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[ 2015-05-24 ]

Catholic Church left reeling by Ireland’s stunning vote for gay marriage
The Catholic church in Ireland has been left
reeling after voters overwhelmingly gave their
approval to gay marriage in a historic

Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, said
that religious leaders needed to do a “reality
check” and could not ignore a “social revolution”
in which nearly two thirds of voters backed
same-sex unions.

Ireland became the first country in the world to
vote for equal marriage rights for same-sex
couples in the national referendum on Friday. New
laws paving the way for same-sex marriage will
pass in parliament in weeks, ministers said.

The archbishop today called for soul searching
over whether church had “drifted away completely
from young people” in some areas of its teaching.
He suggested that the size of the vote shows how
the church has a “huge task” to reach younger
generations “not just on this issue, but in

His comments came as Church of Ireland bishops
issued a statement calling for a “spirit of
generosity” from both sides in the hotly-contested

The widely tipped “yes” vote marked a step change
in opinion in a largely conservative Catholic
country where homosexuality was made legal only 22
years ago.

The archbishop said the result showed how the
church had failed to keep up with the changing
views of young people in particular.

“We tend to think in black and white, but most of
us live in the area of grey, and if the church has
a harsh teaching, it seems to be condemning those
who are not in line with it,” he said. “The
church’s teaching, if it isn’t expressed in terms
of love - then it’s got it wrong.”

His call for tolerance was echoed in a statement
from the bishops, which said: “We would now
sincerely urge a spirit of public generosity, both
from those for whom the result of the referendum
represents triumph, and from those for whom it
signifies disaster.”

Campaigners for the anti-gay marriage “no”
campaign conceded defeat shortly after ballot
counting started on Saturday morning.

Final official results showed that 62 per cent of
voters backed a change to the 1937 Constitution to
allow marriage “without distinction as to their
sex”, which was approved by a majority in all but
one of Ireland’s 43 constituencies. Analysts said
it had received resounding backing even in
traditionally conservative rural districts.

Several Catholic bishops had written open letters
to congregations before the vote outlining
concerns about gay marriage and why the church
would not support the reform. Religious groups
that campaigned against the change were
philosophical in defeat yesterday.

Pro-gay marriage groups celebrated as the extent
of the strength of support for gay marriage became

Colm O’Gorman, director of Amnesty International
Ireland and a married gay man with two children,
said that the outcome would send a message around
the globe. “It has a great resonance here in
Ireland, but it’s one that’s going to echo around
the world,” he said.

Leo Varadkar, health minister and Ireland’s first
openly gay cabinet member, said: “It was not just
a referendum ... it was more like a social

The huge majority favouring gay marriage raised
questions about if or when a similar referendum or
reform would be introduced in Northern Ireland -
the only region of the UK not to adopt similar

Amnesty revealed plans to strengthen its campaigns
for marriage equality in Belfast with a rally
planned for mid-June, while Sinn Fein pledged to
increase its efforts on the issue.

Source - The Times(UK)

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