Irish priest reminds Justice Minister of Catholic teaching on marriage

ppahern160709 Justice Minister Dermot Ahern

An Irish priest has defended one of his homilies against criticism from Ireland’s justice minister, reiterating that legislation to promote civil partnerships is immoral and undermines marriage.

Fr. John Hogan, a priest in the eastern port town of Drogheda, in his homily last Sunday criticized civil partnership legislation.

“Catholic members of the Oireachtas (national parliament) cannot support it while remaining in good standing with the Church,” he preached, according to the Irish Times.

He also quoted from a 2003 Vatican document on such legislation which said voting for such a law “so harmful to the common good” is “immoral.” The document was promulgated by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

A delegate to the lower assembly of the Oireachtas was in the congregation.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, whose constituency includes Drogheda, reacted to the homily on the radio station LMFM.

“I am a republican. My party is a republican party. As always from the foundation of the State, there has been a very definite line between issues of Church and State and that is exactly my position.”

“When I legislate, particular as a Government Minister, I don’t bring whatever religion I have to the table,” he said.

Fr. Hogan defended his homily, saying that as a Catholic priest he is “bound to Christ’s church’s teaching on this issue.”

“I have a duty to remind the faithful of this teaching.”

In November 2008, Cardinal Seán Brady reacted to a bill aimed at giving legal recognition to civil partnerships by saying that marriage must be specially protected in the Irish Constitution.

“Those who are committed to the probity of the Constitution, to the moral integrity of the Word of God and to the precious human value of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of society may have to pursue all avenues of legal and democratic challenge to the published legislation,” he remarked.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin supported the cardinal's reaction to the bill, but his remarks were construed by the press as being in favor of the legislation.

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