Vote for same sex marriage would be 'grave injustice': Irish church

Wed Dec 3, 2014 2:55pm EST
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's church said it would be "a grave injustice" if gay and lesbian couples were granted equality in marriage as it began an uphill battle to persuade voters to reject same sex marriage in a referendum next year.

Ireland will hold the vote just over two decades after the once stridently Catholic country legalized homosexuality and as the once dominant role of Catholicism fades amid revelations of rape and beatings by priests and members of religious orders.

With a recent poll showing 67 percent support for enshrining same-sex marriage in the constitution and 20 percent opposed, Ireland's Catholic bishops launched a 15-page pamphlet setting out its position.

It mirrored a document issued at the end of an assembly, or synod, of some 200 Roman Catholic bishops from around the world in October where they reversed a historic acceptance of gays, dropping parts of a document that had talked more positively of homosexuals than ever before.

"To put any other view of unions on the same level as christian marriage would be disservice to society rather than a service," Bishop Liam MacDaid told a news conference.

"In a same sex union, children would be deprived of what a man and woman can give to children in a stable marriage."

A series of investigations into clerical sex abuse have rocked the authority of the church in Ireland, revealing a state-abetted cover-up at Catholic-run institutions that were labeled places of fear and neglect in a 2009 official report

The Catholic Church helped organize some of the largest protests in decades in France last year to oppose legalization of gay marriage.

Ireland recognized the legal rights of same-sex couples for the first time in 2009. The move toward further rights follows a government decision last year to allow limited access to abortion that led to large protests from both sides of the debate.   Continued...