Vatican Calls Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Vote A "Defeat For Humanity"

In the modern world, Ireland has been one of the last European strongholds for the Catholic Church, so you can imagine how the cardinals in Rome felt when the results from Ireland's historic referendum on same-sex marriage were announced Saturday. A senior Vatican official harshly criticized Ireland's same-sex marriage referendum, calling the results a "defeat for humanity." Some would think the Catholic hierarchy should have seen it coming — after all, Ireland has rolled back much of its Catholic laws over the last 25 years, including bans on divorce and contraception. Maybe the hierarchy did see it coming, but a punch in the gut is still a punch in the gut, right?

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who serves as the Vatican's secretary of state, echoed the recent words of Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin: The vote was indeed a "reality check" for the Catholic hierarchy. But Parolin went further, condemning the vote and what he believes to be its ultimate, blasphemous message.

Parolin told reporters at a conference Tuesday night:

This result left me feeling very sad but as the Archbishop of Dublin [Diarmuid Martin] pointed out, the Church will have to take this reality on board in the sense of a renewed and strengthened evangelization. I believe that we are talking here not just about a defeat for Christian principles but also about a defeat for humanity.

This is the first public reaction from the Vatican regarding the "Yes" vote on the referendum. Pope Francis has not yet made any public remarks.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Parolin's remarks aren't too unusual for a high-ranking Catholic clergy, of course; Catholic doctrine does not believe being gay is a sin, but it forbids its followers from acting upon their homosexual "thoughts" and feelings. The church also eschews the term "gay," because it's seen as fostering a certain lifestyle, preferring instead the phrase "same-sex attraction." For gay Catholics, they must live a life of chastity, or else they are engaging in sinful behavior.

Yet a progressive movement has been burgeoning within the Catholic laity — from Ireland to the United States — and the recent Irish referendum shows the growing calls for gay rights has been much louder than the hierarchy's calls for "evangelization."

Censured Irish priest Tony Flannery, who has long supported gay marriage, contraception, and the ordination of women to the priesthood, wrote in a recent blog post that there were a few lessons the Catholic Church should learn from the referendum vote — but evangelization is not one of them.

"We need a period of at least a generation, when the Church authorities says nothing about sex," Flannery wrote. "Then they will have a chance to speak about the far more basic aspects of the Christian message — love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion — and have a chance of being heard. Francis is showing the way; we must all follow, if we have any hope of making the Gospel message relevant again."

Images: Getty Images (1)