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Church divided over fallout from gay marriage vote


Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Stark differences are emerging between the Irish Church and some high profile Vatican prelates over the landmark marriage referendum vote.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, believes that the discussions around the referendum helped people become more aware of the "alienation and isolation often experienced by gay people".

Speaking at the annual Armagh diocesan pilgrimage to Knock shrine, the Archbishop said that among the many lessons that the Church could learn from the referendum debate was to re-commit itself to the pastoral care of anyone in society experiencing "victimisation and stigmatisation".

However, the tone of his comments contrasts with those of Cardinal Raymond Burke, who condemned the people of Ireland last Wednesday, saying: "This is a defiance of God. It's just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage."

Formerly the Vatican's top legal adviser, the cardinal who was demoted by Pope Francis late last year, added that he struggled to understand "any nation redefining marriage".

But in his homily in Knock on Sunday, Archbishop Martin said he had received correspondence from many people who said they were conflicted about how to vote. But they voted in favour of the amendment, believing it to be "a way of showing tolerance and respect towards gay people, including family members and friends," he said.

Dr Martin expressed hope the Catholic Church would continue to have an important voice.

"In post-referendum Ireland, the duty of proclaiming the 'Gospel of the Family' and caring for the 'covenant of marriage' remains with each member of the Church."

Separately, a Dublin parish priest has described the referendum vote as a wake-up call for the Church, saying it needs to have a discussion on the way people who are divorced or separated are treated.

Fr Gary Darby, of Portmarnock parish, said that for some people in abusive relationships, the only opportunity for happiness is to separate or divorce.

The cleric suggested that gay people need to be included in the Church and that married and women priests must also be discussed.

Irish Independent