Catholic bishops fought hard against the legalization of gay marriage in Ireland. But at least some Catholic priests — in a sign of the Church’s decreasing authority there — have defied their leaders and voted with the majority for legalization.
“A lot of practicing Catholics are voting yes, and it’s no different in the clergy,” the Rev. Tim Hazelwood, 56, a parish priest in County Cork, told The Washington Post this week. He was also quoted in The New York Times, the Irish Times, and other news outlets.
At last weekend’s Masses, Hazelwood told parishioners from the pulpit that he would defy the bishops on the vote. “We didn’t get much leadership from our leaders. I was hearing cold and clinical arguments against gay marriage, and what they said didn’t represent my view of Gospel values at all,” Hazelwood, a psychotherapist who counsels gay parishioners, told the Post.
He said he knows of at least four fellow priests who voted for legalization and estimated that one in 10 priests voted for it nationwide. “They would share my view that Ireland and the Church have caused gay people a lot of unnecessary hurt and pain, and it’s time for that to stop,” he said.
The Church had argued in Ireland, as it has here, that gay marriage would undermine traditional marriage as a pillar of society. Its arguments clearly did not move a majority of voters in this predominantly Catholic country. Church influence has waned dramatically, however, since news of its systemic cover-up of clergy sexual abuse of children became well documented in recent years.