Bishops in call for changes to same-sex unions bill
Irish Catholic bishops last night intensified their uncompromising campaign to persuade politicians to dilute plans to give gay couples similar legal status to husbands and wives.
In a hard-hitting statement issued at the end of their three day meeting in Maynooth, the Irish Bishops' Conference revealed the strength of their opposition to the Civil Partnership Bill.
Specifically, the bishops called on the Government to amend its controversial proposal to allow registrars of civil marriage to refuse to record same-sex unions on conscientious grounds.
The bill, if passed in its present form, would impose a fine and or imprisonment of registrars who act in accordance with their conscience on the matter of same-sex unions.
Angrily protesting that such a move was contrary to the Constitution's protection of marriage based on the family, the bishops urged Brian Cowen's Government to support a free vote for all members of the Dail and the Seanad.
A key dynamic in the bishops' campaign will be their circulation to all Dail deputies and senators of 'Why Marriage Matters,' a statement of Catholic Church teachings published by the Bishops' Conference last March, reminding them of church teaching on marriage.