Today, we are living in a world where there are not many influential people left to challenge the prevailing current of thought about gay people and the institution of marriage. That’s why it is amazingly refreshing to see one of the world’s most influential authority from the Vatican — Cardinal Pietro Parolin — going completely ballistic and not mincing his words when asked about the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland.

I believe that we are talking here not just about a defeat for Christian principles but also about a defeat for humanity,” the Vatican’s Secretary of State told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Rome. “I was deeply saddened by the result,” he added.

Ireland became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote after a referendum found that 62% of voters were in favour of changing the constitution to allow gay and lesbians to marry. (in United States, the gay marriage has already been legalised in some states through either a referendum or a court decision). In France, a few months ago, the parliament passed a law legalising the same sex marriage,  sponsored by a socialist government.

The irish referendum is seen, by many, as a huge defeat for the Catholic Church in a country where some 85% of the population has a christian faith — even though the catholic church has grown markedly less popular because of its handling of child sexual abuse by its priests and its hardline anti-abortion and anti-gay rights positions.

Following the vote, Irish church officials said its outcome should prompt a round of soul searching. “This is a social revolution,” the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, told the press. “The church has a huge task […] It needs to get its message across to young people… The church needs to do a reality check.”

We tend to think of black and white but most of us live our lives in grey,” the archbishop added.

Unlike the archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Parolin’s comments were particularly striking because they came from a senior aide to Pope Francis, who took the helm of the church in 2013 and has since tried to steer the catholic institution away from divisive sexual questions and refocus its attention on the world’s poor.

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis said in 2013.

For the mainstream media and the opinion leaders, That remark spurred hope among progressive Catholics that the church was entering a new era of tolerance and acceptance of gay people. What the joyful in hope did forget to underline was [and still is…] that the Catholic church is first and foremost a moral institution. As such, its role is to stay true to its principles. The Catholic church has, for that matter, the duty to stand tall to the influence of the outside world.

A perfect illustration of that attitude is the refusal by the Vatican to accept the fanciful nomination of an agitator as France’s ambassador to the Holy See, recently.

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