Friday 19 January 2018

Bishop Willie Walsh: 'I don't accept the referendum as a defeat for humanity'

Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O'Reilly with his predecessor Dr Willie Walsh
Bishop of Killaloe Kieran O'Reilly with his predecessor Dr Willie Walsh
Bishop Willie Walsh

David Kearns

The Vatican was wrong to label the marriage equality referendum as “a defeat for humanity” says retired bishop Willie Walsh.

The bishop emeritus of Killaloe said he could not support comments by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who yesterday said the same-sex marriage referendum was not only "a defeat for Christian principles, but also a defeat for humanity."

“I was quite uncomfortable with that statement. I mean there has been lots of disasters in the world but I certainly would not support the belief that the referendum was among them.”

“To suggest that over a million people who went to the polls and voted yes were so false in their judgment that it was a disaster for humanity is not something I can accept,” he said.

Read More: Same-sex marriage vote 'a defeat for humanity' - cardinal

Speaking on RTE Radio, the retired bishop said he “seriously doubted” that the sentiments expressed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin was shared by Pope Francis.

“It is an inappropriate statement… [and] not one I think that represents the mind of Pope Francis despite it coming from a very senior Church figure.”

“It is a very heavy judgement on the whole issue.”

Asked if he had supported the referendum, Bishop Walsh declined to answer but did say that "one could hardly look at the celebrations and say it didn’t increase the sum of human happiness [in Ireland]."

Read More: The Catholic Church can learn a lot from referendum result

Yesterday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, seen as the number two at the Vatican, insisted Saturday’s referendum result showed "the church must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation".

“I believe that we are talking here not just about a defeat for Christian principles, but also about a defeat for humanity," he added.

He also quoted Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who said the Catholic Church in Ireland would have to take the “reality” of the vote on board.

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