Irish Priest Comes Out During Mass, Endorses Marriage Equality to Applause

Fr. Dolan celebrating Mass in Dublin

A priest in Ireland recently came out as gay, telling Catholics to vote for civil marriage equality in Ireland’s upcoming referendum on the issue.

Irish Central reports Fr. Martin Dolan, longtime pastor of St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Dublin, spoke during Masses last weekend:

“Calling on his Dublin city congregation to support same sex marriage in the upcoming Irish referendum, set for the end May, Dolan said ‘I’m gay myself.’ “

Parishioners applauded him and said they were “very proud” of Dolan. Congregant Liz O’Connor told the Irish Sun that the priest consistently witnesses for the rights of all people, even speaking up for victims of clergy abuse during the Irish church’s ongoing scandals. She continued:

” ‘There’s not many of them (priests) that would come out because they’re afraid of the bishops and that, but Martin is his own man. He is a man of real conviction and he doesn’t back down…He is right to advocate gay rights. The Church should back the priest.’

” ‘He should not be condemned by the hierarchy of the Church; he should be supported.’ “

The Irish bishops have vocally opposed equal marriage rights, yet the Archdiocese of Dublin is refusing to comment on Dolan. However, The Sun quotes one church official as affirming the priest’s remarks:

” ‘It was very brave. He said he was gay. That was it…no bones about it…He was just doing his service, it was part of his homily, and that’s it. If he feels strongly about something, Martin just says it.’

“He’s happy with himself. There is no fear of him running away, he wouldn’t be one of them people…There’s a lot of gay priests but nobody will actually get up and say it.’ “

Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has a positive record on LGBT issues, previously criticizing the homophobic tone of the same-gender marriage debate in Ireland and saying church teaching on sexuality is “disconnected from real life experiences of families.” It will be interesting to see how the archbishop handles Dolan’s coming out and endorsement of same-gender marriage.

Ireland, one of the most Catholic of nations, has recently shown that its citizens are strongly supportive of LGBT equality, despite opposition from the nation’s hierarchy. The referendum is schedule for May, with a recent poll showing 71% of Irish citizens supporting equal marriage rights.

Parishioners, however, are clear that their support lies with Fr. Dolan. Liz O’Connor concludes:

” ‘I wouldn’t like to see him being moved for the statement he made. That would be horrendous. He should be supported. He has done nothing wrong. If he’s moved, there would be uproar in this parish. He’s still the same man today.’ “

New Ways Ministry applauds Fr. Dolan for his tremendous integrity and for having the courage to speak forcefully for LGBT rights. When Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny called for the church to formally recognize gay couples, this blog said “courage breeds courage.” Let’s pray that in 2015 more clergy find the courage to speak their truth and promote an inclusive Gospel.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Related article:

Belfast Telegraph: “Dublin priest receives standing ovation after saying he is gay during Mass”

14 Responses to Irish Priest Comes Out During Mass, Endorses Marriage Equality to Applause

  1. terryweldon says:

    Reblogged this on Queering the Church and commented:
    Another sign of the times!

  2. Brian Kneeland says:

    Fr. Dolan is to be congratulated both for his courage and for forming an inclusive parish! Were he in my Archdiocese (Baltimore) or my former Archdiocese (Detroit) he would surely be called in and moved! Sadly, few bishops in the U.S. have a pastoral approach – especially in the area of sexuality!

  3. Chuckee says:


  4. My soon to be published novel, The Black Wall of Silence, ( shows the muffling of gay priests as a contributing factor to the sexual abuse crisis and its cover-up in the Catholic Church. Congratulations Fr. Martin Dolan for breaking down this wall. A question: isn’t it Church teaching that marriage partners bless us, rather than the other way around? In my understanding, when I celebrate a marriage as a priest, I am an official witness of the state. Marriage is the only sacrament where the priest is a recipient (with the congregation) of the sacrament, which is administered by the couple. If this is the case, doesn’t a same-sex couple bless us by their witness of committed love, rather than the other way around.

  5. Keep this momentum moving. All Catholics of conscience, bishops, priests, and parishioners–must speak out, and speak out, and speak out. If a parish fires a LGBT person because of his/her identity, or fires a straight person for supporting LGBT equality, then funds must be withheld from that parish, and those of conscience must keep demonstrating, speaking out, and supporting those who have been wronged. This is our obligation as Catholics and as followers of Jesus Christ.

  6. Bob Burns Phila Pa says:

    It shows that if gay priest would come out they would be surprised at the support they would receive. Being an Irish American I am proud of Fr. Dolan and the members of his local church.

  7. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    Blessings on you, Fr. Dolan.

  8. […] calling the Catholic Church to greater welcome and acceptance of LGBT people. These include Irish Fr. Martin Dolan who came out to his parish during Mass and Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny who called on the church to […]

  9. […] to do great harm. There are also no reports that he sacked a Dublin priest for coming out and openly endorsing marriage equality during Mass a few months […]

  10. […] Fr. Martin Dolan of Dublin came out to parishioners during Mass in January, saying “I’m gay myself” as he called upon the church community to support LGBT rights. He was widely supported by his parish, which applauded him, while facing no public consequences from the archbishop as many feared he would. […]

  11. […] marriage equality than in almost any other nation that has debated the issue.  One priest came out as gay during a sermon in which he endorsed marriage equality. which his congregation met with applause. […]

  12. […] one expressed these other effects as poignantly as Irish priest, Father Martin Dolan who received a standing ovation from his parishioners a few months back when he came out as gay while giving a sermon in support of marriage equality. […]

  13. […] has profoundly affected the church too. Priests and nuns spoke out for the referendum and some came out as gay themselves. Early on, national prelates set a less hostile tone for the marriage debate with […]

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