The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has said in response to two recent stories in Ireland regarding harassment based on sexuality, “Anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God.”
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Martin said, “They are not just homophobic if they do that—they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people.”
His comments came soon after a politician reported being spat at and harassed due to his sexuality, as well as after the TV station RTE was forced to pay out €85,000 (about $115,490 USD) in damages to the Catholic group Iona Institute after Irish drag queen Panti Bliss called them homophobic for advocating against marriage equality.
Gay rights activists fear that these stories could be a sign of stifled freedom of speech in the fight for marriage equality.
Martin did, however, clarify to the Irish Independent, “Just because a person isn’t in favour of gay marriage doesn’t mean that one is homophobic—let’s be very clear on that.”
He went on to say that the Irish community must look for a way to respect one another and live with differences. “We all belong to one another and there is no way we can build up a society in which people are excluded or insulted.”
He also said that the teachings of the Catholic church have at times been “used by some people in a homophobic way,” but Catholicism cannot be demonized because of those not acting in a Christian way.
“Anyone who grew up in Ireland would have told jokes that were pointed at the gay community…it is part of the culture we grew up in, but we have to grow out of it,” he said.
Martin urged believers to make their truth known not through harsh words but through the “gentle” tone of the Gospel.