Irish Arguments About Marriage Equality Go From the Ridiculous to the Sulbime

March 3, 2015

Marriage equality demonstrators in Dublin, Ireland.

For those of us in countries where the marriage equality debate has been ongoing for several years, it may seem that we have already heard the most outrageous comments opposing such measures.  And, sadly, those comments often come from Catholic officials.   We may have also thought we have heard some of the most insightful pro-marriage arguments, but it seems there are still more to be made.

The debate in Ireland over marriage equality, which is to be put to a national referendum on May 19th,  has recently fostered a bishop’s comment which bewilders logic.  At the same time, a Catholic lay spokesperson has argued eloquently in favor of the measure.

Bishop Kevin Doran of the Diocese of Elphin recently offered that gay and lesbian people are already allowed to legally marry–just not each other.  In a talk at a parish, Doran went through a list of rhetorical questions about lesbian/gay people and marriage, ending with:

“Can people of homosexual orientation marry?

“This is quite interesting, because most people would probably say that they cannot legally do so. But, of course there is no legal obstacle to a person of homosexual orientation getting married, just as a heterosexual person can.

“To that extent the question of marriage equality simply doesn’t arise. (Whether it is good or just or wise for a homosexual person to enter marriage is another question.)”

Doran’s point is a silly one, which reflects poorly on him, and does not substantially add to the discussion.  The sad part of his statements is that their silliness overshadows a number of positive things that he said leading up to those remarks.  Discussing Catholic approaches to lesbian and gay people, he said:

“A. Can we recognise the fundamental goodness of people who are of homosexual orientation? Yes.

“B. Do we believe that they are loved by God? Yes.

“C. And that they are equal in dignity to every other person? Yes.

“D. Can they be actively involved in the life of the Church? Yes.

“E. Can friendships between people of the same sex be good, even if they are sexually attracted to one another? Yes, of course.

“While marriage is the ‘primary and most unique friendship’, there are many other kinds of friendship which are blessed by God. Friendship is an aspect of love, and love is the path to holiness.

“This of course applies equally to those who are homosexual in orientation as it does to those who are heterosexual.

“F. Can people of homosexual orientation receive the Eucharist? Yes, on exactly the same basis as heterosexual people, who are likewise called to the virtue of chastity.

“G. Can we engage with them in pastoral care for the family? Yes, of course.”

While the Irish bishops oppose marriage equality,  other Irish church leaders and the Irish Catholic lay people are very much in support of it.  The Irish Times reported on a recent statement from a coalition of religious organizations, including two Catholic lay groups, We Are Church Ireland and Gay Catholic Voice Ireland.  One leader was quoted in the story:

“Brendan Butler, of We Are Church Ireland, said the Catholic Church’s opposition to marriage equality was the view of ‘the hierarchical church. We are representing a huge squad of ordinary Catholics. We have people in our group who are gay people as well as mothers and grandmothers of gay people. They are appalled at the attitude of the church.’ “

Butler recently penned an op-ed for The Irish Times in support of marriage equality, and he argued:

“Jesus of Nazareth challenged the skewed values and injustices of the religious and political elites of his day and their exploitation and marginalisation of their people.

“We as followers of Jesus must also challenge the injustices of our Church and society.

“This Kingdom of God is not confined to the Church but to the creation of a more just society in which all people are valued as equals.

“This is a vision which We are Church Ireland proclaims. We wish and work for a society where a person’s sexual orientation is not a cause of discrimination or prejudice.

“When it comes to marriage, Christians do not have the ownership of the institution and should invite gay, lesbian and transgender people to share in the joys of marriage if they so wish.

“As a result of a yes vote in the referendum we will have a more just and inclusive society befitting the dignity of all people.” recently reported that polls show strong support for marriage equality among the Irish population:

It recently emerged that one in five voters are still undecided about how they will vote in the referendum in May. The poll found that while 62 percent were in favour with 16 percent opposed, 22 percent of voters are still unsure/didn’t know how they would vote on the issue.

In such a heavily and traditionally Catholic nation, the results of this referendum will be significant for Catholic politics.  Una Mullaly, writing in The Guardiannoted:

“To get this far is nothing short of a phenomenal achievement. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993; the Civil Partnership Act passed in 2010. The dedication of LGBT rights groups has changed hearts and minds. And now, Ireland is staging a referendum that enjoys support from all major political parties and the majority of the public, something unimaginable just a decade ago. . . .

