DUBLIN, November 25, 2004 ( – In comments, reported in the Irish Independent on the 16th of November, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin stated “I recognise that there are many different kinds of caring relationships and these often create dependencies for those involved. The State may feel in justice that the rights of people in these relationships need to be protected.” He further commented “I have a wide range of relationships in mind.  I do not exclude gay relationships but my main concern is with all caring relationships where dependencies have come into being.”

Those comments were widely interpreted as suggesting a position in favour of some spousal rights for homosexual couples, since they were reported in the context of a court case launched by a homosexual activist lesbian couple who were ‘married’ in Canada seeking to have their spousal rights recognized in Ireland.  However, the Communications office for the archdiocese says in a release today that, “The thrust of Archbishop Martin’s comments, in response to a specific question from an Irish Independent reporter, was to indicate his firm view that the most appropriate way to address questions of inheritance and property entitlements of gay men and women was to consider them from a perspective altogether different from that of marriage and the family, namely in the context of various other non-marital caring relationships where dependencies emerge.”  The release added that “Nothing in Archbishop Martin’s actual comments supports the claims that he was advocating ‘spousal rights’ for gay persons, much less marriage or civil unions.”

As evidence of the Archbishop’s stand, the release notes that “Archbishop Martin has frequently repeated in his homilies in Dublin parishes, including twice over the current weekend, his emphasis on the uniqueness of marriage.”  In his homily the Archbishop said: “The family, based on the mutual and exclusive love of husband and wife, constitutes a value which is unique and irreplaceable for the community.  The State and society have obligations to protect the family and to ensure that families have the necessary support to carry out their role”.  A statement more directly related to homosexual civil unions is expected before the end of January from the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference in a submission to the Irish Parliament which is considering such matters.  jhw