Archbishop Martin right to raise fears for future freedom of the Church

Press release from The Iona Institute

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is right to raise concerns about the implications for the freedom of the Church if the marriage referendum is carried next Friday.

In his pastoral reflection on the marriage referendum released this weekend, he says:

“Some say that the change will not affect those who do not agree with it and will not affect marriages which take place in Church. No politician can promise that, since it will be exclusively up to the courts to interpret the changed Constitution”.

Commenting on this, David Quinn of The Iona Institute said: “Archbishop Martin has raised a very important point. The Government plans to protect the right of churches not to celebrate same-sex marriages, but this protection will appear only in legislation, not in the Constitution.

“Should the referendum pass, a same-sex couple could demand a right to marry in a church. A court in the future would then have to balance a new constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry against the religious freedom provisions in the Constitution. Who is to say what the court might decide. But if it is decided in favour of the same-sex couple, the legislative protections the Government is planning would mean nothing.”

He continued: “In Denmark we have already seen that the Lutheran Church – a State Church admittedly – has been forced to conduct same-sex weddings. But can forcing all the other Churches to do the same be far behind?”

Quinn concluded: “If the marriage referendum passes we simply cannot rule out something of the same sort happening here. It is another reason to vote No.”