Wednesday 28 September 2016

Priest goes against his bishop to back 'Yes' campaign

Greg Harkin

Published 09/05/2015 | 02:30

Last Sunday the Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce issued a pastoral letter at Masses speaking out against the ‘Yes’ campaign
Last Sunday the Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce issued a pastoral letter at Masses speaking out against the ‘Yes’ campaign

A Catholic priest has backed a 'Yes' vote in the marriage-equality referendum - just days after his bishop spoke out in favour of a 'No' vote.

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Fr Brian Ó Fearraigh, a curate in Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal, said he didn't believe a 'Yes' vote would affect families or children.

However, last Sunday his boss, the Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce, issued a pastoral letter at Masses speaking out against the 'Yes' campaign.

It has since emerged that some priests did not read the letter out at church services, preferring instead to put it up on notice boards.

Fr Ó Fearraigh, a hugely popular priest in the gaeltacht area, said in a statement: "I'm of the belief that this referendum is purely a civil question and that the State cannot discriminate against its citizens.

"This civil marriage constitutional referendum, in my opinion, is about giving statutory recognition and protection, irrespective of sex, to the relationships of all people who publicly want such recognition by the State, nothing more, nothing less.

"I don't believe that a 'Yes' vote will actively impact children's well-being.

"What is important - irrespective of the family configuration that children are a part of, and I think we all recognise that there are many different kinds of family formations - is that every child is valued, loved and accepted."

Fine Gael ministers James Reilly and Paschal Donohoe took their campaign to the Ireland versus England cricket game in Dublin yesterday.

Dr Reilly hit out at suggestions from the 'No' side that civil partnerships were adequate for gay couples

"I'm a married man. I wouldn't trade in my marriage for a civil partnership. Why would I?

"It is not protected under our Constitution like my marriage is. I wouldn't accept being told that my relationship is less than everybody else's," he said. "I don't want to live in an Orwellian world where all people are equal, but some people are more equal than others."

Mr Donohoe said: "It is difficult to understate the importance of how the country casts its vote on May 22.

"This is about saying to gay people that we value them as equals. These people are our friends, neighbours, cousins."

He said that Ireland needed to send a "positive message to gay people now and in future generations" that it is OK to be who you are and that everyone is equal under the Constitution.

Irish Independent

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