Church needs reality check in wake of Ireland referendum

The Catholic Church in Ireland needs a “reality check”, the Archbishop of Dublin said, in the wake of an overwhelming referendum vote for same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin also said the Church needs to ask itself if it has drifted away from young people.

In the referendum on May 22, voters were asked if they agreed with the statement:  “”Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.

Of votes cast, the “Yes” vote was 62.1 per cent to 37.9 per cent “No”.

The total turnout was 60.5 per cent.

Archbishop Martin acknowledged that there had been a “social revolution” – but it didn’t begin with the referendum.

“It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the Church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general,” he said.

When he met Pope Benedict after he became archbishop, the pope asked him about the points of contact between the Catholic Church and the places where the future of Irish culture was being formed, he said.

“And that’s a question the Church has to ask itself here in Ireland,” Dr Martin said.

“Most of these young people who voted ‘Yes’ are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years,” he said.

“There’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the Church . . .We need to sit down and say ‘are we reaching out at all to young people?’ . . . We’re becoming a Church of the like-minded, and a sort of a safe space for the like-minded,” he said.

The archbishop said this didn’t mean the Church renouncing its teaching on marriage and family.

Rather it needed to find a new language, which it owns, but others appreciate.

“The Church’s teaching, if it isn’t expressed in terms of love – then it’s got it wrong,” he added.


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