The world will be watching Ireland in the lead-up to May’s referendum. If the Irish electorate seizes this opportunity, it won’t just be a local victory, it could be the watershed moment the global movement for marriage equality has been waiting for.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Ireland’s “Gay Moment” as Marriage Referendum and Ban on Employment Discrimination Approach

February 3, 2015

As Ireland’s referendum on same-gender marriage approaches this spring, LGBT issues are making headlines nationwide in what one columnist calls ‘Ireland’s gay moment.’ Irish legislators are also considering a bill regarding family law for same-gender couples, separate from marriage rights, and a review of the country’s ban on gay blood donors. Perhaps of greatest interest to Catholics in the U.S. concerned about LGBT people being fired from Catholic schools is a directive being considered: a ban on church worker employment discrimination.

The following are recent developments with links provided for further reading.

Church Workers Could Win Employment Rights

Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin intends to change the nation’s Employment Equality Act so that church workers who are LGBT, divorced, or parents outside of marriage will be protected from discrimination. Many of Ireland’s public schools are administered by the church meaning this change will have a widespread impact. The minister says current law:

” ‘…has a chilling effect when people feel they can’t be themselves…Members of the LGBT community and divorcees and unmarried parents will not have a fear of being themselves and being open about their private lives if they are working in schools and hospitals.’ “

Ríordáin hopes to have the changes approved by Easter reports the Irish Examiner.

Referendum Wording Released; Catholics Respond

The Irish government released the language change in regard to marriage that people will be voting on this spring.  Voters will be asked if they want the following language added to the national: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

Two groups, Gay Catholic Voices Ireland (GCVI) and We Are Church Ireland, responded positively. GCVI chair Ciarán O’Mathuna said in a statement:

” ‘Civil marriage is a matter for the state and should not be confused with church marriage. As chair person of GCVI and as a practicing Catholic, I want to call on all thinking Catholics to be fully aware of this distinction and vote yes for equality and social justice which, is a cornerstone of our faith belief.’ “

We Are Church said in its own statement:

 “[S]ocial justice requires that loving, committed relationships between two consenting adults should be treated equally by the Irish State, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”

Meanwhile,  RTE reports that Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, head of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Marriage and Family, objected to the language, as expected, saying it was cold.  He promised a campaign against the referendum. However, critics are criticizing the hierarchy for scaremongering in an Ireland where the church’s power is greatly diminshed. In a column for the Irish Examiner, Michael Clifford writes:

“[T]he basis on which the main plank of the no campaign is being run harks back to a time when the Catholic Church controlled the State…they have resorted to fear and to concern for children…Back in the day, they wouldn’t have had that problem. The Church would have merely issued an edict and the population would have complied, in both letter and spirit.”

Leo Varadkar

Top Minister Comes Out as Gay

Ireland’s Health Minister Leo Varadkar came out last month, becoming the first openly gay cabinet minister in this nation where homosexuality was criminalized until 1993, reports Bloomburg BusinessIn a radio interview, Varadkar said being gay was “just part of who I am,” and he continued:

” ‘I want to be honest with people, I don’t want anyone to think I’ve a hidden agenda…Whatever decisions are made on any issue, I’ll make them according to what I believe is in the public interest.’ “

These decisions include the marriage referendum and a pending review of a ban on gay blood donors. Varadkar is heavily favored to take over the leading Fine Gael party, which could mean Ireland has its first openly gay Taoiseach (prime minister) in the near future, as well. While Varadkar’s coming out was welcomed by Irish leaders, it failed to generate headlines in Europe where LGBT ministers are increasingly commonplace.

Yesterday, Bondings 2.0 reported that an Irish Catholic school cancelled an anti-bullying workshop for failing to present “the other side.” Taken together, all of these stories reveal that while one of the world’s most Catholic nations is undergoing great positive changes when it comes to LGBT rights, much work, particularly for Catholic institutions, remains.

For Bondings 2.0’s ongoing coverage of Ireland’s marriage referendum, click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Anti-Bullying Workshop Cancelled for Failing to Present “Other Side”

February 2, 2015

A Facebook meme posted by upset Coláiste Eoin students.

A planned anti-bullying workshop at a Catholic school in County Dublin, Ireland, was cancelled because school administrators said that it did not represent the “other side” of the issue, though they remained vague about what that might be.

Facilitators from Shout Out, an LGBT education group contracted by the school to conduct the workshop, had already arrived at Coláiste Eoin secondary school when administrators told them the event was cancelled, reported the BBC.

