Archbishop and civil unions


Madam, - I have received a number of calls from people who feel that my remarks, as presented in your report of November 26th, "Bishops differ over emphasis on civil unions", seem to indicate that I do not accept Catholic teaching on marriage.

I was responding to a series of questions from journalists regarding a variety of aspects of the forthcoming Civil Partnership Bill. It is possible that the manner in which my different remarks appeared may have given rise to false interpretation.

While saying that I might have addressed the theme differently, I did clearly say that I was supportive of the basic content of Cardinal Brady's position on the Bill and of his comments at the recent Céifin conference.

Above all my remarks wished to stress that the Christian teaching on marriage, rather than starting out from negative criticisms, is a positive endorsement of the unique and irreplaceable contribution to society made by the family based on marriage, that is, on the mutual and exclusive love of husband and wife.

While stressing, as I have consistently done, the Christian teaching on the mutuality of the sexes as fundamental to the understanding of marriage, I am fully aware of the need to protect the rights of a variety of people in caring and dependent relationships, different to marriage.

Unfortunately, some members of the public and some public commentators seize on such comments and concern as an opportunity to say that I advocate positions in conflict with Catholic teaching. For my part, I regret if my comments may have appeared unclear. On the other hand, the contrived polemic of such commentators does little to promote marriage and its value to society.

- Yours, etc,

Archbishop DIARMUID MARTIN, Archbishop's House, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.