An Irish Catholic Cardinal has called for a calm and reasoned debate over gay marriage and abortion, but said the church was not prepared to move their position on the latter.

Cardinal Sean Brady said that a referendum on these matters may be the only way forward, suggesting that the volatile nature of debate makes it ineffective.

Speaking to the RTE, the Cardinal said that straight marriages are always preferred and that:

“We want to enhance that and have that accepted. We feel that to call it gay marriage weakens the traditional notion of marriage, which is so important in society.”

Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte said he had no problem with the Cardinal expressing the views of the Catholic Church, but also said:

“I think it would be a retrogressive step to go back to the days of the Catholic church dictating to elected public representatives how it should address an issue.”

Back in April, Brady was forced to release a statement when a Catholic priest ‘inadvertently’ displayed pornographic images of men to a group of parents at a primary school in Northern Ireland is to leave the area.