Parents had complained about the workshop, which Shout Out had done twice before at the all-boys school without previous incident. According to the principal Finín Máirtín, the workshop did not present the “other side,” which the school later clarified as meaning “other view points which have been expressed.” The The Journal reports the school’s Board of Management is choosing to stand by the administrator’s decision.

The workshop, led by LGBT twenty-somethings with experience in Irish schools, is described on ShoutOut’s website in the following way:

“Homophobic and transphobic bullying is a real and life-threatening problem in Irish schools. Our one hour interactive sessions build understanding for people who are struggling with their sexuality, foster support amongst friends and classmates, and encourage a supportive and welcoming school environment for LGBTQ students.”

Coláiste Eoin students took to social media to protest the decision. They organized on Facebook to wear rainbow clothing during classes the next day, enlisting the support of the neighboring Catholic all-girls school to join the protest. A hashtag, #ColaisteEoin, also gained prominence on Twitter. Even Ireland’s Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan weighed in on the controversy by expressing her disappointment and her hope that the program would be rescheduled soon.

Coláiste Eoin administrators released a statement saying that they are proposing to reschedule the workshop because they are a “caring, tolerant and inclusive school community.” However, Declan Meehan of ShoutOut has contacted the school repeatedly, and he has been told that the initial decision stands.

It is difficult to think of what “other side” there is to an anti-bullying workshop. Treating every person according to their human dignity and condemning discrimination are entirely consistent with Catholic teaching. There is no excuse for the bullying of LGBTQ youth. The church’s schools in Ireland and elsewhere should do their utmost to prevent this  harmful phenomenon. Coláiste Eoin should reverse their decision and invite SpeakOut to present the workshop with the school’s full apology.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Ireland’s Gay Catholic Voices Speak Out for Faith and Equality

December 22, 2014

The Republic of Ireland, one of the most heavily Catholic nations, has taken center stage on the global LGBT scene in 2014, showing that Catholics, even in perhaps more traditional cultures, are eager to work for equality and justice.  (At the end of this post, we include links to previous posts this year which featured positive steps toward LGBT equality in Ireland.)

One of the reasons for this expansion surely has to be the presence of the national organization, Gay Catholic Voice Ireland (GCVI).  Founded in 2013, the group has been working at providing a Catholic pro-LGBT voice in Irish debates about marriage equality, pastoral care, and other LGBT issues. The Irish Times recently profiled several of their members in an article provocatively titled “Gay Catholics pray 2015 will be the year of the welcome.”

The reporter met up with GCVI members at the monthly “All Are Welcome” Mass, held on the third Sunday of the month, 3:30 pm, at the Carmelite Centre off Morehampton Road in Dublin.  The reporter was impressed by the reflective atmosphere of the liturgy, as well as the hospitality it offered:

“It’s a notably different experience from any Sunday Mass I’ve been to, although little of that has anything to do with the rainbow flag stretched across the altar. Prayers aren’t sped through, readings aren’t mumbled and ignored. Instead the parishioners reflect silently on what has just been said before speaking their thoughts aloud, while the prayers of the intercession are opened to the floor, allowing you see what is on the mind of the parishioners. . . .

“By attending All Are Welcome, the congregation is enacting the change it wants to see brought about. It’s a haven for those in second marriages, who have gay children or for straight allies who can’t equate the Christ in their hearts with the hatred spewed on the pews elsewhere.”

Ciarán Ó Mathúna, the chairman of GCVI, commented on the developments of the past year, particularly the synod on marriage and the family, which the reporter described as the Church playing “a coquettish game of footsie with the gay community” by first releasing a positive mid-term report, only to pull back from their affirming outreach and retreating to traditional positions in the final report.  Ó Mathúna commented hopefully on the synod:

“Had we not seen the draft we would have said the report was a step in the right direction. It’s disappointing because expectations were raised. But it was only around six votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. When the issue is revisited in a year’s time, the pope will get it through.”

Of course, the reporter asked the age-old question that arises in stories on this topic:  Why does an LGBT person remain Catholic?  Two GCVI members offered insightful responses:

“ ‘The message of Christ trumps all,’ says Christopher Fitzpatrick, who was taken to a psychiatrist to help change his persuasion when he was younger. ‘The blessings we receive outshine the negativity that come from the human failings of the church, the misinterpretations of philosophies.’

