Same-Sex Marriage. Ethical, Moral and Religious Opt-Outs

Conscientious objection has a long, honourable and courageous history.  A conscientious objector is a person who refuses to wage war against another human being because of some  ethical, moral or religious stance, and such objectors have suffered all manner of pain over the years for their principled stance.

Conscientious objectors are people who refuse to inflict pain or injury on their fellow man or woman, but this principle is not reversible.

It does not follow that anyone is free to inflict pain on their fellow man or woman because of their moral, ethical or religious beliefs.  That sort of thing went out with the Inquisition in the Western world, though sadly we see similar attitudes surviving today in Islamic State, the Taliban and Boko Haram.  And the ludicrous Iona Institute who pervert the concept of conscientious objection to include bigots, shame on them.

Of course, we would never speak today of oppression, and that’s why Archbishop Diarmuid Martin instead chose to talk about a conscience clause to protect Christians’ right to hold religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage.  Such a law would allow business people to refuse to print wedding invitations for same-sex couples, refuse to make a  wedding cake for them and refuse to supply them with flowers or limousines.

This conscience clause would be based on the ultimate escape strategy that same-sex marriage is repugnant to their  religious beliefs.

What an interesting idea.

All you need to do is adhere to a set of unproven, irrational, supernatural beliefs and you automatically have carte blanche to behave in any way you wish towards your fellow citizens, no matter how obnoxious your views might be.

Why would we exempt people from the law of the land simply because they have chosen to adopt a set of unsubstantiated beliefs?  As Professor John Crown pointed out this morning on a radio discussion, there was a time when some American Baptist churches expressed an objection to black people marrying white people on religious  grounds.   If we accept that religious beliefs permit some people to discriminate against their fellow citizens, then how do we decide which religious beliefs are valid and which are not?

If we permit some bigots, like the ridiculous Iona Institute, to discriminate against same-sex couples, then surely we have to let all other bigots do the same, since their objections are all based on the same religious beliefs?

If a baker can refuse to supply a cake to a same-sex couple then he should be equally entitled to refuse an inter-racial couple, or a disabled couple, or whatever kind of couple his batty religion happens to hate.

If a Muslim  printer can refuse a Jew because he thinks Jews are destroying the world, should we respect his religious convictions?

If a Hindu doctor refuses to treat  a lower-caste Indian, should that be permitted?

What is this religious imperative that allows people to be bigoted?

Now, personally, I have to say that I don”t understand why anyone would buy a cake, a wedding invitation or a limo-ride from some drooling homophobe, but that’s not the point.  The point is what we as a society are willing to accept.

We wouldn’t accept bigotry against multi-racial couples, so why would we accept it when it’s directed against people of the same sex, also known as our sons, our daughters, our brothers, our sisters and our friends?

Imagine the outcry if a baker refused to make a cake for people because they were African.

Did that outcry happen when a same-sex couple were refused?

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Catholic Bishops and the New McQuaidism

What’s the New McQuaidism?

Well actually, it’s the old McQuaidism, dressed up in the clothes of tolerance, but it still hides a lead-filled crozier beneath its humble cassock.

Today on RTE, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh gave a bravura performance of New McQuaidism when he came on radio to defend the comments of his colleague, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin.

bishop kevin doran

Kevin, you might recall, stated that  gay people who have children are not necessarily parents, and that the jury is out on whether people are born gay.  It was an unedifying spectacle, to see a 61-year-old celibate virgin pontificating on civil unions between people who have actual real-world experience of raising children, and it ran him into a storm of criticism, including a rebuke from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, whose keenly-attuned political antennae are always twitching, especially when his fellow princes of the church blurt out ill-considered statements without first engaging their brains.  Diarmuid went so far as to avoid expressing confidence in his colleague, so we can only imagine what kind of imbecile he called Doran in private.

Archbishop Eamon Martin (not to be confused with Diarmuid), popped up on radio today and treated us to the entire gamut of episcopal nonsense, including their beloved conditional apology, which normally runs something like I’m sorry if I caused any hurt.  But Eamon added a nice twist to it by creating the Vicarious Episcopal Conditional Apology, since Bishop Kevin himself didn’t have the balls to come forward and defend his position.   If Bishop Doran’s remarks caused offence, I’m sure he didn’t intend it, said Archbishop Eamon, or words to that effect.

