Marriage between a woman and a man is “the single most important institution in any society”. This is the message of the pastoral statement The Meaning of Marriage launched by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Wednesday.
The 16-page booklet, launched at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, by Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher and Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, is being distributed to over 1,300 parishes throughout Ireland. Bishop MacDaid is chairman of the bishops’ conference Council for Marriage and Family.
The Republic of Ireland is to vote on whether or not to introduce same-sex marriage at a referendum next May. Same-sex civil partnerships were introduced in Ireland in 2011.
In their statement the bishops said that “marriage should be reserved for the unique and complementary relationship between a woman and a man from which the generation and upbringing of children is uniquely possible”.
They added: “To seek to redefine the nature of marriage would be to undermine it as the fundamental building block of our society.”
They continued: “An essential characteristic of marriage is the biological fact that a man and a woman can join together as male and female in a union that is orientated to the generation of new life. The union of marriage provides for the continuation of the human race and the development of human society. It is precisely the difference between man and woman that makes possible this unique communion of persons, the unique partnership of life and love which is marriage.”
In a firm message to the Irish government they said: “It is a grave injustice if the state ignores the uniqueness of the role of husbands and wives, the importance of mothers and fathers in our society.”
Marriage, they concluded, “is a fundamental building block of society which makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good. It is therefore deserving of special recognition and promotion by the state.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.