The Government should spend funds supporting marriage instead of changing divorce law, Ireland’s Catholic Church leaders said on Saturday..
The country must work together to promote marriage and family, leading Church member Bishop Denis Nulty said.
This Friday, May 24, the country will go to the polls to vote in a divorce referendum.
Currently under the Constitution, a person must be separated for four of the previous five years in order to apply for a divorce.
A Yes vote on Friday would mean that the Oireachtas would be able to bring in legislation that would determine the time a couple needs to be apart before they can get divorced.
The Government has indicated it would shorten the period to two years.
A yes vote would also allow the Oireachtas to legislate for the recognition of foreign divorces.
But stable marriages and relationships contribute “significantly” to a happy and stable society, Bishop Nulty said yesterday, as part of the official statement from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ICBC) on the upcoming referendum.
He said that the ICBC’s Council for Marriage and the Family, which he chairs, said he recognises that married couples face a number of challenges in modern society.
“Marriage is essential and fundamental for the good of society worldwide. It is imperative that we continue to work together to promote marriage and family,” said Bishop Nulty.
“The objective of the proposed referendum is not to support marriage, rather to liberalise divorce.”
The Government should provide support for couples so that they can stay married, rather than plowing public funds into a referendum that would “expedite” the end of marriages, he said.
“The common good would be better served by supporting and resourcing couples and families in preparation for, and during marriage,” said Bishop Nulty.
“We believe that the incidence of marriage breakdown and divorce could be reduced through the introduction of socio-economic policies which support the family and through long-term education strategies which promote values such as fidelity and commitment.
“While this would cost money, the human and economic cost of breakdown and divorce, both for the couple and for their children, is a far greater cost.
“The Government should recommit resources to marriage preparation and invest resources into marriage enrichment. Both initiatives will sustain marriages into the future and lead to great dividends for wider society.”
In 1995, the country voted to legalise divoce by a very narrow margin of 50.3%.
But Culture Minister and former family lawyer Josepha Madigan, who has campaigned for changes to divorce law, said four years is “a difficult, unconscionable time for people when they are going through a separation”.
“They are stuck in limbo land, it often results in increasing the hostility between couples and it obviously has an adverse effect on their children,” she said.
“It also increases the costs that are involved by having two sets of proceedings.”
You can like our main Facebook page here.
Our Irish Mirror Sports Page – which brings you all your Irish and UK sports news – can be found here.
You can also check out our Irish Mirror GAA sports page.
Our Instagram account can be found here.