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Considerable surprise has been expressed around the world about the fact that traditionally conservative and Catholic Ireland approved same-sex marriage in a referendum May 22 by a majority of nearly two to one.

The fact is, Ireland is no longer a Catholic country in the old sense. Much of the state's urban population is what we call here "cultural Catholics" -- that is, they like to have baptisms and funerals in the local Catholic church, but are no longer regular mass-goers.

And the true believers who still make up a sizable portion of the population no longer feel obliged to obey the edicts of the bishops, who last Sunday opposed the "yes" vote from the pulpits.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Irish have become the first people in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by referendum. It’s an astonishing statement about the pace of cultural change in a country where more than 80 percent of residents identify as Catholic. It’s also a hopeful development for gays and lesbians in other nations: Countries with strong religious opposition to homosexuality can evolve.

The Irish referendum is notable for another reason: It further erodes the original justification for partition between a Protestant majority in the north and a Catholic majority in the south. In the decade before the island was split in 1920, northern Protestants threatened to take up arms against the British government if it granted Ireland the kind of home-rule powers that many in Scotland now seek.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ireland’s Marriage Equality Moment

On a Sunday in May, a reporter for The Irish Times went looking for religious people who might be expected to oppose same-sex marriage. The issue is a hot topic in Ireland because on Friday the nation votes in a referendum that, if passed, will enshrine marriage equality in the Constitution.

The reporter engaged an older woman after Mass at Dublin’s main Catholic cathedral. “I’m just going to vote for gay people because I have nothing against them,” the woman, Rita O’Connor, told the journalist. “I can’t understand why anybody is against it.” And she dismissed the church’s opposition: “It’s a stupid carry-on.”…  Seguir leyendo »