People embrace as the final vote of the referendum on same-sex marriage is announced May 23 in Dublin. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops' conference, says the church must do more to reach out to gay people. CNS photo/Aidan Crawley, EPA

Irish vote could push same-sex unions to fore of upcoming Synod

By 
  • June 4, 2015

The immediate repercussions from the Irish referendum where voters overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage were obvious, but the long-term impact on the Church may come beginning this October.

That’s when the Synod of Bishops on the Family takes place and same-sex marriage is sure to be part of the debate. We’ll soon get a sense of how large a part because a working document, or in-depth agenda, for this year’s Synod is scheduled to be published in the coming weeks.

For many Catholics, the same-sex marriage question is not easy to resolve in their minds. The Church is clear in its opposition. And many support the Church’s position, while others are okay with same-sex unions so long as they do not have the stature of marriage between man and woman, and still others support marriage regardless of the sex of the partners.

This enigmatic aspect of the same-sex marriage question could even be felt by the responses from two senior Church officials. (As of this writing, Pope Francis had yet to publicly comment on the Irish vote where 62 per cent said “Yes” to include same-sex marriage in the country’s constitution.)

Immediately after results came in, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said: “It is very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people … (then the Church needs) a reality check.” He went on further to say “a reality check right across the board, to look at things (the Church is) doing well, to look at areas where we really have to start and say, ‘Look, have we drifted away completely from the young people?’ ”

The archbishop’s response was circumspect, but one must also wonder why he limited it to “young people” because surely there were many people over the age of 50 who were part of the 62 per cent who voted yes.

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