Bishops welcome ‘triple lock’ protecting clergy in N. Ireland gay marriage law

Robyn Peoples, left, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, pose together after becoming the first same-sex couple to marry in Northern Ireland, in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, Tuesday Feb. 11, 2020. (Credit: Liam McBurney/PA via AP.)

Northern Ireland’s bishops have “welcomed” proposals that would not allow religious ministers to perform same-sex marriages against the teachings of their Church bodies, as well as protect the free speech rights of those opposed to same-sex unions.

LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Northern Ireland’s bishops have “welcomed” proposals that would not allow religious ministers to perform same-sex marriages against the teachings of their Church bodies, as well as protect the free speech rights of those opposed to same-sex unions.

The bishops’ remarks came in a UK government “consultation” on “Religious Same Sex Marriage,” after the territories ban on the practice was ended by the Parliament in London as part of what should have been a routine bill on the province. The same legislation also legalized abortion in Northern Ireland.

Although both same-sex marriage and abortion are now legal, Northern Ireland is not governed by the legislation on these issues which cover the rest of the United Kingdom.

Currently, same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland must be exclusively civil and cannot include religious elements such as hymns or Bible readings. The new legislation will open the door to religious same-sex marriages.

The “consultation” is a common practice in the UK to get feedback from the public on proposed legislation before it is enacted.

The Catholic bishops said they supported the so-called “triple lock” in the proposal to protect religious organizations, namely:

– officiants will only be able to solemnize same-sex religious marriage if the governing authority of the religious body they belong to has given its written consent to same-sex marriage.

– the legislation will make clear that religious bodies (and individual officiants) cannot be compelled by any means, including by the enforcement of a contract or a statutory or other legal requirement, to perform same-sex marriages or otherwise be involved in same-sex marriages.

– there will be equality law protections so that religious bodies and individual officiants do not unlawfully dicriminate if they refuse to solemnize marriages because of the sex or sexual orientation of the couple.

“The Catholic Church holds as a central tenet of its Christian belief that Marriage is the permanent, life-long union of one man and one woman, open to the generation of new life. We believe that the family, based on marriage, provides the fundamental building block of society,” the bishops said in a statement.

The bishops also supported sections of the law that that said discussion or criticism of same-sex marriage will not of itself be a legal offence and “that people remain free to express views, including critical views, about same-sex ‘marriage’, so long as this is not done in a threatening, abusive or insulting way and is not intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear.”

“The Catholic Church, as part of its universal teaching, holds that every person should be treated with love, dignity and respect and that discussion of the often complex and deeply personal issues involved in this area should be conducted with the utmost sensitivity, understanding and care for those involved,” the bishops said.


The RCC can do what it wants when it comes to gay marriage.

I have already told the consultation being undertaken by the Northern Ireland Office that The Oratory Society and its priests are not only willing, but eager, to offer marriages to same sex couples.

31st January 2020

The Rt Hon Julian Smith MP

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland


Dear Secretary of State,

I have been made aware that the Northern Ireland Office is consulting with the churches on the question of same sex marriage.

I am the Presiding Bishop of The Oratory Society and our clergy are recognised as marriage officiants in Northern Ireland and marriage solemnisers in the Republic of Ireland. We have been celebrating same sex blessings for over 30 years.

We would wish to become marriage officiants for same sex marriages in Northern Ireland just as we are marriage officiants for opposite sex weddings in Northern Ireland.

We already are marriage solemnisers for same sex marriages in the Republic. There are many same sex couples who would like to be married by a priest / clergyman in marriages recognised by the GRO for Northern Ireland as these are people of faith and want a spiritual dimension to their marriage.

I look forward to Northern Ireland allowing us to celebrate same sex marriages.

Sincerely yours,

+ Pat Buckley

I have been blessing gay unions for over 30 years.

I will now be happy to legally celebrate same sex weddings.

70 replies on “Bishops welcome ‘triple lock’ protecting clergy in N. Ireland gay marriage law”

Is it true that same-sex marriages in Northern are not permitted a religious element, such as hymns or biblical readings, even by the couple themselves? If it is, I hope every such couple cocks a snoop at the churches by adding these features after the big event.

As for Romanist priests’ not being allowed to ‘solemnize’ these marriages without written permission from, presumably, their bishops, just wait for the maverick priests to go ahead with this anyhow. 😅

Ooooh! There’s troubled waters ahead for the likes of oor Noel. His big house with its fancy new security gates will make the place seem more a beseiged fortress than a home.

