Mere Anglicanism

Irish Anglican woman bishop votes “no” on gay marriage

The Rt. Rev Patricia Storey has written a pastoral letter to her clergy in the United Diocese of Meath and Kildare, saying she will vote “no” in the Republic of Ireland’s referendum on gay marriage as it would harm children and the family.

The Church of Ireland’s sole woman bishop, the Rt. Rev Patricia Storey, has written a pastoral letter to her clergy in the United Diocese of Meath and Kildare, saying she will vote “no” in the Republic of Ireland’s referendum on gay marriage as it would harm children and the family.

On 22 May 2015 Ireland will go to the polls to vote on a constitutional amendment put forward by the Fine Gael-Labour government that would mandate the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. The Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland have urged the defeat of the bill, as has the Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

The Church of Ireland Gazette reports the Rt. Rev. Ferran Glenfield added to his signature to a declaration by Protestant leaders opposing an amendment to the Republic of Ireland’s constitution stating: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

In a statement released last month, the Church of Ireland stated that it’s official position on the referendum is that it “does not direct members on how to vote. The Church encourages people to vote according to their conscience”.

However two Church of Ireland bishops have said they will vote “yes”. The Bishop of Cork, the Rt. Rev. Paul Colton told the BBC last year he supported the introduction of gay marriage, while the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows last month told a conference at Trinity College, Dublin that gay rights was the “great justice issue of our time just as the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women were in the past.”

He asserted the “call for same sex marriage is a logical and timely development in the march of law reform and equality” and was “convinced that it will be a contribution to a fairer and more truly equal Ireland, and I cannot see any way in which it could be considered repugnant to the common good, or indeed to the vital role of the family.”

Two retired Archbishops of Dublin have also said they will vote “yes” on May 22nd. The Most Rev. Walton Empey, archbishop of Dublin from 1996 to 2002, said: “I certainly have no hesitation in calling for a Yes vote.”

The Most Rev. John Neill, the archbishop of Dublin from 2002 to 2011, told The Irish Times “the understanding of marriage in the church has evolved, putting partnership first before procreation”, in which context “there is less of a problem about same-sex marriage”. A Yes result would not affect the church’s teaching on marriage and it could continue “to order [its] own affairs,” he said. But he hoped church thinking would evolve “to take account of this distinction.”

He further stated “we now recognise that there are many different types of unions and I don’t see why they cannot have the protection and status of marriage”. He was also “quite happy this wouldn’t affect the status of children.”

However in her pastoral letter, Bishop Storey said it was out of concern for children and the family that she was voting “no”.

“I believe that civil partnerships give gay people clear civil rights and recognition as people committed to one another, and I fully endorse this. However, I do not think that this requires the redefinition of marriage to uphold it, and I do not believe that marriage should be redefined,” she wrote.

Same-sex marriage would harm children and society, she argued. “You cannot redefine marriage without including information and reference to children, family life and the good of society. It is my view that, where possible, children benefit most from both genders parenting them. That is not to say that single parents who find themselves alone do not do an immensely great job in raising their children. Yet I believe that it is God’s intention that, wherever feasible, children should have a mother and father.”

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