Irish Independent

Irish Independent
23 April 2004

McGuinness Angers Church by Standing Up for Gay Rights
By David Quinn

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, a practising Catholic, has been
attacked by a leading churchman after openly expressing his support
for gay marriage and adoption, as well as abortion under certain

Mr McGuinness, who is interviewed in this week's Irish Catholic, also
denies there is any antagonism in Sinn Fein towards the Catholic

He dismisses Catholic Church opposition to gay marriage, reiterated
in a Vatican document issued last year and says he backs his party's
support for gay marriage and adoption on the grounds that we "live in
a new age of equality".

Mr McGuinness also says he personally supports abortion in cases of
rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is at risk.

Mr McGuinness has been attacked over his remarks by one of the
Church's leading academics. Fr Brendan Purcell, a lecturer in
philosophy at UCD, rounded on Mr McGuinness saying it
is "unacceptable and inconsistent for a Catholic politician to so
drastically detach his politics from the teachings of his Church
in this way".

Father Purcell said: "A person's religious beliefs shouldn't be all
but irrelevant to his politics. A Catholic politician is not bound to
legislate Church teaching, but where your Church teaches that
something is a basic human right, for example the right to life, or
the right of a child to have a mother and father, you can't simply
jettison these teachings from your political life."

He added: "Church/State separation doesn't mean that Catholic beliefs
concerning human rights must not be allowed to influence how
politicians vote. Why should religious beliefs be barred from the
public arena in this way when so many other beliefs, including the
belief in equality, are not?"

In the interview, Mr McGuinness says that both he and Gerry Adams
gain "solace" from attending Mass and that this is respected by other
members of the party.

"I go to Mass every Sunday and I haven't found antagonism in Sinn
Fein to the Church. Sure, people have different views, and different
beliefs in all walks of life and all political parties, but no one
has ever questioned my religion within the party or that I go to

"Gerry Adams, like me, regards himself as a Catholic, and finds
solace in going to Mass as I do. No, I find respect for my faith
within the party as I respect the right of other people to believe
what they want."

Defending his party's backing for gay marriage and gay adoption, he
says: "We undoubtedly live in a new age of equality when people are
becoming increasingly conscious of their rights. We need to ensure
that people are treated with dignity and respect.

"What we need to do is to be compassionate with all these situations.
I am sure that there are many people within the Catholic Church --
perhaps more at priest level than in the hierarchy -- who have
compassionate views on all these things."

Turning to abortion, he says that Sinn Fein is "absolutely opposed to
abortion as a means of birth control".

"Personally, I am opposed to abortion as a means of birth control but
there are difficult situations which occur that society must face up

He says that these include "rape, incest, life-threatening
circumstances facing the mother and ectopic pregnancy".

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?