe people are born the way they are born and I believe that God creates us as we are”.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: “You will notice I always use the term people with homosexual or same sex orientation. The fundamental thing is that they are people, men and women with a unique dignity which can never be taken away from them. That’s the fundamental thing.”

Outlining the bishops’ opposition to the marriage equality referendum, Archbishops Eamon Martin said: “The bishops are coming to this of course as a people of faith with a very strong understanding of marriage as a sacrament grounded in scripture, grounded in our Church’s teaching.

“We’re also approaching it as people of reason and from reason. As we say in the statement, we believe that many of the truths of marriage are attainable through reason and we believe that marriage has huge implications for society….it is something that knits society together and therefore we believe we’ve a message not only for people of faith and people of our own faith tradition but for people of all faiths and none.”

He also said: "I think it's important for people to hear from their priests and from their bishops what the Catholic Church actually teaches on this issue. Pope Francis has been absolutely clear that he does not see the marriage of two men or two women as being the same as marriage between a husband and wife which is open to procreation."

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin added: “The teaching of the Church is very clear.”

Statement from the Spring General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

‘Marriage is important - Reflect before you change it’ -

March 10th, 2015

Within weeks the people of Ireland will be asked to vote in a referendum that will change the meaning of marriage in the Constitution of Ireland.

Marriage is of fundamental importance for children, mothers and fathers, and society - all of us need to reflect deeply before changing it. We ask the people of Ireland to consider very carefully the profound implications which this constitutional amendment would have on the family environment and on our understanding of parenthood.

We respect the views of people who think differently to us, trusting that our sincerely held views, grounded in faith, will also be heard and respected.

We come to this debate believing that the union of a man and a woman in marriage, open to the procreation of children, is a gift from God who created us ‘male and female’. Reason also points to the truth about human sexuality that makes the relationship between a man and a woman unique. Mothers and fathers bring different, yet complementary gifts and strengths into a child’s life.

We cannot support an amendment to the Constitution which redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on a par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife which is open to the procreation of children.

We are concerned that, should the amendment be passed, it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman. What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience? Can a way be found to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the fundamental meaning of marriage as commonly understood across cultures, faiths and down the ages?

Already, in The Children and Family Relationships Bill, it is proposed to remove mention of mothers and fathers from a whole raft of previous legislation.

We encourage everyone to think about these issues and to vote on May 22nd. The effects of this proposed amendment will be far-reaching for this and for future generations. We say to all voters: Marriage is important - Reflect before you change it.

We invite people of faith to bring this decision to prayer. In the coming weeks, and particularly in May, the month of Mary, we call for prayer for Marriage and the Family.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times