Ireland is for gay marriage because it is Catholic (COMMENTARY)

A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

How is it possible that Ireland, one of the most Catholic countries in the world, voted overwhelmingly to legalize gay marriage in an historic vote on May 22?

Throughout the world, the Roman Catholic Church has made opposition to gay marriage its hallmark for the past few years, even as the momentum for “marriage equality” has grown in leaps and bounds. One reason that this stunning two-to-one approval has taken place in Ireland, the first country on the world to do so, is precisely because Ireland is so overwhelmingly Catholic.

Ireland, the source of Catholic missionaries throughout the word for hundreds of years, has suffered a drastic exodus of people from its church-going ranks since the sexual abuse scandal broke into public view during the past decade. The majority of Irish men and women may still call themselves Catholic, but they no longer accept the hierarchy as believable, particularly in matters of sexual morality. Thus, the stunning rejection of the church’s view of gay marriage as an invalid relationship in the eyes of God and the church. What the church teaches about sexuality is rejected almost as a duty. The church has no credibility in matters of sexuality in Ireland.

The Irish have been brought up by the Catholic Church to view marriage as a sacrament and that’s the reason they can shift sideways to see a same-sex relationship in the same God-blessed way. Because marriage is a beautiful commitment of love, taught to them by the church, the Irish can make the connection to two people of the same sex loving each other with a similar commitment. It is the love commitment they value, and have come to see in their friends and family members who are gay and lesbian as well. Love conquers. The Irish are lovers. It doesn’t matter who the partners are — “I promise to love you all the days of my life, so help me God.”

If one is a leader of the Catholic Church, what can be done? Maybe it is a wake-up call that is necessary. If the Catholic Church wants to be taken seriously in any conversation about sexuality, especially to young people, it needs to be honest about the sexual abuse crisis first, including the cover up by its bishops. It also needs to be honest in its dialogue about sexual morality issues with the laity, and to invite them to speak out of their experience as Pope Francis has encouraged. This is not to say that “whatever goes” as the practice of sexual relations by someone is to be accepted, but any teachings by a church that do not have the experience of its people taken into consideration is like a mind without a body, a set of laws without a basis in people’s actual lived experience.

The Catholic Church has much to offer the world in terms of our beliefs on sexuality, loving commitment, sacraments, procreation and family, but we remove ourselves from the conversation when we present ourselves as having all the answers before the conversation begins.

If the Catholic Church in the United States does not want to lose its entire younger generation, not to mention the older ones who are still trying to hold on and be faithful, we will take this vote for gay marriage in Ireland as a call to open up a discussion in our country about sexuality and where God is calling us now.

Why Ireland? It’s because of their faith in God, which is bigger and deeper than the Catholic Church, especially when many believe the church has betrayed them.

(Paul F. Morrissey is an ordained Roman Catholic priest and author of the recently published novel,The Black Wall of Silence.” This commentary first appeared in USA Today.)


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Paul F. Morrissey


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  • Of course the Catholic Church has no credibility. Catholics the world over are finally starting to understand the difference between the faith and the church. The church had brainwashed them into thinking the two terms were mutually-synonymous and the faithful are waking up – the only good thing to come from the abuse scandal.

  • The church fouled its nest with sexual abuse scandals, on top of scandals involving convents/orphanages/human trafficking. To add insult to countless injury it showed no sign of remorse, making amends, or restitution.

    Any pretense of moral authority was gone long before the vote. The church’s entanglement with the modern Irish government has been damaging to the nation. Living proof that failing to separate church and state undermines the authority of both.

    To you “Christian Nation” folks, take note. When you make church dogma into law of the land, you sow the seeds of destroying religious authority. You cheapen it beyond all ability to rehabilitate.

  • Paul F. Morrissey,

    “Love conquers.”

    What a terrible thing you are attempting to do – to recast the astonishing success of the Irish people in throwing out the mind-manacle of The Catholic Church and somehow try to turn it into a referendum on the loving message of The Catholic Church!

    This Church has ruthlessly DENIED homosexuals their rights and every scrap of dignity for centuries.

    If it were up to The Church this liberating day would never have happened. Gays would have continued face the depravities of your enforced superstition and been executed.

    You have a responsibility to face the facts here.
    The God of the Bible has lost. Jesus has lost.

