Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, made the remark Tuesday night to journalists covering a church conference in Rome, the paper reports. “I was deeply saddened by the result” of Friday’s vote in the majority Catholic country, he said. “The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelization. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.” His comments represent the Vatican’s first official reaction to the vote.
As secretary of state, Parolin ranks second only to Pope Francis, The Guardian notes, and he plays a key role “in crafting the church’s message on major diplomatic and social issues.” He has taken progressive positions on some issues, such as climate change and the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Parolin’s words contrast with the more measured response to the marriage vote by Diarmuid Martin, the Catholic archbishop of Dublin. Martin said he opposed the marriage measure but thought the widespread support for showed the church needed “a reality check.”
“Most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years,” Martin told Irish broadcaster RTE. “I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church.”
Parolin’s comments provide further evidence that despite Pope Francis’s often-conciliatory tone toward LGBT people, church doctrine isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Tuesday night, journalists also asked Parolin about reports that the Vatican had turned down France’s candidate for ambassador to the Holy See, Laurent Stefanini, because he is gay. Although some sources say Pope Francis personally rejected Stefanini, recently there have been rumors that the Vatican will accept him after all. Parolin said only that there is continuing dialogue between France and the Vatican, and he expressed hope that it would conclude in a “positive manner,” The Guardian reports.