· Statement of Ireland's Bishops in view of the constitutional referendum ·
On 22 May the people of Ireland will vote on a referendum that could change the meaning of marriage in the Constitution. Catholic Bishops have underlined the need for deep reflection in view of the upcoming popular vote. In a statement released during their Spring General Assembly, they indicated that “marriage is of fundamental importance for children, mothers and fathers, and society”, stating further 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”.
With regard to the possible modification of the Constitution, the episcopate explained its opposition to an amendment that “redefines marriage and effectively places the union of two men, or two women, on par with the marriage relationship between a husband and wife which is open to the procreation of children”. Additionally, the prelates expressed concern that, “should the amendment be passed, it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage” as a bond 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?”. Along with these questions the Bishops ask that 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”.
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