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Yes or No?

The Jesuit Centre of Spirituality and Culture in Galway is organizing a workshop aimed at helping people in their decision making regarding the upcoming referendum on gay marriage. It will take place in 6 Ely Place, Sea Road, Galway on Saturday 9th May 2015: coffee at 9.30 am, meeting starts at 10.00, ends at 13.00. The workshop is not about promoting either a Yes or a No vote, but about setting up a safe space where people can discuss the various things affecting them as they go about trying to decide what way they should vote.

According to Jesuit Gerry Clarke, one of the organizers that whatever about the arguments, “It is clear that the issue touches all citizens deeply.  Some have relatives in same-sex relationships and don’t want to hurt them or undermine their happiness; others are worrying about the kind of society we are creating.  The public debate will intensify the closer we approach Referendum Day on the 22nd May, and to judge by previous referenda, it may even become bitter and divisive.  After all, these are issues which touch our lives and loved ones. Whatever way we think about the question of same-sex marriage, whether it’s to vote yes or to vote no, simply doing what others tell us, or voting on an impulse would be a poor way of making a decision.”

He says the centre has already run a pilot workshop with twelve participants, as well as two facilitators and two observers. “The feedback from the event was very positive, with people really welcoming the opportunity to voice their concerns, questions and emotions around the issue. They felt they were heard in a non-judgmental way and were given the space to reason things out and listen openly to others.”

The workshop consists of two parts, says Fr Clarke. “First we will be able to look at where we are, how we feel and what we think in relation to the proposed change to the definition of marriage. The second part of the morning will look at how we make better decisions and will involve consideration of some general techniques of decision-making as well as those offered by Ignatian spirituality.”

St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits is well known for his understanding and reflection on the way to make good choices. In many ways he was way ahead of his time even in his psychology of decision making. “Nowadays, his language may have been updated but his key insights are unchanged, insights such as taking time to choose, consulting with trusted friends or experts, not making a decision when you’re feeling low, using your head and your heart together, not acting on impulse”.

If you would like to participate, contact Gerry Clarke SJ at 086 8776537 or by email at [email protected] To prepare for the meeting, read one or more of these four articles selected from Catholic cultural, theological and pastoral reviews. They are differing in their stances and are offered to stimulate reflection on the proposed amendment to the Constitution, and save participants from arriving cold at the workshop.

Gallagher, Raphael. ‘Current Debates on Marriage’. Doctrine and Life, April 2015
McCarthy, Padraig. ‘The Church, the State and the Marriage Referendum’. The Furrow, April 2015
Moloney, Raymond. ‘The Marriage Referendum’. The Furrow, March 2015
Riordan, Patrick SJ. ‘The Purpose of the Law: the Case of Same-sex Marriage’. Studies, Spring 2014