Bishop Philip Boyce: Pastoral Catechesis on Marriage and the Family

03 May 2015

Is the upcoming Referendum aimed at establishing equality and removing discrimination?
All people are equal before the law and in God’s eyes. At the same time, people are different. A man and a woman have different but complementary gifts. Equality and human rights should be afforded to everyone, but it should be done without sacrificing the institution of marriage and the family. The Church respects an equality that recognises difference – not an equality that destroys all difference. To recognise the difference in the way we are made is not discrimination and it does not undermine equality.

Are same-sex couples at a disadvantage?
Civil partnership recognises same-sex unions and can give them legal rights, without changing the definition of marriage and the family. The Church teaches that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358).

Are fathers and mothers necessary?
Fathers and mothers are most important. A man and a woman complement each other in a way that two men or two women cannot. At certain periods in a child’s growth, a mother‘s love and care are of the greatest advantage; at other times, it is a father’s love and strength and example that are most needed. We should not deliberately deprive children, yet to be born, of a father or a mother, leaving them fatherless or motherless by design. By voting for the so-called gender theory, as if there were no difference between a man and a woman in marriage, “we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution” (Pope Francis, 15 April 2015).

What would Jesus say?
In the beginning “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘be fruitful and multiply’ ” (Gen. 9: 27-28). The Lord Jesus said: “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female?… for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one” (Mt. 19: 4-5).

Does the Referendum, if carried, affect children?
Yes, it would have serious implications. Every child, no matter what sexual orientation he/she may have, has the human right to a father and a mother. We should not vote to legalise intentionally a situation where a child would be fatherless or motherless, not able to say ‘dad’ and ‘mammy’ to two parents.

What about the family?
The Referendum aims at changing the meaning of “family” and “marriage”. We are being asked to change our Constitution, so that marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction to their sex. Yet, two persons of the same sex cannot procreate children. The reason why the State recognises and supports the family is precisely because of children. The future of a nation depends on them. We must affirm the right of children to grow up in a family, with a father and mother, in an atmosphere suitable for their development and emotional maturity. Therefore, use your vote.

Can you with a clear conscience vote “yes”? No, I cannot.

Are you voting ‘No’?
For the sake of marriage, for the sake of the family, for the sake of children, I am voting “NO”.

+ Philip Boyce
Bishop of Raphoe