Ireland, one of Europe’s most socially conservative societies, became the first global country to approve same-sex marriage in a referendum. As a whopping number of Irish voters wittingly, knowingly and conscientiously approved the legalization of gay marriages, Diarmuid Martin, Dublin’s Catholic archbishop, believed the turnout was a sign for the church to take stock.
Martin considered the results of the referendum as “a social revolution.” Although he voted no in Ireland’s historic referendum, he said he is happy for the gay and lesbian men and women simply because he knows they feel the turnout represents “something that will enrich the way they live.”
Parallel to that happy feeling, however, is the undeniable feeling of loss by the Catholic church in Ireland. Martin said the church, now more than ever, needs to make a “reality check.”
Needless to say, the Catholic church in Ireland will continue its fight to the changing social landscape by working on a new language that will connect to people, especially the young. “The Church has to find a new language which will be understood and heard by people,” the AFP quoted Martin telling reporters after mass at the city’s St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.
Most of the young people who voted yes are products of Ireland’s Catholic school system for 12 years. As such, Martin said it’s a big question why it seems the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is not being received even within its own flock. There’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church, he stressed.
“Young people educated in religious and well as secular schools are being taught to respect equality, the right to life and all that life offers including sexual intimacy and the dignity of every human being, whatever their sex or sexual orientation. It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for young people to square this secular gospel believed by the majority with the religious doctrine practised by an ageing minority,” Christian Today reports.
Perhaps the church could start with Brighid and Paddy Whyte, an elderly Irish Catholic couple who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in September, who not only voted for legalization of gay marriages but even openly campaigned for the Yes to win. “We are Catholics, and we are taught to believe in compassion and love and fairness and inclusion. Equality, that’s all we’re voting for.”