Next archbishop of Dublin not opposed to blessings of rings for same-sex couples but will not bless their marriages

Dermot Farrell said he would also like to see women deacons in the church, and that vows of celibacy could be "a choice".

A man in priestly garb speaks into a microphone
Image: Ossory Diocese

In a recent interview, Dermot Farrell, the next archbishop of Dublin, has said that while he was opposed to the church blessing same-sex marriages, and those of divorced and remarried couples, he would not have a problem with blessing their rings once it was not done in the “public domain”.

Farrell described, “The difficulty with blessings is that they are very often misconstrued as marriage. Priests have given these blessings in the past. I remember one colleague of mine. I had said to him, he used to have this ceremony of the blessing of rings, I said to him ‘I don’t have a difficulty with blessing rings if you’re doing that here in the house but if you go out into the public domain, in a church, and bless rings as you see it, they turned up with 200 people and they saw it as a marriage.’ Sometimes people use that phraseology, you’re into confusion there. It can be misconstrued as ‘yes, the priest married us’.”

Further speaking about the treatment of gay people in society, Archbishop of Dublin Farrell praised the current leader of the Catholic Church: “Pope Francis has given a great lead in terms of outreach to homosexuals. Sometimes they have been victimised in the past and have suffered an awful lot of abuse in society, physical violence against them. That’s completely and utterly wrong.

“Some of that is coming from the culture and the society in which we live, which demonised them almost. That’s absolutely completely and utterly wrong. Men or women who find themselves of a homosexual orientation, it’s not something they chose. It’s something they come to realise or discern. In the past they covered it up, they lived with it or struggled with it because they were afraid if they declared it, it had all sorts of implications. At one stage you’d find yourself in prison. Thank God it was decriminalised.”

While reticent on the issue of women priests, Farrell was in favour of women becoming deacons. “Would I like to see women deacons – I would. Women have almost preserved the faith in the church, certainly in this country and probably beyond. They were the ones who handed on the faith or took the responsibility for handing it on. Our mothers were very important in terms of teaching and prayer. They were the ones, more than the fathers.”

He also suggested that an Orthodox approach to celibacy for priests might lie in the future.

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