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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 17°C
There were concerns that the future of civil marriages in Catholic Churches was under threat.
# i do (not know)
Has the Catholic Church backtracked on its concerns over their role in weddings?
Read and decide for yourself.

OVER TWO YEARS ago, when the Constitutional Convention was debating same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church sounded a warning.

They seemed to suggest that priests may no longer be able to carry out the civil part of a wedding if same-sex marriage became a reality.

Currently, men and women who get married in a Catholic church also complete the civil part of the ceremony by signing the Marriage Registration form. This must also be overseen and signed by a solemniser of marriages.

The vast majority of solemnisers are Roman Catholic priests and, in a submission to the Constitutional Convention, the church warned that priests may be prevented from carrying out that role if the church and State’s definitions of marriage were different.

The submission says that the Catholic Church does not recognise “any other partnerships or legal unions as having an ethical or legal equivalence with marriage”, which the Church defines as being between a man and a woman.

This is what the the Irish Episcopal Conference, the group made up of the country’s Catholic bishops, said at the time:

“Any change to the definition of marriage would create great difficulties and in the light of this, if there were two totally different definitions of marriage, the Church could no longer carry out the civil element.”

pastedimage-65887-466x500 / NickyRyan Roman Catholic solemnisers make up 78% of those registered. / NickyRyan / NickyRyan

This warning was repeated again during the referendum campaign as concerns began to mount that Catholics marrying in churches may be forced to have a second civil ceremony.

The Catholic Communications Office repeated the above quote and added the following:

It is important to note that in Ireland the Church and State co-operate closely in the solemnisation of marriages and that in excess of 70% of marriages in the Republic of Ireland are celebrated by couples choosing the Christian celebration of marriage with both elements taking place within the same ceremony.

After the referendum, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland Eamon Martin was asked again about the church’s position. He said they hadn’t seen the legislation yet and needed to “look at all of these issues in due course”.

We were given a lot of assurances during the debate and during the Yes campaign that there would be no threat to the church’s celebration of marriage so we’ll have to wait and see.

Shutterstock-208557535 Shutterstock The church's language seems to have changed over the past two years. Shutterstock

Yesterday, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference concluded a three-day Summer meeting in which they discussed a rang of matters. Again, marriage was on the agenda.

A statement following the meeting said that bishops appreciated the “commitment and courage” of those who campaigned for a No vote.

“We will continue to reflect on the implications of the referendum in the Bishops’ Conference and its five commissions,” the statement added.

The issue of soleminsing weddings directly came up when it was put to Bishop Eamon Martin by journalists. He seemed to suggest that it was now up to the State to decide if it wants priests to be involved.

He said the question is:

‘Does the State wish the church to continue in that role and will it be constitutional for priests to do so?’

We must wait and see.

Read: Couples may yet be barred from signing their marriage licences in church >

Read: Referendum threat could mean 4,000 fewer priests to sign off on marriages >

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