A catholic priest in Ireland received a standing ovation from members of his congregation after announcing he is gay at the end of a sermon. Martin Dolan, who has served as an administrator, as well as a priest, at Church of St. Nicholas of Myra, Dublin, for as long as 15 years, urged his congregation to show support for same-sex marriage in the forthcoming Irish referendum.
He ended his appeal, saying:
“I am gay myself.”
Andre Hyland, co-director of Marriage Equality Ireland, told the media that even though he is not Catholic himself, he knows how popular Dolan is with members of his parish.
“Everyone was delighted he did it,” said Hyland, adding, “People are very much hopeful that he will stay in the parish… He is a man of real conviction and he doesn't back down… He speaks his mind.”
Reportedly, every person in Dublin was talking about Dolan’s coming out, expressing happiness over the fact that he had felt safe enough to declare he is gay.
Local community youth worker Liz O'Connor said, “Father Martin has always been an advocate of people's rights, and even spoke about child abuse in the Church.”
Ireland’s countrywide referendum on same-sex marriage is scheduled to take place at the end of May, though the exact day has not been decided as yet. According to a recent poll, over 70 percent of Irish people favour same-sex marriage and the trend has caused all four of the nation’s largest political parties to support the referendum as well.
Tiernan Brady, policy director of Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said, “There's no doubt there must have been a lot of trepidation in his mind, and the reaction must have been so heart-warming for him; to see your congregation give you a standing ovation and know that they got it and they appreciated it, and that they really wanted to show him that.”
He believes Dolan’s confession could lead to a huge knock-on effect in the country.
“I think the one thing that has always changed minds is visibility of lesbian and gay people, so when someone you know or someone in your family comes out, that's when your perspective changes,” he said. “That's always seen as the great catalyst for moving people towards understanding and empathizing… I think the standing ovation is wonderful, but it very visibly reflects what the laypersons of the Catholic Church feel.”
Hyland said Ireland’s reaction to Dolan’s coming out has proven to be emblematic and a sign of modernity. He noted even though the country’s population is predominantly Catholic, they do not seem to have a problem in accepting same-sex marriage.
“Away from the hierarchy,” Hyland said, “those things can co-exist very easily.”
Photo Credits: Vice News