The gay Co Clare Catholic priest Fr Bernárd Lynch has said the Catholic Church has done terrible damage to gay people by getting the message of God “very wrong”.
Fr Lynch was speaking four days after his marriage to long-term partner Billy Desmond in Spanish Point in west Clare last Friday.
In an interview on Clare FM’s, Morning Focus, Fr Lynch said the message of God is to love and to love one another.
He said the Catholic Church “does terrible damage and it is part of the destruction of gay people’s lives and how that can be Godly? How can that be Christ’s message? Who would choose to be gay? It is God given and our choice is to embrace it.”
Fr Lynch – who grew up in Ennis in the 1950s – became the first Catholic priest in the world to have a civil partnership in 2006.
The passing of the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 allowed the men to be married in Ireland last week.
Describing last Friday’s wedding as “wonderful”, Fr Lynch said he hopes that the witness that Billy and himself have given through their marriage tells young people that “it is okay to be gay. You are part of God’s design, no matter what your Church or religion says. You are normal and what you are called to do is to love and find a person to love.”
Fr Lynch came out as a gay priest in the 1980s and is no longer allowed to practice on behalf of the Catholic Church, but he said he continues to consider himself an ordained Catholic priest.