Tuesday 25 October 2016

Not all Catholics are against marriage equality

Published 07/05/2015 | 02:30

'Jesus proclaimed a vision of an alternative society based on justice, equality and inclusivity'
'Jesus proclaimed a vision of an alternative society based on justice, equality and inclusivity'

Normally, when someone declares oneself a person of faith - in my case a Catholic - the public, with justification, will make the presumption that you are a staunch upholder of the status quo in society and in the case of the forthcoming marriage equality referendum, a definite 'No' voter.

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However, such a presumption is not justified anymore. Over the past 50 years there has been a significant change occurring, especially within the Irish Catholic Church.

This change is not seen among the hierarchy but is very evident among the non-cleric lay people who have decided to remain in their church to demand reform.

Very many Catholics, especially in the Western world, do not accept the traditional teachings of their church and yet still insist they are true and loyal followers of Jesus Christ.

When the media reports that the Catholic Church, from the Pope down, is against marriage equality, it does not mean that such a view represents the totality of its members.

Modern theology sees the church not as a static, hierarchical power structure but as the people of God in movement through history. There are leaders, of course, but they are out in front exercising true leadership not, as in the past, demanding absolute obedience from their sheep-like followers. Catholics do not leave their self autonomy and freedom of action at the door of their church when they enter it.

At the heart of this new vision of the church is the certainty that Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed a vision of an alternative society based on justice, equality and inclusivity. He welcomed all who were marginalised and treated as outcasts in his society.

As followers of the way of Jesus, we cannot accept an unjust society where between 5pc to 10pc of our citizens are marginalised when it comes to marriage equality while the rest of their sisters and brothers can enjoy the full exercise of their constitutional right to marry.

Catholic sexual morality is based on outdated biology and science and needs to be urgently modernised and integrated with contemporary developments in medicine, biology and the social sciences.

Social justice demands that the rights of all our citizens be upheld and respected. Each person has a right to personal fulfilment and happiness in our society. When civil rights are denied to people in a society for whatever reason, the society becomes corrupted with injustice - violence and scapegoating are its inevitable results.

When gay people are denied marriage equality, it not only perpetuates an unjust society, but it also diminishes the dignity of those who refuse to recognise the constitutional rights of their gay and lesbian sisters and brothers.

Brendan Butler

WE are Church Ireland

Media hostility to 'No' campaign

With May 22 approaching, it's time for this voter to assess the lobbies and decide whether to vote 'Yes' or 'No'.

I note that in the gay community, there are prominent speakers on both sides of the debate. I don't detect unanimity on the issue.

The Government parties are unanimously in favour of a 'Yes' vote. How authentic is this under a virtual oligarchy or government by a few, ie the leaders and deputy leaders of Fine Gael and Labour, backed by a strict whip system which brooks no opposition? In the absence of a free vote I don't know the views of the backbenchers: so, I doubt the credibility of the Government.

'Yes' is the choice of the media. Hostility to speakers for the 'No' campaign is obvious. When there are opposing panels on TV or radio, some presenters often align themselves on the 'Yes' side. Speakers for the 'No' side can be subjected to frequent interruptions. A 'Yes' speaker would seldom be challenged. After debates, a 'No' speaker can be the target of very unpleasant attention on social media, mainly personal abuse.

The churches generally say 'No'.

The Catholic Church states that marriage is between a man and woman united in the sexual act which can bring a child into existence. No other relationship can do this. It is the essence of marriage. No other relationship can be called 'marriage'. To refer to 'same-sex marriage' is clearly self-contradictory. To say that one is equal to the other is a misunderstanding of the essential meaning of marriage.

From this, I can see that no believing Catholic can, in good faith and conscience, vote 'Yes'.

I note, too, from the publication 'Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: A Cross-Denominational Response' that many Protestant churchmen propose to vote 'No'.

My own view? I note the word "equality" is being used by the 'Yes' lobby in a way which contradicts its essential meaning, since it is obvious that no same-sex relationship can be truthfully said to be equal to the union of a man and a woman united in marriage, with the possible conception of a child resulting from such a relationship. Anything else does not make sense.

For me, therefore, it is common sense to vote 'No'.

Joe Conroy

Naas, Co Kildare

Bank Inquiry's tea bill

Does the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry's €900 bill for tea and coffee suggest that somebody involved had an aversion to using the same tea bag twice?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Hung parliament good for UK

Is the UK entering a new terrain where one party rule is consigned to a bygone era?

Polls predict that no political party will have an absolute majority in the UK general election, resulting in a hung parliament.

However, this is a healthy outcome. As we live in a globalised world, challenges are increasingly becoming intertwined, with ever shrinking political and cultural hegemony. Solutions lie outside the purview of one major party.

The UK cannot withstand any internal wrangling, as it faces enormous challenges from terrorism to financial austerity, greenhouse gas emissions to health, income and gender inequities.

The country should punch above its weight to combat political, social and economic marginalisation and build a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and a fairer society where the youth, the asylum seekers, those with disabilities, the refugees the impoverished and the most vulnerable have a say in running their affairs.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, NW2, UK

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I have been following the debate about obesity and the fact that Ireland is on course to become the fattest country in Europe by 2030.

One could say that our waistbands have come full circle since the Famine.

Not PC, I know, but when even our salads are fattening, one wonders should it all be taken with a pinch of salt?

Rod O'Brien

Dalkey, Co Dublin

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