“ ‘There’s the authority of the hierarchy, but also the authority of your conscience,’ says Soline Humbert, who is straight and married. ‘A lot of us feel that we cannot accept those toxic teachings. We have to take responsibility for them. I’ve stayed within the church to help remove this poison, which is a counter-witness to the message of the gospel.’ ”

And a parent spoke about the challenges that LGBT people face in the Irish church:

I come to this Mass in acknowledgment of that. I think it’s what Jesus wants. The basis of any religion is love. If God welcomes you no matter what, who are we to cause hurt by words spoken in disrespect?”

“Paula [who did not want to use her real name] is actively involved in her own parish but has to be careful who she tells that her son is gay. ‘I brought him to my church to be baptised, for his First Holy Communion and his Confirmation. But I’ve seen some of my son’s friends disowned by their families because of what is said by the church.’

“Paula has good cause for concern. Many gays have been forbidden from taking Communion after an open-minded priest is moved on and replaced with a dogmatic one. Choir singers, readers and ministers of the Eucharist have been removed from their positions for the same reasons, while more liberal priests are afraid to speak out for fear more conservative members of their flock report them to their superiors.”

You can read more testimonials in the full article which can be accessed by clicking here.  Gay Catholic Voice Ireland also produced a video offering perspectives from three gay men and one lesbian woman about faith and sexuality.  You can view the video by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Articles about Ireland on Bondings 2.o in 2014:

January 9: “Former President of Ireland Calls for Change in Church’s Teaching on Homosexuality

February 11: “Signs of Openness on LGBT and Marriage Issues from Two European Church Leaders

March 14: “LGBT Rainbows Are Appearing Over Ireland

September 8: “Ireland’s Catholics March Onward for LGBT Equality

September 9: “St. Vincent de Paul Society Gives Grant to LGBT Center Despite Bishop’s Challenge

December 9: “Irish Bishops and Laity Have Differing Views on Marriage Equality

December 12: “Elphin Bishop, Bert & Ernie, Gay Priests, and Colin Farrell Are All Involved in Ireland’s LGBT Debates





Irish Bishops and Laity Have Differing Views on Marriage Equality

December 9, 2014

The Republic of Ireland has become the latest of focus of Catholic LGBT political involvement. And as is becoming the pattern in many heavily Catholic nations, there is a huge divide between the way that the Catholic hierarchy addresses these issues and the way that the Catholic people in the pews do so.

Ireland is gearing up for a Spring 2015 referendum on whether to extend marriage laws to gay and lesbian couples.  The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference has entered the debate by releasing a pamphlet entitled “The Meaning of Marriage,” in which they defend the position that marriage should only be open to heterosexual couples. The Irish Times reported on the press conference “launch” of the pamphlet:

” ‘The view of marriage as being between man and a woman and for life, that’s not something which is particular to Catholics and Christians. There are people of all kinds of other religious beliefs, and of none, who believe in that,’ said Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, who is chair of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference council for marriage.

“ ‘To put any other view of marriage on the same level as Christian marriage would be a disservice to society rather than a service,’ added Bishop MacDaid . . .

Since same-gender marriage has been a reality around the globe for well over a decade now, and since we have research on the benefits that marriage equality has had for those couples, their children, and society, it is a very weak argument to say that allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry will somehow devalue or harm heterosexual marriage and society.

The Irish Times also noted:

“According to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, 67 per cent of Irish people support the notion of same-sex marriage being constitutionally enshrined, with just 20 per cent of respondents opposed to such a move.”

Brian Sheehan, director of the Gay and Lesbian Network, a leading Irish LGBT organization, countered the bishops’ assertions with statistical information about the state of marriage in Ireland, noting:

“ . . . ‘[O]ne third of children born in Ireland are born to single parents. They grow up in a variety of diverse family arrangements.’ Allowing gay and lesbian couples make such a commitment in civil marriage ‘would strengthen marriage.’ ”

Christian Today reported on a significant symbolic gesture which shows how far Catholic Irish leaders have come in their support of LGBT equality. Reporting on the bishops’ release of their document, the article stated:

“The Church’s launch came a day after Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny was pictured in one of Dublin’s main gay bars at an event held by his party’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) society. . . .

” ‘The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in a gay bar is a first,’ renowned Irish drag queen Panti Bliss, owner of Pantibar, the bar Kenny visited, wrote on its Facebook page.

