Northern Ireland news

Archbishop reaffirms opposition to cohabitation before marriage

Archbishop Eamon Martin has re-affirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to co-habitation. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
John Monaghan

ARCHBISHOP Eamon Martin has re-affirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to co-habitation before marriage.

In an interview with veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland said it was not positive that sex is "treated in such a trivial way by society".

He said: "Just because something (co-habitation) has become more common and because it may be part of the culture of the day doesn't mean that we have to say that it is something good or morally right.... the Church has a full understanding that sexual expression is within a marriage between a man and a woman."

He added: "I would believe that it is not good that we have become so permissive... I don't think it is good for young people."

Statistics suggest just over half of couples who got married in 2013 in Northern Ireland lived at the same address prior to the wedding.

The Catholic Church has traditionally opposed unmarried couples living together, although the recent Vatican synod on the family appeared to acknowledge the reality in many countries.

In the interview, to be broadcast on Irish TV on Sunday, Archbishop Martin also admits that he had "self-doubts" about becoming a priest, specifically with relation to celibacy and marriage.

He said: "Would I be able to conform completely to what the Church was asking of me? Would I be able to give up the joy of being a married man?"

Pressed about whether he ever desires female company, Dr Martin said: "I think any man has to be careful and have boundaries in behaviour."

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