It was a nice try by Eamon, close but unfortunately no cigar, since nobody cares what offence Kevin might have given. People were far more worried about the homophobic hatred he might have helped to stir up, resulting in assaults, attacks and physical harm.  What people heard was a cleric demeaning his fellow citizens in a question that doesn’t affect him personally and has nothing to do with his day-job since it isn’t a church matter.  Here he was, avoiding apology by employing the thoroughly-discredited clerical device of the conditional apology, while at the same time apologising for the wrong thing, in order to distract attention from the kernel of the issue, which is equality.

Martin then went on to compound the foolishness of his position by insisting that marriage (even civil marriage, over which he has no authority) must be open to procreation.   Therefore, we must presume that the bishop is opposed to marriage for post-menopausal women or those who have had hysterectomies, and to men who have had vasectomies.

This prelate seems to believe that Canon Law is also the law of the land.  They really must think we’re completely dense, and who could blame them considering the supine response of the RTE interviewer who failed to challenge the bishop’s ludicrous assertions?

Should his opinions on civil marriage equality be respected because they’re based on faith?


They should be respected if they’re based on facts, logic and common sense.   Otherwise, they should be dismissed as the bigoted tosh they are, dressed up in the false clothing of clericalism.  Our laws are not based on faith.  As far as possible, we hope they’d be based on logic, on rational thinking and on justice, not on the irrational religious beliefs of some cleric who has never known marriage or parenthood.

Why didn’t the RTE journalist put it to the bishop that this is a Republic where laws are not based on religion?

Why wasn’t the bishop challenged to explain why his belief in the supernatural makes his views on marriage equality worthy of respect?

I think it’s because he didn’t approach it as John Charles McQuaid would have done, with pomp and arrogance, but instead tried to insinuate his nasty little prejudices into the public space in a fake-humble sub-Daniel O’Donnell monotone, repeating empty platitudes about equality while at the same time working actively to deny his fellow citizens the sort of respect he demands for himself and his fellow celibate virgins.

The bishops seem to want it every way.  They can’t demand a change in civil law, based on their belief in the supernatural, any more than they’d tolerate civil powers interfering in the rites of their church, but that’s the New McQuaidism for you.  The same as the old McQuaidism but without the purple robes.

They haven’t moved on at all since Cardinal Paul Cullen planted his magnificent episcopal foot in Ireland 160 years ago.

Was Bishop Doran right?  Is it possible to have children and yet not necessarily be a parent?  I suppose it is,  in the same way that it’s possible for a man to be a Catholic bishop, but not necessarily a Christian.



Positions held by  Kevin Doran prior to his appointment as bishop.

1977 – 1980, Catechist/Chaplain, Ringsend Technical Institute, Dublin City VEC

1980 – 1983; Diocesan Education Secretariat (Advisor VEC Schools)

1980 – 1990; Occasional Teacher of Midwifery Ethics, Coombe Women’s Hospital

1983 – 1990 Chaplain, University College Dublin,

1990 – 1995 Spiritual Director, Pontifical Irish College, Rome, Irish Episcopal Conference

1995 – 1998 Curate, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock (Dublin)

1995 – 2001 Lecturer (Philosophy & Catholic Social Teaching) Mater Dei Institute of Education

1995 – 2003, Occasional Teacher of Midwifery Ethics, National Maternity Hospital

1996 – 2011 Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Bioethics, (Secretary) Irish Episcopal Conference

1997 – 2012 Member, Ethics Committee Saint Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital

1998 – 2006 Diocesan Director of Vocations

1998 – 2005 Parish Chaplain, Saint Anthony’s, Clontarf

2000 – 2006 National Co-ordinator for Diocesan Vocations , Irish Episcopal Conference

2001 – 2007 Lecturer (Philosophy, & Catholic Social Teaching) Milltown Institute of Theology & Philosophy

2001 – 2013 Member, Board of Governors Mater Misericordiae and Childrens’ University Hospital

2001- 2013 Member, Board of Directors Mater Misericordiae University Hospital

2003 – 2006 Coordinator, European Vocations Service (EVS) Elected (approved CCEE)

2005 – 2013 Consultor, Congregation for Catholic Education

2005 – 2009 Parish Priest (Saint Kevin’s, Glendalough)

2009 – 2012 Parish Chaplain (Saint Vincent de Paul, Marino)

2008 – 2012 Secretary General, 50th International. Eucharistic Congress

2008, Diocesan Director for the Permanent Diaconate

2013, Administrator, Sacred Heart Parish, Donnybrook;
Midwifery ethics.  Let’s just ponder that for a moment.