Maria Hogan, in an editorial for The Tuam Herald, tackles the issue of marriage in Ireland. The predominantly Catholic country has recently passed a law allowing State Weddings in the venue of the couples choice (starting in 2007). Until then couples either had to hold two weddings (one at the Registrar’s office, one at the place of their choice), or they had to be practicing Catholics* for a day.
“Thus, we have the hypocrisy of couples who have barely darkened the door of a church since their confirmation, sallying forth in full regalia to “use” the church for their Big Day, having satisfied the criteria regarding the paperwork. What a shallow display! All for the benefit of family, friends and the desire for a sense of occasion. The couple cares not one whit for the Catholic Church or its mores. So, why do they do it? Quite simply, because the State has failed to provide appropriate, charming choices of venue in which to validate their marriage and exchange vows which are meant no less sincerely than those that are taken in the Church.”
Hogan blasts the Catholic Church in Ireland for their strict standards of marriage, and for alienating so many with its abuse and moral scandals. She claims that those denied a spiritual blessing by the Catholic Church have no choice but to seek Druids!
“The Commandments of God and the man-made rules of the Catholic Church are not necessarily in harmony. Not wishing to marry in the Catholic Church does not equal non-belief in God or that a couple eschew a spiritual dimension to their vows. Such couples are denied a Blessing or any spiritual input to have their marriage recognised in the sight of God. To acquire such a blessing at present entails resorting to Druids…If you don’t know what a Druid is, just think educated hippy-type…in the absence of a self-styled radical priest to do the honours, find a Druid. You’ll recognise him by his bare, sandalled feet, pony-tail, flowing beard or even all three. A bit like Jesus, actually.”
While Hogan isn’t seriously considering Druids as an option, the new law will allow Pagans in Ireland (or those wanting to be married by Pagans) to hold a single ceremony instead of two. Who knows, we may even see Druids and other Irish Pagan clergy gain the ability to perform legal marriages on their own someday soon.
* That isn’t entirely true, but you do have to be a Christian or Jew to obtain a legal spiritual marriage ceremony. Everyone else (including Muslims) have to perform two weddings. One civil, one spiritual.