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Archbishop says Irish referendum has left the Church grieving

Archbishop Eamon Martin (Photo: PA)

The Archbishop of Armagh has said the same-sex marriage referendum result left the Catholic Church with a feeling of “bereavement”, according to the Irish Times.

Archbishop Eamon Martin told RTÉ Radio One’s Sean O’Rourke that the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, accurately expressed Catholics’ “deeply held convictions about the meaning of marriage” with his comments regarding the result as a “defeat for humanity”.

Archbishop Martin said: “One of the difficulties of the debate was that we had two parallel discussions going on. One was about the meaning of marriage and the other was about respecting gay people and showing tolerance.”

Clarifying the cardinal’s comments, he said the referendum result was not just a defeat for Catholicism but a defeat for humanity.

“I think what he was trying to do was express the loss that has occurred here and we do feel it’s a loss. Something very unique and precious has been lost. That’s not in any way to say that there are not a lot of people who were very happy with the result, and we could see that on the night,” said the archbishop. “I think what the cardinal was trying to do was express that sense of loss, bereavement even.”

Archbishop Martin expressed his support for those who “took what was a courageous decision” to preserve the sacred nature of a marriage between a man and a woman.

“Many people were quite conflicted about voting,” he said. “In some ways some people were very quiet that they were indeed voting no,” adding that he has since received letters from people who are “disappointed and saddened” by the result.

But he stressed that the people who voted no should not think of themselves as inconsequential.

“I don’t think three-quarters of a million people is irrelevant,” he said. “I’m very grateful for them following the advice of their priests and their bishops and the Church in voting no. None of these people were voting no to be offensive or bigoted or homophobic.”