Pietro Parolin

After Ireland publicly legalized same-sex marriage, a Cardinal called the decision a “defeat for humanity,” and the Vatican stands behind him.

Ireland’s recent referendum to legalize same sex marriage ended with victory for those supporting same-sex marriage. As the proponents of LGBT rights celebrated, the Catholic Church has expressed its disappointment with the results. The referendum was seen as a culmination of a four decade struggle for gay rights and makes Ireland the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. 62% of the voters voted for the amendment of the constitution to allow same sex marriages. Speaking at a press conference in Italy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, an official of the Vatican, said he was very saddened and described the result not just a “defeat for Christianity principles but a defeat for humanity.”

His views were the first harsh criticism the referendum results have faced from the Catholic Church. In a country that is predominantly Catholic, this response portrays the gap between the church and its faithful. Indeed Cardinal Parolin was aware of this growing divide as his statement also urged the church to appreciate the reality and not give in to currently prevailing opinions but to increase its commitment to evangelizing and reaching out. His statements may have come as a surprise to those who thought the Vatican was easing its stance regarding same sex relationships especially following Pope Francis’ “who am I to judge” statement regarding homosexuality.

However, Vatican’s senior spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi confirmed the Cardinal’s statement and said that the Vatican agreed with the Cardinal’s sentiments. When Cardinal Pietro Parolin made statement, the Pope was evangelizing on the theme of the family which the Catholic Church feels has come under attack. In his weekly Wednesday exhortations, Pope Francis focused on engagement and preparations for marriage which he termed as a lifelong “covenant of love between man and woman.”

As Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin is the Vatican’s Secretary of State and a chief adviser to the pope. He was appointed to the position of Secretary of State by Pope Francis on 31st August 2013 becoming the youngest secretary of state since 1929 at the age of 58. Pope Francis named him Cardinal-Priest of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela on 22nd February 2014. He has served the Pope’s office as a diplomat for over 20 years and is a member of several councils at the Vatican.

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