People should not be scared to speak up for traditional marriage, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has said ahead of a referendum on same-sex marriage later this month.
In a statement, Archbishop Eamon Martin warned that removing the unique nature of marriage as a union between a man and a woman would be “a very definite break with human history and with the natural institution of marriage”.
“We end up using the term ‘marriage’ for something that it is not”, he said.
“It is a fact of nature that same-sex unions are fundamentally and objectively different from the complementary sexual union of a woman and a man which is, of itself, naturally open to life”, he added.
The referendum on redefining marriage in Ireland takes place on 22 May.
Archbishop Martin highlighted that up until now, Ireland has “accepted that it is in the best interests of children and of society to promote and protect the model of children being born and raised in a family with their biological parents”.
He also asked: “Will there be lawsuits against individuals and groups who do not share this vision? What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage or about homosexual acts? Will those who continue to sincerely believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their faith and conscience?”
Unique and privileged
“The proposed amendment to the Constitution will remove the unique and privileged status in society for the marriage between a man and a woman”, he explained.
He urged voters not to be “afraid to speak up courageously for the union of a man and a woman in marriage”.
Opposition to same-sex marriage has also been expressed in the Church of Ireland.
Dozens of figures wrote joint open letters criticising the pro-gay marriage stance of the Church of Ireland bishops of Cork and Cashel.
One letter to the Church of Ireland Gazette said the bishops were “teaching error”, while another letter said that the Church’s position of marriage being between one man and one woman is not “open to interpretation”.