Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones
The Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones has come out strongly against cohabiting couples this week, saying that it brings children into an "unstable environment" where the couple are unwilling to commit themselves to marriage.
The bishop made the controversial comments at a marriage jubilee celebration in Ss Peter and Paul's Church, Athlone, on Sunday afternoon attended by hundreds of people, including a large number of married couples from all over the diocese and their families.
In his homily, Bishop Jones highlighted the importance of marriage and family for the health of the couple themselves, for their children and ultimately, for the citizens of society.
The high-ranking cleric appealed to young people to rediscover the significance and sacredness of marriage for themselves and their children, and not to "trivialise the institution" by living together outside of marriage.
Speaking about the challenges to the institutions of marriage and the family today, he stated the view that cohabitation undermines the unity, the indissolubility and the sacramental character of Christian marriage.
It also brings children into an unstable environment where the couple are unwilling to commit themselves to each other in marriage, he said.
Bishop Jones also criticised the fact that in recent times lobbyists and some politicians, are seeking to have the union of two men or two women defined as marriage.
Bishop Chrisopher Jones , a native of North Roscommon, is president of ACCORD, the Catholic marriage service.