In the wake of Ireland’s vote to legalize gay marriage, Paul Elie takes a moment to urge the Church to check itself before it wrecks itself:
Now what the church needs is a message check – a truth check. Because what is made clear by the vote in Ireland – where the church has enjoyed every advantage and opportunity to promulgate “its” position for many decades – is that the problem isn’t the church’s ability to connect with young people and communicate “its” message.
The problem is the message. What the church calls “its” message on sexuality is no longer credible, and, in important ways, it is no longer “its” message. It’s no stretch to say that the church is simply not living in truth (in Vaclav Havel’s expression) when it comes to human sexuality.
It took a third of a century…for the church to recognize the simple fact that there is much that is true in the theology of liberation – a third of a century in which Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, made every effort to insist otherwise.
In the same third of a century John Paul and Ratzinger made every effort to deny the simple fact that there is much that is true in sexuality and family life outside of traditional marriage.
One the one hand, the Church’s rather fearsome stance on sexuality does seem to be a stumbling block for lots of folks. On the other, I don’t know if you want to hold the Church in Ireland up as a model or exemplar or microcosm or anything else when it comes to matters sexual. It strikes me as being very much its own place.