Bishop Doran on Divorce Referendum
Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin has released a pastoral letter in advance of Friday’s divorce referendum. Insisting that Christians must take an active interest in anything which contributes to or undermines the common good, they have a responsibility to engage in the political process, Bishop Doran said this is so “even though politics is often frustrating and sometimes very disappointing”.
Urging people to vote in both the European and local elections, Bishop Doran suggested that voters “do all that you can to establish what the candidates actually stand for.”
“If candidates belong to political parties, then a vote for the candidate is usually a vote for the policy of the party. Past experience should have taught us by now that what candidates say before an election may not always be the same as what they do once they have been elected. It is not enough to read the slogans. Neither does it make sense simply to vote for the same party that your parents and grandparents voted for.”
Voters should consider, the bishop wrote, where candidates stand (and what the track record of their party is) on issues including the right to life from conception to natural death; care for the sick and the elderly; the education of children, with due regard for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being; support for the integrity of the family, and the right to work or to participate in a meaningful way in the life of society, not only for citizens, but for all who are willing to commit to the common good of our society, including those seeking asylum.
“Since these are core Christian values, it does not make any sense for Christians to vote for candidates or parties whose policies are at odds with those values.”
With regard to the referendum on divorce, which takes place the same day as the elections, Bishop Doran advised that “Catholic voters, like everyone else, must now consider whether the proposed Constitutional change might have the effect of further weakening the social commitment to marriage.” If passed, the referendum would remove the Constitutional requirement for a four-year waiting time between the separation of a married couple and their eligibility for civil divorce.
“The important parallel question that we need to ask is whether society is living up to its responsibility to prioritise the family and to provide the human supports that might help couples to resolve difficulties that arise in their relationship, before their differences become irreconcilable.”
Catholic Bishops. May 21.