Church of Ireland divided after Synod vote on same-sex marriage

The Church of Ireland is now facing a north-south divide after Synod members voted against a proposal to ease its stance on same-sex marriage and its relationship with the LGBT community.

(REUTERS / Cathal McNaughton)Gay rights flags hang in the windows of a building in central Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage, May 22, 2015.

On May 5, the Church of Ireland's General Synod voted 176-146 with 24 abstentions to reject a motion to conduct public thanksgiving services for legal same-sex union. However, the governing body also told Bishops to study other theological differences on the issue, the Belfast Telegraph details.

Dr. Leo Kilroy from Wicklow was the one who passed the proposal, with the support of Rev. Brian O'Rourke from Portlaoise. The motion calls on the Church to admit the "injury" felt by individuals in same-sex relationships because of the absence of a service for their legal union in church.

Most of the Synod members who voted against the proposal are from Northern Ireland. Rev. Trevor Johnston of Connor diocese said the motion is built with "discrimination against those who didn't act on their same-sex attraction."

Aside from Johnston, Canon Maurice Elliott of Down and Dromore diocese also expressed his views against the proposal. He thinks passing the motion would harm the Church of Ireland's relations with other Anglican churches.

Rev. Brendan McCarthy of Kilmore diocese, on the other hand, spoke in favor of the motion, saying his views about the LGBT individuals were wrong and that he had caused them pain. For Rev. Gillian Wharton of Dublin diocese, the arguments against the proposal were the same ones used against female clergy.

Based on data from the Central Statistics Office, same-sex marriages make up almost five percent of all the marriages in 2016. Of the 1,056 same-sex unions last year, 606 were between males and 450 were between females, the Irish Times relays.

On May 23, 2015, the same-sex marriage referendum was passed after 62 percent voted for it and 38 percent voted against it. The law on same-sex marriage was implemented on Nov. 16 of the same year.

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