LGBT and allied Roman Catholic Church staff may be keeping their perspective quiet in Florida (or facing discipline), but one gay Irish priest recently declared his identity loud and proud -- and got a standing ovation from his parishioners.
According to the Irish Sun,which broke the story, Father Martin Dolan came out as gay last weekend during a sermon in which he supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the Republic of Ireland, where a vote on the issue is slated for May. "I'm gay myself," he said. The Dublin archdiocese declined comment on the matter pending discussion with Dolan, who is away on a previously scheduled vacation, reports the Belfast Telegraph.
One of the congregants who expressed support for Dolan was Liz O'Connor, who told the Sun, "We are all very proud of Father Martin. Because he has admitted that he is gay he doesn't change the person that he was before it."
Marriage equality and other LGBT issues have proven to be hot topics in the Catholic Church over the past year, with some seeing Pope Francis as ushering in a "shift in tone," if not a "shift in teaching," as Father Gary Meier has put it. Meier is a gay priest who anonymously penned a book called Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest. The book was rereleased bearing Meier's name after he came out publicly in 2013. Late last year, he launched a nonprofit initiative called Rising Voices of Faith to advocate for LGBT equality in the church.
Similarly, New Ways Ministry executive director Francis DeBernardo, commenting on remarks the pope made in a December interview, previously told The Advocate that he thinks the pontiff is "changing the tone of the discussion. He hasn't changed any doctrine or policies ... but the fact that he's opened the discussion and opened it with such a welcoming tone is having a great effect in the Catholic world in terms of how people at the grassroots respond to LGBT people and issues."
DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke, though, had a less optimistic perspective on Pope Francis's remarks. Refererring to the recent traditional marriage summit, Duddy-Burke said that it seems as if right-wing interests are exerting pressure on the Vatican to maintain the status quo. Duddy-Burke has also said that LGBT "pilgrims" representing different kinds of families will attend the World Meeting of Families this year in Philadelphia, where they hope some of the families will land an audience with the pope.