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Catholic leaders are out in force arguing against same-sex marriage

One bishop believes schoolbooks that view marriage as solely between a man and a woman could face legal challenges if the vote is passed.

Updated 7.11pm

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S campaign of opposition to same-sex marriage stepped up a gear today with several church leaders arguing for a No vote.

Speaking at masses this weekend, the Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said the Catholic Church ‘isn’t being mean-spirited towards those who have same-sex attractions’ in its opposition to same-sex marriage.

“The Church’s position on this is entirely positive: it is against the proposal to redefine marriage.  We are not taking a conservative viewpoint or wilfully inhibiting genuine progress,” he told parishioners.

05/06/2014 Most. Rev. Martin Neary, Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary Photocall Ireland Photocall Ireland

Neary said the vote is not just on marriage, but is also about redefining the family.

“One of the most important and fundamental questions that each of us has to consider is the rights of the child,” he said.

“We should be aware of what is at stake here.”

The family is the seedbed of the future, the best way we have yet found of fostering security and trust.

“We should be aware of what is at stake here.  We are in fact redefining the family. Throughout history and across all cultures, marriage has been consistently understood to be the union of male and female with procreative potential. ”

A society that identifies the two parties in marriage as spouse I and spouse II has lost sight of a deep truth of human nature.

Other arguments against redefining marriage put forward by the Archbishop include arguing that it is not a human right, and civil partnerships already provide protection to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, Bishop of Limerick Brennan Leahy suggested that legal challenges could arise over school books that do not support same-sex marriage, if the referendum is passed.

“What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage?”, Leahy said in a letter read out to masses today.

Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience?

The bishop called for the State “to find a way to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the meaning of marriage that is as old as the hills.”

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week programme, Noel Whelan of the Yes Equality campaign dismissed Leahy’s schoolbooks argument.

He said the same point had been made prior to the divorce referendum, but that schools have been able to continue teaching in line with the religious position of schools.

The Education Minister previously stressed that there is “no prospect” funding will be cut for schools who do not support same-sex marriage.

Catholic Church Masses Sam Boal Sam Boal

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who has already stated publicly that he intends to vote No in the referendum, said he doesn’t believe civil partnerships go far enough, but he is opposed to gay marriage.

“It could be tweaked,” he told This Week.

“It’s not just a political issue, it’s not just about the individual, it’s about something very important for social cohesion,” Martin said.

He said another formula is needed to ensure “the desires of gay and lesbian people to have their love fully recognised in an equal but different manner” are fulfilled, but he doesn’t have the answer to that just yet.

Other priests who spoke out today included Bishop Phonsie Cullinan who said “common sense alone tells us that every child should have its ‘mammy and daddy’”, Bishop Leo O’Reilly who said “the referendum on same-sex marriage would put the wishes of adults ahead of the rights of children” but stressed he did not want to offend anyone, and Bishop John Kirby, who stressed that he did not want to force anyone to vote in a particular way, but wanted to ensure that the decision was ‘reflected on’.

While the Catholic Church was out in force today, another was taking a more reserved view.

The Church of Ireland, which isn’t taking a position on the referendum, held its synod this weekend in Armagh, at which there was ‘huge interest’ in a stall calling for a Yes vote.

Canon Charles Kenny of the Church of Ireland group Changing Attitude Ireland said there was ‘a courteous public discussion’ held at the synod on sexuality.

“As society changes to embrace equality and sets an example of love and compassion towards gay people, I hope that the churches can learn from this,” he said

I am particularly encouraged this year at the General Synod by the number of delegates who have approached our display stand to share with us they have family members who are gay. There was a strong demand at our stand for the leaflets of Gay Byrne endorsing same sex civil marriage and we have run out of Yes Equality badges.

An estimated crowd of nearly 5,000 peopl Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Meanwhile in Dublin, thousands took to the streets for a Yes Equality event.

The event, organised by LGBT Noise, took place around Merrion Square.

Pictured is Mundy entertaining an estima Mundy entertaining the crowd. Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Even Bosco turned up:

Originally 2.26pm

Read: Ireland’s Equality Minister was asked by RTÉ to remove a Yes Equality pin >

More: Irish abroad are calling for you to use your vote at home >

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