How Could You Possibly Vote No? A Parish Priest Reflects

Having at times been critical of a lack of leadership, I feel it is important to speak on the upcoming referendum. You know me well enough to know I will not be advising you on how to vote. Hopefully you would resist that. I would however, urge you to spend time in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gifts of right judgement and courage. I was tempted to keep quiet. I believe our moral voice, as a Church, was weakened, yes, by the abuse itself, but particularly by the appalling way it was handled. Today as well as the beautiful Church, in which Jesus is visible and active, we still glimpse an abusive Church. This is evident in intemperate language, often mirrored in a lack of compassion. I am amazed at how people have bought the equality argument, seemingly without question. I genuinely wish it were as simple as that. Given my upbringing in Northern Ireland I abhor all forms of discrimination, indeed, from my student days I have been active against it, my only arrest as a result of taking part in anti-apartheid activities. However after prayer and reflection I cannot see how we can reduce this referendum to being simply about equality. It is more complex than that.

I do not trust the government. It has an anti-Church bias and a secular agenda which shows scant regard for faith. I believe we have entered a post-Christian Era during which Ireland will struggle to retain her soul. I am not saying the government is responsible for all this, but it certainly has not helped. At times politicians have indulged in populist Church bashing. Evidence of the loss of Ireland’s soul is found in our drug and alcohol sub-cultures, in the over-sexualisation of young people, in clothes, language and behaviour. There is an erosion of respect for the sacred. We have become strong on rights and weak on responsibility. I am disappointed that, for all our intelligence, we have not had the imagination to come up with a new term honouring the permanency of same-sex unions and at the same time not denying the sacred marriage between a man and a woman.

Indeed, to my mind, it is a complex issue, at the heart of which is a simple truth, namely that two men, or two women cannot have a baby, without recourse to a third party. It is disingenuous to say this is the same as, a man and woman. Plainly it is not. This referendum asks us to broaden and fundamentally change what we mean by marriage. The complementarity of a man and a woman is central to what we mean by marriage. The relationship that exists between man and woman is unique and is uniquely expressed in its fruitfulness. This relationship is different to all others. I would have more respect for the yes campaign if it was more honest about this. The impending change in how we define marriage makes me nervous. I wonder where this is going. I am mainly concerned for children. Not I hasten to add do I wonder whether they will be loved and cherished within a same sex union. I have no doubt well loved. No, what concerns me is the unbridled drive for one’s rights, usually coming without a mention of responsibility. I would like to hear more about the children’s rights, especially with regard to knowing their biological parents and their desire, sometimes their need, to know their genetic background.

I have met gay men and women in the course of my ministry and found them to be the best. Kind,courageous and loving. Often they have been hurt, usually through prejudice, sometimes by Church. I hope I made them welcome and feel respected. The last thing I would want, would be to cause further hurt. Many of them tell me their hopes, and dreams were largely recognised in the civil-partnership legislation. This was an important step forward in Ireland’s growing up. My friends, on the present proposal I believe we need to be very cautious. There is much at stake. However we vote let’s not be unduly influenced by the desire to be popular, the cult of celebrity, or the manipulation of our emotions, especially through guilt.

Fr Joe McDonald, PP, St. Matthew’s, Ballyfermot, May 11th 2015

Day of Creation

The Season of Creation has a special significance for the Catholic Church, particularly since Pope Francis established 1 September as an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The Season of Creation is marked throughout the Christian world from 1 September to 4 October (Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi) and celebrates the joy of creation as well as encouraging…

We welcome all those who join us for Mass

It’s great that more are now able to attend in person.   We are also glad that others join us online. We ask those who attend to please to follow the same procedures as when we were allowed open before, that is, as regards facemasks, social distancing and sanitising hands; entrance is by the front doors and exit by the back doors;…

Parish News 31st July 2022

It is reported in the Irish Catholic this week that the cause for canonisation of 6 Irish priests and 2 others of Irish descent is going to Rome. These are included with 73 others who weremartyred during conflict in Korea between 1950 and 1953. They are very much venerated in Korea now if not well known here in Ireland. It is good…


The necessary restriction of public worship has profoundly affected the two essential Sunday Mass collections on which parish funds depend. The first collection—as you know—supports clergy ministering throughout the diocese as well as sick and retired priests and priests working in other ministries throughout the diocese. The second collection in the red baskets—the ‘Share’ collection—supports diocesan services to parishes especially disadvantaged parishes.…