The government must not deprive Catholic schools of the right to the Church's message about marriage, Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, has warned.
According to the Irish Catholic, Bishop Treanor warned that based on experience in other jurisdictions, this freedom is very often denied to Churches once same-sex marriage legislation is introduced.
In a pastoral reflection distributed throughout parishes ahead of this week’s elections, Bishop Treanor reminded voters that the position of a particular candidate on this issue was an important consideration for all citizens, and not just a religious issue.
“It is about upholding marriage between a woman and man as the fundamental unit of society, open to the possibility of children, an institution written into the very grammar of nature itself,” he said.
It is also important for politicians to recognise that this issue is not only about ensuring Churches and faith communities are not obliged to officiate at same-sex marriages, he commented.
“Respect for religious freedom also includes the right of Churches to teach on this issue in a respectful and sensitive way, to have the ethos of faith-based institutions in employment and other areas protected and of Churches to continue to provide services in preparation for and on-going support of marriage and the family, in a manner which is consistent with their ethos.”
He called on Catholics to vote with their conscience in the upcoming local and European elections.
“This is an important opportunity for each of us as Christians and as citizens to influence the values that will shape future public policy at both local and European level,” Bishop Treanor said.