    “Kill Homosexuals” – God (Lev 20:13)
    “Execute them..” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    You cannot say these disgusting messages “are loving” and in the same breath celebrate the liberation from them!

    Religion is primitive nonsense and good riddance.

  • The Church just needs to speak the Truth, and at some point, they will come back. All that’s glitter isn’t gold. Truth has its own attractiveness.

  • This commentary is thoughtful. On one hand, I can accept that Catholic teaching on matrimony as sacramental has engendered a sense of the holiness of love among the Irish. But may I suggest the author doesn’t go far enough. The Catholic people and the hierarchy supposedly drink from the same Holy Spirit, but the people (who are the Church) reject hierarchy teaching on same-sex relationships. Hello! That means there is a disconnect, and that the teaching of the hierarchy is either flat wrong or at least incomplete. This is true not only in Ireland but in most Catholic countries, where the People of God do not receive the blundering things which have been taught about LGBT people. Go back to the drawing board, bishops.

  • Michael, The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this issue in paragraphs 2357-2359. But you are correct, the Church will now need to do a complete dissertation, or encyclical on it. The idea of a sacrament, or sacred mystery, is that while the legal bonding is taking place, there is a spiritual bonding, as well. A sacramental marriage can only take place between two baptized people of the opposite sex. Baptism joins a person’s soul to the Body of Christ (Gal 3:27), and when these two souls call God in as a witness during the ceremony, their souls are spiritually joined together as one (Mark 10:8), bonded together by Christ Himself. This couple now has in a sense one soul, with Christ bonding the two. The family is seen as the domestic Church, and is a reflection of Christ’s bond to his body, the Church (Eph 5:31-32) If either person has not been baptized, then the marriage isn’t sacramental, as one or both of their souls has yet to be joined to the body of Christ.

  • Greg,

    “….if either person has not been baptized, then the marriage isn’t sacramental, as one or both of their souls….”

    What laughable superstitious Hooey!

    Religion is a legal public nuisance.
    You have every right to it. But it is like the right to get drunk, or to smoke too many cigarettes, to gamble and make wishes in wishing wells!

    Nothing at all to be proud of here!

  • You quoted two words from the parable in Like. Wow, you really need find better examples to make your point in the future.

  • @Dan Shap,

    “better examples” …

    “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring NOT PEACE BUT DIVISION.” – Jesus (Luke 12:49-51)

    “Hate your parents…hate your life, or you are not worthy of ME!” – Jesus (Luke 14:26)

    “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” – Jesus (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

    “I shall kill her children with Death” – Jesus>/b> (REV. 2:23)

    “…deem them unworthy..REMOVE your blessing of peace!” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

    “And why do you break the command of God? For God said…‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ ”- Jesus (Matthew 15:3)

    “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    “Prepare for battle, buy a sword” – JESUS (Luke 22:36-37)

    It is delusional to call this ‘love’.

  • “Religion is a legal public nuisance”

    Says the belief system that murdered at least one hundred MILLION people in the last century(see Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, etc).

    Nothing at all to be proud of here.

  • Christopher Johnson,

    “Says the belief system that murdered at least one hundred MILLION people in the last century(see Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, etc).”

    Messiahs and Miracles are intrinsic to religion! Not Atheism.

    Messiah Hitler – Catholic Jew Hater, colluded with the Catholic Church to exterminate Jews “in the name of Jesus Christ” for the ‘Aryan Angelic Master Race’ (Vatican-Nazi peace treaty Konkordat 1933).

    Messiah Stalin– Orthodox Christian Seminarian, ran an Agrarian Cult of Personality, enforced Miracles of Lysenko and seized Czar (a religious title).

    Messiah Pol Pot Theraveda Buddhist, ran an Agrarian Cult of Personality, enforced heavenly doctrine.

    Messiah Hirohito Cult of the Sun God ran the Kamikazee Faith-based Holy Army.

    Messiah Mussolini Cult of Personality, granted the Vatican rights which it still holds today.

    Messiahs are NOT examples of Atheism!

  • “Kill the Homosexuals” – GOD (Leviticus 20:13)

    Comes a point where people need to forget about Jesus and God and get on with normal life. No need exists for this nonsense.

  • Dear Father Morrisey,

    For your next article about “love”, why don’t you just quote a day’s worth of personals published in the “men seeking men” section of the Philadelphia edition of craigslist? They’re all so inspiring.