I was of course pleased that the Irish voted in favor of same-sex marriage and delighted that the margin of victory (62% in favor) was so large. The fact that a country that is so closely identified with Catholicism gave such a strong affirmation that all people should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation has sent shock waves through not only the Catholic establishment but through much of the anti-gay world.
The reaction of the Catholic church has been interesting to watch. Those who hoped that some vague remarks made earlier by pope Francis that seemed to indicate a softening of the church’s stance against the LGBT community have been disappointed. Although he has not said anything about the vote, the Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin has condemned it, saying that he was “deeply saddened by the vote” and warned that “I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.”
Really? A result that said that people had the right to be treated equally is a defeat for humanity? That shows just how out of touch the Vatican is and how it is increasingly marginalizing itself on this issue, especially with the younger generation.
The Catholic clergy in Ireland seem to have a better sense of how serious this issue is for the church and that rather than condemning the vote, it indicates that the church needs to think seriously about its message, with archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, saying: “It is very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people … [then the church needs] a reality check.”
I am not sure what he means by a ‘reality check’. I don’t think the church will officially change its policy until a few centuries from now when everyone has accepted same-sex marriage. Then the church will quietly shift its position like it has many times before. But by that time, everyone would have ignored its teaching on this topic, just like they do now with its prohibition on the use of contraception.