What a gift the Catholic hierarchy has been handed by the Irish with their overwhelming vote to legalize same sex marriages. Coming just months before the Synod on the Family set for next October in Rome, the vote by this Catholic nation is nothing less than a church plebiscite – a vote of the Catholic sensus filelium for all to see that official Catholic teaching on human sexuality is wrong, hurtful, and even, at times, immoral.
A recent NCR editorial states the situation succinctly. It reads in part
It is time for church teaching to reflect what social science tells us and what Catholic families have long understood: Catholicism must cast off a theology of sexuality based on a mechanical understanding of natural law that focuses on individual acts, and embrace a theology of sexuality that has grown out of lived experience and is based on relationships and intentionality.
The Irish vote is a wake up call. If the Synod on the Family ends with only a “pastoral” conclusion, a call that we all need “to open our selves and parishes" to essentially wayward, sinners, that we need to love these “sinners” even as they continue to engage in “intrinsically disordered acts,” it will have failed all of us and the synod, despite the best intentions, will almost certainly end up further eroding - if this is possible - the Catholic church as a moral force on matters of family, human relationship and sexual theology.
It is time we remember: Our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters are people, just like the rest of us. Some more generous; others less so. Some more enlightened; others less so. Some more sinful; others less so. Just people, saints and sinners and in-between.
Can the Catholic hierarchy finally admit it has Catholic sexual teachings wrong? Admittedly, it’s a tall order. I admire Pope Francis enormously. However, just withholding judgment without addressing and amending past teaching errors will not be enough. Nowhere near enough.
Bishops, you have been served.