You built your own prison, you episcopal halfwit. 😃


Civil marriage ceremonies in the UK have always excluded hymns and prayers. It’s not specific to the gays. You are shockingly ignorant, Magna.


I admire you Pat for your willingness to be of service as you outline. I respect what you do in this regard but I hope you will respect the beliefs and principle of other registered solemnisers, particularly those from the Catholic Church. I know there are some who wish for a more embracing, inclusive welcome for all people, irrespective of their is life’s situation. We are rapidly evolving as a society and the Church is being challenged in so many ways. What matters is the compassion and kindness we give to people who do not share our teachings re: sexuality but who feel a great and genuine need to belong to a faith community.


If NI wants to be part of the United Kingdon, then it frigging well should be in lockstep with the law of the United Kingdom and respect the values of the UK, rather than cherry picking what it wants. If you want to be British then start acting like British instead of like little Northern Irlelanders.
For the most part, most people in England, Wales and Scotland don’t really think of Northern Irelanders as British. You are Ni people, or Irish, or just plain yourselves. Better you become independent or just get cut off and hauled off in to the mid Atlantic. I doubt if the Republic wants you either. You are just trouble, for the most part. So, get over it, get on side, if you want to be part of us. Or just…..well, you know. F*** ***f. Just saying it as we see it over here.


Anon@12: Furthermore the financial drain on the UK Exchequer, the “troublesome” nature of N. Ire. politicians, especially the Unionists, and memories of the Troubles, hastens the day when English politicians will gladly divest themselves of whatever vestige of obligation remains concerning N Ireland. It will be done with public support of the voting English population, who, as you say, do not regard the N. Irelanders as anything other than Irish.
This seems to be a common analysis of most political observers and writers.
Rather than reading this “writing on the wall”, listening to the “jungle drums”, and preparing for the inevitable, there remains that sector of N. Ire. “Unionists” who blindly cover the walls with Loyalist murals and mask the jungle messages with their Lambeg drums.
Is BoJo’s shafting of Arlene and Co. only the beginning?
An equally big question: does the RoI want landed with the problem?


Excellent points. The NI Unionists are like the Boers in apartheid-era South Africa, out of step with the world and finding kinship with no-one outside their bigoted enclave. Maybe one positive outcome of Brexit will be to put them on the spot. They are a drain on the rest of the United Kingdom, and, of course the Republic doesn’t want to take them on. However, as with the state of Israel vis à vis the occupied land, there is no point in trying to rewrite history. Partition should never have happened, but it did, so we have to manage as best as we can. ( Incidentally I speak as a mainland Brit. )



Now, now 😕

Calm yourself. 😤

Pretending that the UK is a legal monolith is just a very naughty way of telling a porky. There is both legal and cultural diversity throughout the UK, as you very well know; this is one of its riches. And we should respect this. After all, we can’t all be little John Bulls, or Jolly Jocks, or Choral- Singing Taffs. Nor do we want to be, and, naturally, vice versa.

As for Britishness, ask the Jocks and the Taffs whether they self-identify as British, or as Scottish and Welsh respectively. But then, you don’t need to: you already know the answer. Does this make them any less British? No, because they are still part of Club UK…just like the Northern Irelanders.

As for the antipathy with which many Welsh and Scots regard the English, and vice versa. Ouch! It’s hardly news, then, that some in Britain regard Northern Irelanders in much the same way…and, again, vice versa. But hey! Isn’t this in the nature of families: they fight from time to time, but they stick together nevertheless.

Your petulantly stamping your feet at Nothern Ireland makes you look more a hissy-fitting child-bully than anything else. Learn to appreciate diversity. Learn to mature while presenting as less fractious, cos the UK is a conglomeration of the diverse, and you have neither the power nor the intelligence to shape it in your image.

We are the sum of parts. And a part fewer reduces the value of the whole.


The Welsh, the Scots and the English, whilst having their differences, don’t go around bombing and killing each other. That’s the difference. Ask the PSNI and security people in NI how much time they spend trying to stop both sides doing harm to each other in NI. In the UK there’s the nutty Islamist suicide idiots we have to contend with. We could do without the additional bother of NI.


Subconsciously you are once again addressing yourself, Magna. Note the chippiness over power and intelligence. Childhood trauma, no doubt. Did you fail the 11+ ? Priceless!


