Electorate asked to ‘reflect deeply’ ahead of referendum

Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019 12:22pm

Electorate asked to ‘reflect deeply’ ahead of referendum

A senior Catholic Bishop has urged the electorate to “reflect deeply” on the potential implications before choosing to cast their vote in the forthcoming referendum on divorce.

Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Council for Marriage & Family of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, acknowledged marriages can reach “crisis point” and “sometimes” end in divorce, but it was his belief, that with the necessary supports, it was possible that couples could continue their married life and “even deepen their love” together.

Article 41.3.1 of the Constitution of Ireland proclaims ‘the State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it from attack', Bishop Nulty cited in his statement released last week. “Stable marriages and relationships contribute significantly to a happy and stable society. Following last August’s celebration of the World Meeting of the Families and the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, the Council for Marriage and the Family published A Word of Truth and Hope. In it we recognise, as Pope Francis does, that people are called to live their married lives in the reality of the world with all its opportunities and its challenges. For a wide diversity of reasons, even with the best efforts of the husband and wife, marriage sometimes reaches a crisis point.

A Word of Truth and Hope acknowledges that “there is possibly no greater loneliness than to share a home with a person with whom one can no longer share life or love. Sometimes with great courage and support from those around them, it is possible for a couple to continue their married life and even to deepen their love. Sometimes, however, marriage ends in divorce. Our experience would suggest that many divorced people have no wish to remarry. Many, inspired by faith, seek to remain faithful to the promises which they made before God, while others, eventually, do remarry civilly or enter into new relationships”. Our understanding of the Church as a “loving mother” and the parish as a “family of families” endorses our pastoral approach as Church in accompanying people in the brokenness and pain of their situation.”

Marriage, Bishop Nulty says, is “essential and fundamental” for the good of society worldwide. “It is imperative that we continue to work together to promote marriage and family. The objective of the proposed referendum is not to support marriage, rather to liberalise divorce. For this reason it is important to reflect deeply on the implications of this referendum which seeks to expedite the dissolution of marriage. The common good would be better served by supporting and resourcing couples and families in preparation for, and during marriage.

“We believe that the incidence of marriage breakdown and divorce could be reduced through the introduction of socio-economic policies which support the family and through long-term education strategies which promote values such as fidelity and commitment. While this would cost money, the human and economic cost of breakdown and divorce, both for the couple and for their children, is a far greater cost.”

He concluded by stating that the Government should recommit resources to marriage preparation and invest resources into marriage enrichment, such as the courses run by the Catholic Marriage Care Service (ACCORD). “Both initiatives will sustain marriages into the future and lead to great dividends for wider society.”

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