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Archbishops Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Eamon Martin of Armagh

June 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Ireland’s leading archbishop and president of its episcopal conference rejected Cardinal Raymond Burke’s words condemning Ireland’s recent referendum in favor of homosexual “marriage,” in an interview with RTE Radio on Tuesday.

Asked about “Raymond Burke, who was reported as saying that Ireland has gone further than paganism and defied God by legalizing gay marriage,” Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh responded: “I wouldn’t use that language and I think that throughout the debate and the discussion we did indeed ask people to try to be respectful and inoffensive in language, and sometimes we can be offensive even when we don’t mean to be.”

Martin, who holds the title Primate of All Ireland, was responding to Cardinal Burke’s statement in a May 27 speech to Oxford University’s Newman Society, in which he said of the referendum: “I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviors, [but] they never dared to say this was marriage.”

Asked if priests should be able to bless a “family” made up of two homosexual men and their adopted child, Martin responded: “I think that if we’re suggesting that this is the same as marriage, I think no, but I do think that it is important to let these people say, ‘Look, you’re part of your church, come along to your church, you’re part of the Church, and you’re welcome in the Church. I think that’s the most important statement that we can make.’”

Although Martin opposed the homosexual “marriage” measure, he has rarely spoken critically of homosexual behavior, and has even spoken positively about gay unions, calling them “loving relationships.”

In his official statement on the referendum issued May 2 and entitled “Care for the Covenant of Marriage,” the archbishop nowhere condemned homosexual acts, but wrote that “during the current debate we are conscious of same-sex partners who love each other and wish to share their life together,” adding, “‘Marriage’ is about much more than a loving relationship between consenting adults.” Martin has also consistently portrayed gays as victims of prejudice and mistreatment, expressing concern about the possibility of “offending” them by a negative vote in the referendum.

In the same statement, the archbishop did warn that creating same-sex “marriage” would threaten religious freedom. “If society adopts and imposes a ‘new orthodoxy’ of ‘gender-neutral’ marriage, … then it will become increasingly difficult to speak or teach in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman,” he wrote.

Ambivalence and ambiguity from Ireland’s Catholic hierarchy

Other Irish bishops have been even more equivocal in their response to the May 22 vote, which approved the creation of homosexual “marriage” with a 62 percent majority.

In an address to All Hallows College a few weeks before the vote, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin seemed to endorse homosexual unions, claiming that “a pluralist society can be creative in finding ways in which people of same-sex orientation have their rights and their loving and caring relationships recognized and cherished in a culture of difference, while respecting the uniqueness of the male-female relationship,” and adding that “I know that the harshness with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past – and in some cases still today – may make it hard for LGBT people to accept that I am sincere in what I am proposing,” according to Ireland’s Independent newspaper.

The Dublin archbishop’s spokeswoman told the media that the prelate would be voting no. “It is not his policy, however, to tell others how to vote except to stress that, given the importance of marriage and the family, decisions should not be taken lightly and that people should be informed of what is involved, she added.

Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, rejected the notion that people couldn’t vote “yes” in good conscience, and implied that some who voted “no” might be doing so because they want to “bully” homosexuals.

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“People have to make their own mature decision, be it yes or be it no. I would hate for people to be voting no for bad reasons, for bigoted reasons, for nasty reasons, for bullying reasons. People have to make up their own minds and I’m quite happy that people can do that in front of God, be it yes or be it no,” Bishop McKeown said during a debate over the measure on the Shaun Doherty Show. “I don’t doubt that there are many people who are practicing churchgoers of whatever church background who will in conscience vote Yes, and that’s entirely up them. I’m not going to say they’re wrong.”

The leadership of Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), which claims a third of the priests of Ireland as members, expressed support for a “yes” vote with apparently total impunity. One priest, the Rev. Martin Dolan, announced his support for homosexual “marriage” and added, “I’m gay myself.” He received a standing ovation from his Dublin parishioners, according to the Washington Post.

Throughout the debate bishops and priests refrained from virtually any mention of the Catholic Church’s perennial teaching condemning homosexual behavior as gravely sinful and “intrinsically disordered,” in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The ambivalence of the Irish Catholic hierarchy’s reaction to the referendum led the British homosexual and atheist columnist Matthew Parris to express disgust at the vacillation and inconsistency of clergymen in the face of the gay agenda, in a recent blog post for the Spectator.

“Even as a (gay) atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change?” he asked.


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