Referendum Result – Bishop Kevin’s Pastoral Message to the People of the Diocese of Elphin

The outcome of the Marriage Referendum is clear and decisive. While I am personally disappointed by the result, I very much welcome the fact that so many people voted.

It seems that many people voted YES as a way of showing their acceptance and their love for friends and family members who are gay. Large numbers obviously believed that they could vote YES without in any way undermining marriage. While I do not share their belief, I understand their reason for celebrating and I do respect their spirit of solidarity. It would be wonderful if this same spirit of solidarity could now be harnessed across our whole society for the continued betterment of all who experience themselves as marginalized or in need, including the homeless and those seeking asylum.

I want to acknowledge the generosity of so many people who worked so hard to ensure that the minority point of view was heard. They have every reason to be proud of what they achieved with such limited resources. Almost 50% of those who voted in Sligo and Roscommon, which includes most of the Diocese of Elphin, voted against the proposal to change the constitution. This means that a great number of people in our diocese will be disappointed today. I don’t believe for a moment that they are any less accepting of their gay relatives, neighbours and friends.

This is not a moment for outlining policy or strategy for the future. It is a time for prayerful reflection. Whether the result was a YES or a NO there were always going to be important lessons to be learnt from all that has happened since this debate began. I hope we can work together on this in the diocese over the coming months. In the meantime, as I said in my pastoral statement last weekend, quoting St. Paul, we must seek “to preserve the unity of the Spirit” since we are “all called into one and the same hope”.