” ‘Only a few years ago a Taoiseach wouldn’t have dared, so it shows how times have changed.’ “

One week before the brochure on marriage was released, Bishop Kevin Doran of the Elphin Diocese said in a talk that his opposition to marriage equality was

“ ‘not about homosexuality or the gay lifestyle, it is about the meaning of marriage.’

“He said ‘societies rely on families built on strong marriages to produce what they need but cannot secure: healthy upright children who become conscientious citizens.’ “

Doran’s arguments were countered in a letter to the editor from Dave Donnellan, secretary of the Gay Catholic Voice Ireland, the nation’s LGBT Catholic organization.  Citing an Irish Medical Journal report that said that LGBT youth are 14 times more likely to commit suicide and 16 times more likely to be the victim of sexual assault, Donnellan called on Catholic bishops to have their priorities better placed:

“This opposition [to marriage equality] mistakenly suggests that the primary issue from a Catholic perspective is a legal one. It’s not. The primary issue here for the Catholic Church is not legal, it is pastoral.

“The question is, do we as a church care about LGBT people who are suffering greatly as the study mentioned above, and others like it suggest? Have we put in place any pastoral care plan to respond to the needs of these vulnerable young LGBT people?

“The fundamental question for the Catholic Church is: ‘Do we love our LGBT people?’ What the LGBT community needs from Bishop Doran and the other bishops in the run-up to the referendum is a witness to the love that God has for the LGBT community and not instructions on how to vote in a referendum.”

Donnellan’s emphasis seems to be in line with Pope Francis’ admonition that bishops should not be “obsessed” with issues like gay marriage.

Stay tuned for more on LGBT political issues in Ireland later in the week on this blog.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles:

National Catholic Reporter: “Irish bishops: Marriage between man, woman is matter of justice” “Irish Ad Looks to Inspire Youth to Say ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality”

St. Vincent de Paul Society Gives Grant to LGBT Center Despite Bishop’s Challenge

September 9, 2014

Yesterday, we reported on some developments in Ireland that showed that Irish Catholics were responding more and more positively to LGBT issues.  We saved one story for its own post, not only because it is a remarkable development, but because it contrasts so strikingly with what sometimes happens here in the States.

The Irish Times reported that Ireland’s St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) Society recently gave a grant of €45,000  to  “Amach! LGBT Galway,”  a resource center which serves the sexual and gender minority community there.  The grant will be disbursed over three years. [Editor’s Note:  “Amach” is Gaelic for “out.”]

What makes this story even more remarkable is that when Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway objected to the grant and asked for a clarification of the decision, the SVP defended their action, and countered the bishop’s concerns about “moral grounds” with an accounting of how they indeed acted morally.

The Irish Times  reports:

“Bishop Drennan said that ‘on moral grounds we can’t support that.’ Homosexual activity was ‘in our eyes morally wrong behaviour and we cannot put funds at the service of what we don’t believe is morally incorrect.’ His problem was ‘the moral judgement involved.’ The reputation of the SVP ‘has been put in question by this grant,’ he said.”

Initially, according to the newspaper, an SVP official responded that the decision to fund the LGBT group

“was made purely on the basis of need in the Galway area, in the same way as all requests for support are assessed. It does not signify any other motive.”

In an article in The Independent, Jim Walsh, SVP spokesperson, further explained where the grant money came from, and that it did not impact their donations to other needy causes, which totalled about €42 million pounds in 2012.  Walsh stated:

” ‘The money that has been granted comes from a specific fund, the Maureen O’Connell Fund, and so it has no direct connection to any of the other money spent by the SVP,’ Jim Walsh said.

“He rejected suggestions that the money would be better spent on funding those more obviously in poverty, such as those asylum seekers trapped in direct provision or the elderly.”

Indeed,  “Amach! LGBT Galway” itself serves needy clients.  The Indedpent offers this description:

“The centre is intended to be a safe space where LGBT people can address issues and concerns such as prejudice, isolation, loneliness, depression and the lack of opportunities to network with peers.”

An Irish blogger on points out:

“A popular stereotype is that LGBT people are happy! Fun! And are inundated with disposable income! They are fabulous and ageless men, they live fabulous lives, with fabulous homes and fabulous lifestyles. Everything is rosy, just like on TV or just like in some kind of liberal, south Dublin bubble.

“The reality, according to the evidence, can often be very different.

“LGBT people can experience marginalisation, stigmatisation, difficulty accessing essential services, all of which impacts on our health and well-being.”

