The two leading bishops of Ireland have refused to support the recent statements by another Irish bishop in which he said that gay people are not parents and that homosexuality was comparable to Down’s Syndrome and spina bifida.
The Irish Times reported that Armagh’s Archbishop Eamon Martin and Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin held a press conference during the national bishops’ meeting to correct the statements by Bishop Kevin Doran, of Elphin, which he made during a recent radio interview focusing on the Irish hierarchy’s opposition to the upcoming national referendum on marriage equality. [For a transcript of selected portions of the interview, click here.]
Both Eamon Martin and Diarmuid Martin are, respectively, president and vice president of Ireland’s national conference of bishops. The Dublin archbishop made headlines last year when he said:
“God never created anybody that he doesn’t love.…
“Anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that – they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people.”
“Asked whether Bishop Doran had his confidence following a Newstalk interview he gave on Monday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin replied: ‘I won’t go into that.’
“He continued ‘I believe certain types of language are inappropriate.’
“He described as ‘an unfortunate phrase,’ a comment by Bishop Doran in the interview that ‘people who have children are not necessarily parents.’
“The Archbishop continued: ‘I hope that people were not offended by it. We have used the term parenthood…we talk about adoptive parents, we talk about lone parents. There are very many, many definitions. I think that we should look on that variety of situations in a way that is more positive. We shouldn’t use phrases that may offend people.’ . . .
“Archbishop Eamon Martin said ‘I believe there are many different kinds of parenthood and indeed there are many gay people who are parents.’ ”
Archbishop Eamon Martin also commented on another important error in Bishop Doran’s interview:
“On Bishop Doran’s claim that ‘the jury is out’ on whether people were born gay or became gay Archbishop Eamon Martin said ‘I believe people are born the way they are born and I believe that God creates us as we are.’ “
While Bondings 2.0 reported on Doran’s comments on Down’s Syndrome and spina bifida, we were not, at the time, aware of his comments on parenting. What follows is the transcript of that portion of the interview with host Chris Donoghue:
Doran: “Yeah, but you obviously haven’t heard what I’m saying. There’s an essential relationship between marriage and the giving of life to, and caring for, children.”
O’Donoghue: “What I’m saying is…”
Doran: “Ad so when you change the meaning of marriage, you change the relationships of parents because if children are now, to have say, two parents who are of the same sex, that…”
O’Donoghue: “But children do, Bishop. As in lesbian people, lesbians, gay men they are already parents..”
Doran: “They’re not parents. You see the point about it is…”
O’Donoghue: “But they are, all over Ireland. They have children.”
Doran: “They may have children but that’s the difference, you see that’s the point, people who have children are not necessarily parents. ‘
Both archbishops did not back down on their opposition to marriage equality becoming the law of the land in Ireland. They restated their arguments, including noting that Pope Francis is opposed to marriage equality laws.
Significant still, however, is that these two leaders would make such a public denouncement of one of their brother bishops. In fact, they noted that Doran does not speak for the conference:
“When it was put to him that Bishop Doran had been fronting the Catholic bishops stance on the marriage equality referendum, the Archbishop of Dublin said the position was being fronted ‘by the President and Vice President of the Conference. That is why we are here today.’
Archbishop Eamon Martin said that Doran apologized for any hurt that his words had caused.
In a separate incident earlier this month, Doran made headlines by stating that gay people could already legally marry–jut not each other. Thes public relations fiascos are a lesson in how bishops need further education on LGBT issues, and this could best be accomplished by greater dialogue with LGBT people. Let’s hope that Bishop Doran, who will likely not be speaking further on the marriage referendum, will use his time to educate himself by open and honest conversations with Catholic LGBT people in his diocese.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry