| 16.9°C Dublin

McGuinness angers Church by standing up for gay rights

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, a practising Catholic, has been attacked by a leading churchman after openly expressing his support for gay marriage and adoption, as well as abortion under certain circumstances. Mr McGuinness, who is interviewed in this week's Irish Catholic, also denies there is any antagonism in Sinn Fein towards the Catholic Church.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, a practising Catholic, has been attacked by a leading churchman after openly expressing his support for gay marriage and adoption, as well as abortion under certain circumstances.

Mr McGuinness, who is interviewed in this week's Irish Catholic, also denies there is any antagonism in Sinn Fein towards the Catholic Church.

He dismisses Catholic Church opposition to gay marriage, reiterated in a Vatican document issued last year and says he backs his party's support for gay marriage and adoption on the grounds that we "live in a new age of equality".

Mr McGuinness also says he personally supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is at risk.

Mr McGuinness has been attacked over his remarks by one of the Church's leading academics. Fr Brendan Purcell, a lecturer in philosophy at UCD, rounded on Mr McGuinness saying it is "unacceptable and inconsistent for a Catholic politician to so drastically detach his politics from the teachings of his Church in this way".

Father Purcell said: "A person's religious beliefs shouldn't be all but irrelevant to his politics. A Catholic politician is not bound to legislate Church teaching, but where your Church teaches that something is a basic human right, for example the right to life, or the right of a child to have a mother and father, you can't simply jettison these teachings from your political life."

He added: "Church/State separation doesn't mean that Catholic beliefs concerning human rights must not be allowed to influence how politicians vote. Why should religious beliefs be barred from the public arena in this way when so many other beliefs, including the belief in equality, are not?"

In the interview, Mr McGuinness says that both he and Gerry Adams gain "solace" from attending Mass and that this is respected by other members of the party.

"I go to Mass every Sunday and I haven't found antagonism in Sinn Fein to the Church. Sure, people have different views, and different beliefs in all walks of life and all political parties, but no one has ever questioned my religion within the party or that I go to Mass.

"Gerry Adams, like me, regards himself as a Catholic, and finds solace in going to Mass as I do. No, I find respect for my faith within the party as I respect the right of other people to believe what they want."

Defending his party's backing for gay marriage and gay adoption, he says: "We undoubtedly live in a new age of equality when people are becoming increasingly conscious of their rights. We need to ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

"What we need to do is to be compassionate with all these situations. I am sure that there are many people within the Catholic Church - perhaps more at priest level than in the hierarchy - who have compassionate views on all these things."

Turning to abortion, he says that Sinn Fein is "absolutely opposed to abortion as a means of birth control".

"Personally, I am opposed to abortion as a means of birth control but there are difficult situations which occur that society must face up to."

He says that these include "rape, incest, life-threatening circumstances facing the mother and ectopic pregnancy".


Most Watched





Privacy