The statistics used to support the above claim are staggering, especially on the situation of LGBT people in Ireland.  The numbers strongly support the SVP statement that the grant was given to an “excluded and marginalised group in need.”

The main question that arises for me from this story is “Why does Bishop Drennan think of morality only in terms of sexual morality and not the morality of helping a population that has been ostracized, under-served, and in need of healing and reconciliation?”  The SVP obviously saw morality in much broader terms than the bishop did.

An equally important point to make, though, is that the SVP action contrasts greatly with many recent actions in the U.S. where Catholic funds have been withdrawn from social service agencies because of LGBT issues.  In all the cases, the funds were withdrawn not even because the agencies were serving LGBT clients, but because from time to time they acted in coalition with LGBT organizations.  You can read about all those actions by clicking here.

Obviously, Catholic leaders in the U.S. have something to learn about humility, charity, and a-political service from Ireland’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Ireland’s Catholics March Onward for LGBT Equality

September 8, 2014

St. Paul community members marching in Newry Pride

Ireland has been a heavily Catholic nation historically, and Catholics have become more LGBT-supportive in recent years, and particularly in recent weeks. Below, Bondings 2.0 offers a round up of several Catholic LGBT stories emerging from Eire.

Catholic Students Stand Out in Pride Parade

Students from St. Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, Northern Ireland, participated in local Pride celebrations last weekend, led by principal and noted proponent of Catholic education Jarlath Burns. St. Paul’s is one of the country’s largest secondary schools and their delegation during the Newry parade in County Armagh is thought to be a first. Upperclass students received an invitation to march in the parade via the school’s Facebook page, which noted:

” ‘We are proud to be a school that embraces diversity and promotes inclusivity, further demonstrating commitment to our Catholic ethos…The rainbow flag will be flown at the school to mark our support for equality for all.’ “

Burns, facing some criticism, explained his decision to the Irish Independent saying:

” ‘We just wanted to walk to show solidarity with what is a marginalised group in our society, to show them compassion, dignity and respect’…

” ‘Schools should not be places where students are ridiculed or made feel isolated…We are proud to be a Catholic school and it because of that we decided to walk as a group and give Christian witness’…

” ‘It may have been controversial but we have to challenge ourselves and the status quo…We can’t be bound by tradition. It’s in that context that we decided to march and I’m very proud of what we did.’ “

This latest news comes as Irish Catholic schools awaken to the problem of LGBT bullying, with many religious institutions in the Republic of Ireland already participating in the government’s “Stand Up! Awareness Week” and implementing LGBT education into curricula.

If you’re on Facebook, you can view further photos of St. Paul students marching by clicking here. If you’re on Twitter, consider thanking St. Paul’s Bessbrook (@StPaulsBBrook) for its inclusive witness, and also thank Burns (@jburns832) for his ongoing leadership.

Dubliners March for Marriage Equality

Irish Catholics were among the thousands who marched through Dublin in support of marriage equality earlier this month, reports NewsTalk. The march comes as the Republic of Ireland prepares for a constitutional referendum on the issue to be held early next year, with early polls indicating only 20% of voters opposing legal recognition for same-gender couples. Marriage equality is also supported by Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny and several high-profile ministers. The Irish Catholic bishops oppose the measure and have threatened to withdraw from civil marriage processes if it passes, though many observers believe their influence in Irish politics is limited and wanes further as time progresses.

Mary McAleese

McAleese Advertisement Banned

Former Irish President Mary McAleese has routinely condemned the church’s hierarchy for their approach to and teachings on homosexuality, calling for Catholics to rethink sexual ethics in light of modern science and knowledge. For this, and her support of women’s ordination, an Australian Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Weekly, has banned advertisements for McAleese’s upcoming appearance at Sydney’s “Catalyst for Renewal,” an event focused on the discussion of Catholic issues later this month. Irish Central reports that the paper’s editor Peter Rosengren said that neither he nor the Church “see homosexuality as a sin.”  The newspaper article noted that Rosengren added:

“. . .that having once employed a gay person at his newspaper he believed he had achieved a special degree of insight into homosexuality.”


In a related note, Irish Americans can now celebrate a more inclusive St. Patrick’s Day in 2015 as the New York City parade will feature an explicitly LGBT contingent and be led by Cardinal Dolan who said he welcomed the decision. For Irish Catholics of all types, the rainbows of inclusion and welcome continue to grow and grow!

Stay tuned for another post with good news from Ireland later this week!

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


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