Two Glorious Triumphs For Catholic Laity:The Beatification of Msgr Romero and Marriage Equality in Ireland

A blessed Pentecost to all! May the Holy Spirit that inspired and equipped the disciples, the women and men gathered in that place long ago, to proclaim the Gospel everywhere, ignite the church today into proclaiming the Gospel of God’s great love,  compassion and inclusion with social and economic justice for all.

Today,the day before we celebrate Pentecost,  is a great day in the history of what people can do together! Here is Francis De Bernardo’s Blog on the two victories of the day:  the Beatification of Msgr. Oscar Romero and Marriage Equality in Ireland-The only word to add is : AMEN!

The following is the statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry, on the occasion of Ireland voting to legalize marriage for lesbian and gay couples:

Today, headlines around the world announced Catholic news from two different parts of the globe, which may seem disparate, but which share an important common theme.

Crowds outside Dublin Castle celebrate Ireland’s marriage equality victory.

In Ireland, one of the most Catholic nations on earth, hundreds of thousands voted overwhelmingly in a general referendum to enact marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples.

In El Salvador, a strongly Catholic nation, hundreds of thousands turned out for beatification ceremonies for Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was martyred 35 years ago while celebrating Mass.

What do these two stories have in common?   In both cases, the opinion of Catholic lay people has won the day, even when the church’s hierarchy opposed both developments.  In both cases, the sense of the faithful overcame institutional fears and customs.  In both cases, Catholic ideals were articulated and lived out by the laity.

In Ireland, the Catholic bishops spoke out consistently against the establishment of marriage equality.  Their statements have been documented here on this blog.  But lay people insisted that allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry was consistent with Catholic principles of equality, fairness, human dignity, and family stability.

In El Salvador, lay people instantly declared Romero as a saint at the time of his death, but his cause for canonization was hindered during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI because Vatican officials feared any possible endorsement of liberation theology.  But lay people, especially those who were living in poverty, insisted that Romero, who defended their rights and human dignity fearlessly, was indeed worthy of veneration as a martyr.

Crowds gather for the beatification Mass for Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

In both of these cases, the prayers and work of lay people have won out over hierarchical reluctance.

New Ways Ministry prays with joy for both nations for their courage and determination to bring about justice and Catholic ideals into the public square.

There is still work to be done in both cases. In El Salvador, the advancement towards canonizing Romero as a saint must still be completed. The support of Pope Francis in this case may help to speed up the process.

In Ireland, the Catholic Church there needs to learn to work together once again–hierarchy and laity.  There will be pastoral work needed to help unite Catholics who were opposed during the marriage equality campaign.  U.S. bishops who have been involved in marriage equality debates have yet to do this type of work, and our church is hurting and losing much of the faithful because of omission of this step.

In Ireland, the job may be a bit lighter because the hierarchy’s leader, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (vice- president of the nation’s bishops conference) has been extremely courteous in their opposition to marriage equality.  While maintaining consistent and strong opposition to marriage equality, he also voiced respect for those who held a different opinion.  He worked hard for his position, but he worked even harder to make sure that those who disagreed with him would not be alienated from the Church.

Congratulations and prayerful thanks to the Catholics of Ireland who have shown what we here in the U.S. have known for a long time:  that Catholic lay people support marriage equality because they are Catholic, not in spite of being Catholic.

Congratulations and prayerful best wishes to the Catholics of El Salvador who have shown that the preferential option for the poor is a pillar of Catholicism and that our church should honor those who live out that principle even in the face of violent opposition.

Yesterday was a day when, to paraphrase Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  the arc of the moral universe bent a little more toward justice.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

2 responses to “Two Glorious Triumphs For Catholic Laity:The Beatification of Msgr Romero and Marriage Equality in Ireland”

  1. patricia says :

    Oh no! Not all the lay Catholics support what you’ve deemed as the “marriage equality” movement. The marriage equality act is a Grand Design ” by a minority of participants in same sex unions to legitimize that which is not ORDAINED by God as marriage or a grace filled sacrament. Let’s call a spade a spade.! Same sex civil unions whether legalized legitimized and accepted by the secular society are NOT marriages as ordained by God. God set up specific guidelines for marriages and same sex unions were not described as marriages in his guidelines. Just like Jesus told the woman caught in adultery…go and sin no more. . same sex unions fit the description of that which is biblically described as sin and even an abomination to God. While as a PRACTICING CATHOLIC I can certainly empathize with a. Persons desire to have a life partner companion and mate SAME sex union is in direct violation of the Christian faith and its teaching. ” Neither do I condemn you …

    What’s next ? Legalizing Poligamy ? Legalizing kiddy porn or the selling of child brides? Violating the EQUALITY rights of heterosexual Christians who own small businesses by forcing them to participate in GAY weddings or be taken to court and fined or imprisoned?

    Suing heterosexuals fining imprisonong and bashing them because they do NOT support or condone behavior they find repugnant, repulsive and yes even sinful ?

    Where do your GLBT rights to EQUALITY end and MY Normal healthy well balanced heterosexual male female relationship rights to equality begin?

    • judyabl says :

      Patricia,
      We will pray for you on this Feast of Holy Pentecost that the Spirit of our living God, which is Love, will fill you and open your heart and mind in new ways. Loving one group is not hating another, all are to be loved.
      In Christ’s love,
      Pastor Judy

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