What devolution? In Northern Ireland, they cannot organize their own Parliament. Until January 2020 their wretched Assembly hadn’t met for three years.



The Welsh, the Scots and the English don’t go around bombing and killing each other? 😅 Oh, boy! You’ve left yourself wide open with that gaff. They may not collectively do so these days, though I suspect simmering inclination to do so remains just below the surface, especially post-Brexit.

You’re not a student of the history of these isles are you? The wars, always cruel and savage, among the Welsh, the Scots, and the English are grist for epic poetry. Now THERE was killing on a scale, and in a degree, that was never executed here.

The violence that afflicted Northern Ireland (and which continues in far lesser form) is the legacy of those wars of the British. To react so dismissively towards NI is the equivalent of defaecating on someone’s living room floor, and then chiding them for your mess.

You, principally the English, brought Northern Ireland to this juncture: you lot are principally to blame, with your empire-building ambitions, greed, and ruthlessness. (Gotta tell it like it was, like. 😄) So take your cod indignation and…Well, it is Sunday, so I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.


So, Magna, as a soi-disant student of history, would you suggest we remain locked in the days of Cromwell, the Jacobite risings, the Scottish raiders, the Highland clearances, the depredations of the Welsh valleys, or actually move on? Tellingly you project your own impotent rage onto every situation, regardless of history or geography. Every one of your opinions is entirely subjective: it’s always about YOU.


Oh, for an intelligent debate! 😩
Move on? Seriously? You answer with an idiomatic cliché. I’m doing my utmost to restrain my exasperation at your idiocy.
Move on? That’s the kind of remark that was made by Romanist bishops in The States, when reacting to the burgeoning number of cases of child-sexual abuse in the Church there. ‘Little boys heal’, as one US bishop mind-numbingly said. In other words, ‘move on’.
Your advice 😅 suggests not only a mammoth failure to appreciate the nature of the problem created here by others, fundamentally and historically, but a decided intellectual deficit to effect this HAD you such an appreciation.


2.51: Magsie Crackers, 2.16 is correct. Your world is all about YOU. Your exasperation should be aimed at your own idiocy, madness, faux outrage, disgusting abusiveness, vulgarity and constant hate speech. You are craziness personified. And I imagine that without this blog you’d be rotting in meaningless existence.


MC – do you have an opinion on anything and everything ? Perhaps you should restrict your interests and your comments, and then you might start to make sense of one or two themes, rather than spouting off at the slightest thing. Instant wisdom ?!


Typical mean-spirited response by the self-appointed religious authorities. However, if I understand the proposals correctly, Pat, there would be no barrier to your solemnizing marriages in the Oratory, nor to ministers of other Christian groups who support marriage equality. The Roman Catholic bishops clearly dread the thought of one of their priests breaking ranks and conducting a gay wedding! That is hilarious on so many levels viz the need to protect Father’s sacred hands from coming into contact with gay men.


This reducing, by priests, the criminality of child-sexual abuse in the Church reminds me of Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s glibbery about the same matter in The States: ‘This isn’t a massive, massive crisis.’ And then we had that exploding bomb, the report by the Pennsylvania grand jury.
Congreagations are dwindling, at an accelerated rate, BECAUSE of this criminality. And because people just do not see Christ, either in priests, or in priesthood.
One might think that this open cesspit in the room would have propmted those priestly heads with at least some intelligence and vision to agitate for reform. But this requires balls. Unfortunately, those of most priests are being squeezed by their bishops, through income, housing, etc, so these men renain locked, from self-interest, in a permanent state of mute and cowardly compliance. 😞


Well as you would say yourself, Magna, they are the ones who have vowed obedience to the shower of ineffectual weak cover uppers called bishops. The crisis follows naturally from there, but they have successively blamed secularism, and ‘persecution’ by the outside world, have made out that it’s anyone but themselves while also claiming to be the Holy Catholic Church.
This level of distortion and disparity would result in sectioning in the real world outside.


If that is the response of RC clerics to such delicate a matter one can only imagine what their reactions and mentalities are when it comes to Safeguarding.
What about the vilification and active persecution of victims of clerical abuse. Do they not see that it is their response, or lack of, which has allowed the rot to set in so deep.
Among Rc clergy the extra complexities around celibacy and the perceived expectations it creates – possibly an atmosphere having be seen as ‘extra’ perfect or even as demigods.


This report and the tv programme it’s based on is from September 2019. But. still very relevant.

