Why would same-sex marriage, but not divorce, cause the Catholic Church to withdraw from state weddings?

by Michael Nugent on April 13, 2015

Atheist Ireland welcomes the threat by the Irish Catholic Bishops that the church may no longer perform the civil aspects of weddings, if marriage is extended to same-sex couples.

We believe a formal separation of the religious elements of a church marriage, and the civil elements of a state marriage, would be a good thing for Irish society.

However, why does it take the possibility of same-sex marriage to cause the Catholic Church to make the threat that “If there were two totally different definitions of marriage the Church could no longer carry out the civil element”?

Based on its own argument, the Catholic Church should already have stopped performing the civil aspects of weddings after the divorce referendum, which has already changed the definition of state marriage to make it fundamentally different from that of church marriage.

There must be something about same-sex marriage that particularly threatens the Catholic Church, and it cannot be the inability of gay couples to have children, as the Church happily marries infertile heterosexual couples. So what can it be? We hope they can clarify this.

Here’s the background, from the Irish Times:

The Catholic Church first made this threat in its submission to the Constitutional Convention in 2013. Martin Long, director of the Catholic Communications Office said then:

“At the moment on behalf of the State, the priest acts as the solemniser of the marriage between a woman and a man. Obviously if the definition of marriage changes then this role will change.”

Last night Mr Long confirmed to the Irish Times that this is still the position of the Bishops, stating:

“This was the last public authoritative intervention. Nothing has changed since then.”

In that submission, the Bishops said:

“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.”

And that submission defined marriage as:

“Marriage is a unique union, a relationship different from all others. In marriage, a woman and man promise love and fidelity to each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health as long as they both shall live.”

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nathan (formerly GerardO) April 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Marriage is a legal contract, not an expression of love. Maybe we would be better off without it.

2 milesnagopaleen April 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Possibly because divorce is already available in the Caholic Church. I know a woman who was married for over 20 years and had five kids and managed to get an annulment on the grounds of mental cruelty. You have to jump through some hoops, no doubt, and it takes some time but you can get a divorce. They keep quiet about it.

3 Skep tickle April 14, 2015 at 6:06 am

What excellent questions posed in the title & post! Inquiring minds want to know…and are interested to see whether the threat is kept.

4 dougal445 April 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

I advocate for complete separation of state and any religious ‘marriage’.
Wherein a religious marriage is meaningless to the state, a state marriage amounts to a legal contract that may be entered into with one other person at a time.
Religions free to discriminate, who cares? Religious polygamous marriages fine, it amounts to nothing outside the religion.
Religions can hold on to their stupid bigoted doctrines. All equally treated under the law.

5 Emmanuel April 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

‘Why would same-sex marriage, but not divorce, cause the Catholic Church to withdraw from state weddings?’

Simple! divorce is not intrinsically evil where in same sex so called marriage, where two person of the same sex commit intrinsically evil acts by way of sodomy.

‘civil aspects of weddings’ that is carried out in a church building is just the signing of the papers by the part involved and witnesses. The Church will still marry the man and the woman.

This is a not a big news story just another way for Michael and friends to attack the Catholic Church with their bigotry and Catholic-phobia.

What is really at stake is and what the bishops are concerned that the State may force those solemnisers against the conscience. But we all know where this is heading the lost of religious freedom.

6 citizen_wolf April 14, 2015 at 2:10 pm

@Emmanuel
Sex between two consenting adults in a loving relationship is intrinsically evil?

Holy heck, what a warped view of human relationships.

7 Emmanuel April 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm

@Citizen_wolf
I said sodomy is evil within itself. You warped my words.

8 Ashling O'Brien April 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm

@ Emmanuel

Sodomy is anal or oral sex between two people. So opposite sex couples engage in sodomy. Is this also evil?

9 Emmanuel April 14, 2015 at 6:08 pm

@ Ashling O’Brien

Yes it can be.

10 Citizen Wolf April 14, 2015 at 7:07 pm

@Emmanuel
I didn’t warp your words. Sodomy is anal sex.

Let me rephrase – you think that (anal) sex between two consenting adults in a loving relationship is intrinsically evil.

I’m still amazed at your view.

Whilst on the topic, could you tell me what exactly your definition of evil is? Is it wrapped up with the idea of the supernatural or can it be manifested in a non-supernaturalistic way? So, for example, is evil to do with going against god’s commandments, or can we remove (for the sake of argument) the idea of a god and still see evil remain?

11 Emmanuel April 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

To Citizen Wolf,
Why would you be amazed at my view. I wont define evil here on this blog, it would be too long. But I do love it when atheist/agnostic bring God into it!

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