In a welcome refusal to dictate to Irish Catholics how to vote on tomorrow’s gay marriage referendum, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has in effect left this as a conscience vote for gay Catholics.
Archbishop Martin’s stance is in marked contrast to his many episcopal colleagues, in the USA, in Scotland and England, in France and many other countries, who have attempted unsuccessfully, to persuade Catholics that opposition to marriage equality is a requirement of their faith. His stance is also in firm accordance with the stance of Pope Francis, who has said that bishops should spend less time dictating to Catholics, and more in pastoral care.
The claim that opposition to gay marriage is a requirement of Catholic faith, obscures the important facts that authentic Catholicism emphasises the primacy of faith – and for many people, support for equality arises not in spite of their faith, but because of it.
Wherever opinion polls on support for gay marriage have been conducted, a regular finding has been that in general, Catholics have been at least as supportive as the general population, and frequently more so. It is no surprise that Irish opinion polls are currently expecting a strong vote in favour, in this heavily Catholic country. Where bishops have campaigned actively against, their main “achievement” has been to alienate and antagonise large sections of their Catholic communities.
Archbishop declines to tell Catholics how to vote in referendum
Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has declined to comment on the position of those Catholics who may vote Yes in Friday’s same-sex marriage referendum. It was not his policy “to tell others how to vote”, a spokeswoman said, while he stressed “that people should be informed”.
Responding to a query from The Irish Times as to the position of Catholics who may in conscience vote Yes on Friday, she said: “Archbishop Martin has publicly stated how he intends to vote and why.
“It is not his policy, however, to tell others how to vote except to stress that, given the importance of marriage and the family, decisions should not be taken lightly and that people should be informed of what is involved.”