1. The Church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, has increasingly lost its, assumed and freely given by the faithful, trust. When you lose trust, it eats away at the very foundations of the Church, and is very difficult to regain.

2. Priests, in particular, will feel this lose of trust in the institution and in them. They are at the coal face. But, remember, much of the abuse which has occasioned this loss of trust, has been perpetrated by priests. For a long time now you will rarely have seen a priest in Ireland, particularly in the cities, walking along something like O’Connell Street wearing a clerical collar. It shows you just how aware they are of their diminishing in the faithful’s affections and trust.

3. People are able to think, and the thought process goes like this: Why is it that these priests, and this Church, have been the cauldron for such wickedness and evil ? They begin to look at the lives of priests, how they live, the conditions in which they live, the culture of clericalism, and they see a dysfunction and a way of life that is duplicitous and often very different under the surface from what you see publicly. They do not blame the Devil for all that has happened. They blame the Church and the priests themselves for perpetuating an unhealthy and dysfunctional way of being priest, and for the consequences of that.

4. Solutions ? a. Openess, honesty and transparency. b. More normal and healthy ways of living for clergy. c. Married priests, with families, with all the normal and normalising aspects of life that brings. d. Women priests, opening the ministry to half the population and bringing a long needed female perspective and practice. e. Deconstruction of the highly centralised and controlling hierarchy of the Church and a return to more local organisation. f. A complete revamp of training for priests, away from the semi-monastic, remote, isolated, and self-aggrandising culture of our current seminaries.

5. Once the ministry of priesthood returns to health, then people might have trust in their priests and bishops again. Until such time they are right to be cautious.

6. Oh, and don’t blame the faithful ! Don’t lay the responsibility for all of this on them ‘losing the faith’ or being lured by a consumerist and selfish mentality. That is transferring the responsibility and blame for what has happened. This collapse of trust and dwindling congregations has been brought about by priests and bishops who can no longer be trusted to be the holy men they were called to be and to be an example of good Christian living. Take it on the chin, dear Fathers, and sort out your own house first.


I take it, Bp Pat, the other NI bishops, Duffy, McKeown, and Treanor are all… well, you know, overly flamboyant. Like Amy.


Once again. The RCC think that they can define what love is. Love is love. I know that these bozos are hypocrites but this takes the biscuit. Well over 50% of Belfast priests are gay and they seek to prevent people from the lgbt community from marrying in churches!! I think they are living in the twilight zone


Sad to say marriage is a word hi. The reality is that marriage is a state of relationship between two people. Hi but what about sister wives in America. Trying to copyright the word marriage does not mean they own the relationship. Look at history How many proclaimed marriage values but acted like ass holes hi


That is an odd thing to say, Pat, though of course it fits the dirty-minded RC definition of marriage. I would have though that loyalty, responsibility and integrity consummated a marriage. But significantly I am not married, having no time for outward gewgaws such as rings and titles.


I’m not sure that the requirements for a civil partnership or same sex marriage include sexual consummation, unlike in heterosexual / opposite sex marriage. Also, adultery is not grounds for dissolution of a same sex civil partnership or same sex marriage, again unlike with heterosexual / opposite sex marriage. I’m not sure what the requirements are for the new same sex civil partnerships, which were recently introduced in some countries. Heck, it’s a minefield !


What a ridiculous question. What about people who marry in old age or after an accident who can’t have sex? If you marry in that situation and can’t ‘consummate’ it but nonetheless value your marriage and spouse, you’re not going to take kindly to some clerical numbskull making out you’ve never been married!


I even read recently one of Boris Johnson’s marriages was annulled due to non-consummation presumably.



I agree with you. To speak of consummation of marriage in purely sexual terms reflects the RCC’ s chequered, and neurotic, history over human sex. There are much more fundamental things that ‘consummate’ marriage, and that, indeed, validate it. You mentioned them.

It is decidedly odd that the historical fear and revulsion the RCC felt towards human sex should lead them to regard sexual intercourse as the principal validator of marriage. Odder still, a marriage in which, for whatever reason, this act did not take place would be regarded as sacramentally invalid, and annulled.


Much better behaved, Magna, and I am in agreement with you. No back-sliding, please! Maybe lay off the British sherry, and we can all get on nicely together against the real enemy: abusive, lying, dishonest and entitled Catholic priests.



