It’s comforting, I think, to realize that the U.S. isn’t the only Western nation that is in cultural upheaval over the gay marriage issue.
The Irish Government, for example, will be holding a referendum on same-sex marriage at the end of May, only two decades after homosexuality was decriminalized. Now polls suggest that almost 80% of the Irish people favor legalizing same-sex marriage. Kowabunga, or rather, Faith ‘n Begorrah!
Father Martin Dolan, the long-time priest at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Dublin’s city center for 15 years, called upon his congregations at the Saturday night Mass and Sunday morning service to support same sex marriage in the upcoming Irish vote. Then he announced that he was gay himself.
Dolan’s revelation received applause and a standing ovation.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for the day:
Was this conduct by the priest ethical?
I have some observations.
1. Since the Catholic Church does not approve of homosexuality, I believe that it is doubly unethical for a gay man to be a Catholic priest. First, it is dishonest, and second, it is hypocritical.
2. Announcing that he is gay is a good campaign tactic, as his parishioners presumably admire him, but it is making a national and cultural decision personal.
3. Father Dolan, being gay himself, has a personal interest in the result. He is therefore not an objective advocate, and as a priest, giving guidance to a congregation, he is obligated to be objective and without conflict.
4. Yes, it is more ethical for him to disclose his bias than not. It is still a bias, and still taints his judgment and credibility on the issue.
5. If this is a moral, religious issue, then Father Dolan has jurisdiction to provide his guidance and advice. If it is a political question, then he is abusing his power and influence, and that is irresponsible. This involves a vote that isn’t binding on any church, which means the referendum is a political issue, not a religious one.
6. Verdict: abuse of power.
7. Is it ethical for a priest to directly challenge Church teachings as an official, employee and figure of authority in the Church, with a public statement he knows would not be approved by his superiors? No. It is a betrayal of trust.
The priest’s advocacy was unethical.
Facts: Irish Central