In the second of three messages on the upcoming Marriage Referendum, Bishop Francis Duffy has told the congregation in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois on Sunday that the referendum will change our understanding of marriage.
“Respect and dignity have not always been the experience of many in our society including those who are gay,” Bishop Duffy wrote.
“There are changes needed that will draw on our capacities of love, compassion and respect.
“However the question before us on May 22 proposes changing our understanding of marriage.
“Such a change potentially alters the whole structure of marriage and parenthood and also leaves us with unanswered questions about possible consequences.
“This deserves deep prayer and reflection as we consider the meaning of marriage,” the Bishop wrote.
The third message from the Bishop on the topic is due to be issued this weekend.
Meanwhile Bishop of Kilmore Leo O’Reilly issued a pastoral statement at the weekend urging people to vote No in the forthcoming referendum.
“I respect the views of people who think differently than I do, and I trust that the views that I express, which are grounded in my faith as a Catholic, will also be heard and respected,” Bishop O’Reilly wrote.
“My hope is that you will give this very important decision the attention it deserves and that you will think carefully about the issues involved:
“ I ask you to think about the issue of equality which has been put forward as the reason for the referendum. Pope Francis faced a similar referendum in Argentina when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
“This was his advice on the matter: “A marriage (made up of man and woman) is not the same as the union of two people of the same sex.
“ To distinguish is not to discriminate but to respect differences ... At a time when we place emphasis on the richness of pluralism and social and cultural diversity, it is a contradiction to minimize human differences. A father is not the same as a mother.”
Bishop O’Reilly also urged people to think of children and the wider implications of the referendum.
“Now every child has a natural mother and father. It is surely a fundamental right of a child that he or she should have the right to know and enjoy the companionship of its natural mother and father, where that is possible. Sometimes, through death or for other reasons this is not possible, and that is always painful and regrettable.
“This referendum, if passed, taken together with the provisions of the Children and Family Relationships Act, will deny the fundamental right of some children to a mother and a father - in plain contradiction of the recent children’s referendum.”