A problem child, indeed. And were I you, I’d use precisely the same words of a person who kept running rings round me intellectually, and effortlessly. 😅

What else is there to do to save at least some face. 😕


That’s what’s so funny, Magna, poor old bear, all those flat-earthers and other assorted cranks including those I mentioned had your self-same confidence even though they were bonkers, ignorant and wrong. As for running rings round me, you haven’t even left the start because you know I can always and effortlessly slap you down. Find another hobby: you’re finished on this blog.


What to do with Magna, this blog’s very own problem child? I’d suggest charity: he – do we know that? – reminds me of those harmless cranks who once populated London’s bedsit land until priced out. There was Stanley Green who traipsed up and down Oxford St warning about protein in the diet – inciting the passions apparently; then the guy in a bowler hat on a tricycle campaigning against Popery; and the gloriously bonkers “Sir” George King whose mother had descended to Earth in a flying saucer, and ran the Aetherious Society from a shop on Fulham Broadway. Check my facts in Wiki: something to do on a wet Sunday afternoon. The sadness of it all.


Thank you for that titbit, David. I’d love to know more having a weird interest in these old frauds who used to abound in the less fashionable London of the last century. I think Sir George also assumed Apostolic Succession – though God knows how he acquired that – as well as being an incarnation of the Buddha, a doctor of something or other and other feats of intellect not vouchsafed to other mortals save Magna. Do you know where he said the Old Mass?


I quite like the idea of the Aetherius Society myself – the only reason its beliefs seem outrageous is that Christians get accustomed to the idea of a virgin conceiving through her ear 😂
I see King’s orders came from the Liberal Catholic Church.


Thanks for observations @6:37 and 8:08 – amazing what can be gleaned from this blog. The Aetherius Society seems harmless enough. I don’t think I had heard before of the Liberal Catholic Church, but see now that it has its origins in Archbishop Arnold Matthew and episcopi vagantes whom Peter Anson used to chronicle, if you can still find his books. South London seems to attract strange goings on. There used to be a Tridentine Mass centre in the disused booking office at Crystal Palace Rail station, which advertised services in the Daily Telegraph. Today Bishop Richard Williamson holds out with the “Resistance” at Earlsfield library. There were also the far more sinister activities of the “Bishop of Medway”. Religion is a rum business. Keep your kids out of it!


Pat, it’s been just over a year since Frank held in the Vatican a big summit on the usual. What has been achieved since then? Anything?


Boo boo and ha ha to all you bandwagon haters, Fr. Ray is through yet again in DWTS…..Well done to him. He’s a great entertainer and obviously loved and admired by thousands….So, Pat, Magna and the haters – tough shit. Your hatred is USELESS.


8 14: Fr. Ray doesn’t appeal to me as a dancer: a good singer though. But he certainly did not and doesn’t deserve the Buckley/Carta style mugging and abuse on this blog. Pat has encouraged this vile, nasty abuse against him. Pat, when you do as much good, pastorally and charitably as Fr. Kelly, you can claim a higher ground, you lousy, horribly mean spirited Christian.


Jelly is being kept in for a laugh. RTE are loving it. They have their own clown and it increases their viewing figures. Jelly Kelly is being used and hasn’t got the wit to see it


He’s an ass who is being used as comedy entertainment and his ego is so big he can’t see it. When he was on BGT he wore his Roman collar. Otherwise he wouldn’t have got through. The man is more to be pitied


Get a life you sad creature@ 9.13pm. . Speaking of clowns who realistically with a name like ‘Magna’s Mumsy’ can be taken seriously. Sad pathetic dimwit more like.


Actually, at 9:38, what Magna’s Mumsy writes makes a lot of sense. It’s ironically superficial of someone with an anonymous tag to dismiss the postings of someone else on the basis of their nom de plume.
By all means critique what the poster writes but not on these grounds.
One suspects you are MC by any other name.


9 38: Perhaps you might articulate a little more intelligently and we might make sense of your silly, unintelligible ramblings…


9:38. It would seem that you just can’t handle the truth. Jelly is being used for comedy value and to boost viewing figures. If he thought he was that good to go on BGT why did he wear his Roman collar. He prostituted it for his own ego. These are facts my friend. Grow up and stop being so infantile. I can assure you that I have a very nice life but I don’t need the adulation of an audience to boost my ego
P.S. I think you got a bit mixed up . The post at 9:13 was not written by anyone purporting to be Magnas mumsy!! Any chance you have been on the sherry


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