By Jonquil Frankham

CO. CLARE, Ireland, November 6, 2008 ( – Primate of Ireland Sean Cardinal Brady addressed the Ceifin Conference on November 4, warning against giving legal recognition to same-sex “marriages” as well as to co-habitating couples.

The Ceifin Conference is an annual discussion forum for the debate of social change issues. This year’s topic was “Family Life Today – the Greatest Revolution?”

The Primate’s remarks brought down a shower of criticism from pro-homosexual legislators, and as the Catholic Culture database writes, “prompted Senator David Norris to suggest that Brady was ‘arrogant, threatening, and legalistic.’” Senator Norris also said “the remarks further alienate young people from the church.”

The MarriagEquality group of Ireland also criticized the Cardinal’s comments; its co-coordinator, Moninne Griffith, said he was “out of touch with modern Ireland.”

The Cardinal’s speech centered on the idea that marriage is the most fundamental unit of society. “Marriage, the family and the general good of society are so interdependent that one cannot flourish without the other,” he said.

Telling his audience that he was aware of the “considerable public debate” surrounding issues of marriage and family, he said, “When people become less concerned with what God has to say generally, or when the popularity of an idea replaces objective human values as the basis of morality, commitment to marriage as the basis of the family also diminishes.”

The bishop suggested that the solution to an increasing disillusionment with family life in Ireland is “faith and prayer,” and “making people more familiar with the Word of God, in an informed and formative way.”

Cardinal Brady told his audience, “The family is … the natural community in which human social nature is experienced. It makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the good of society. The family unit is born from the stable and committed communion of persons which marriage provides.

“‘Communion’ has to do with the personal relationship between the ‘I’ and the ‘thou’. ‘Community’ on the other hand transcends the ‘I’ and ‘thou’ and moves towards a ‘society’, a ‘we’. The family, therefore, as a community of persons, is the first human ‘society’. It is at the very heart of the common good.”

The Primate cautioned his listeners against proposed legislation that would grant same-sex and co-habitating couples the same legal status as married heterosexual couples, in all but the name “marriage.” He said that while it is important to legislate for the “protection for people in relationships of long term dependency,” legislators must take care lest their “policy begins to undermine the family based on marriage as the fundamental unit of society and thereby undermine the common good.”

“The intention is not to penalise those who have chosen or find themselves in different family forms or relationships,” the Cardinal said. “It is rather to uphold the principle that the family based on marriage between a man and woman is so intimately connected to the good of society that it is deserving of special care and protection.”

“The link between a public commitment to life-long marriage, and the stability of the family unit, as well as the distinct role of a mother and father in the generation and education of children, gives marriage a unique and qualitatively different relationship to society than any other form of relationship,” Cardinal Brady told his audience, arguing that the issue of same-sex or co-habitating couples gaining marital legal status is not an issue of social “equality.”

Towards the end of his speech he opined: “All the more remarkable then that Ireland looks set to repeat the mistakes of societies like Britain and the US by introducing legislation which will promote cohabitation, remove most incentives to marry and grant same-sex couples the same rights as marriage in all but adoption.

“This will effectively dissolve the special status of marriage between a man and woman enshrined in the Constitution. This would indeed be a revolution, perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of the Irish family – as the title of the Conference suggests! But will it be a revolution which promotes the common good of our society? Will it really help children and married couples or will it further erode marriage at a time when research and experience point to the value of marriage for children and society?”


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