(Vatican Radio) On Friday Ireland votes in a referendum on same sex marriage - making it the first country in the world to hold a nationwide ballot on the issue. Voters will be asked whether the Constitution should be changed so as to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.
If the referendum is passed, a marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same status under the Constitution as a marriage between a man and a woman.
Ireland would also become the first country in the world to approve a national referendum expressly guaranteeing same-sex marriage in its Constitution.
Backing a ‘No’ vote, the Bishops of Ireland are encouraging Irish voters to reflect carefully on the implications which the constitutional amendment on marriage would have on the family.
Each Bishop has also written his own pastoral letter on the issue.
Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with the Archbishop of Dublin in Ireland, Diarmuid Martin
Last Sunday the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin in his pastoral letter to parishioners in his Archdiocese wrote, there is “a unique complementarity between men and women, male and female, rooted in the very nature of our humanity. I believe that this complementarity belongs to the fundamental definition of marriage.”
On the eve of this referendum the Archbishop spoke to Lydia O’Kane saying, “marriage has its place in the construction of society and changing the definition would have long term consequences. Children have a right, where it’s possible to a mother and a father. A change in the Irish constitution would make that affirmation very very hard to sustain in reality.”
He also stressed that he believes, “it would be possible to respond to the needs of and the relationships of homosexual people with another form of legislation which would not change the definition of marriage.”
As Ireland approaches this ballot, Archbishop Martin encouraged people to pray and reflect very carefully.