The Vatican’s synod on family is underway, and it’s not exactly going as planned. In a surprise that clearly discomforted a number of bishops, an Australian couple hand-chosen to talk to the bishops about the importance of marriage gave an impromptu lecture about the importance of loving gay people–and about sex.
Ron and Mavis Pirola, an Australian couple, have been married for 55 years. They have four children and eight grandchildren and are practicing Catholics. In short, everything the Vatican would like to tout as the ideal couple. So no doubt, the couple’s statement at the synod was about as welcome as a, well, a gay couple.
“Friends of ours were planning their Christmas family gathering when their gay son said he wanted to bring his partner home too,” the Pirolas recounted to the 200 assembled bishops (and one nun). “They fully believed in the Church’s teachings and they knew their grandchildren would see them welcome the son and his partner into the family. Their response could be summed up in three words, ‘He’s our son’.”
Not content to stop there, the Pirolas then told the bishops that they should follow that example: “What a model of evangelization for parishes as they respond to similar situations in their neighborhood! It is a practical example of what the Instrumentum Laboris [the Synod’s working document] says concerning the Church’s teaching role and its main mission to let the world know of God’s love.”
But that wasn’t all. The Pirolas also spoke eloquently about the joy of sex, which had the group of (presumably) celibate clerics squirming. “Gradually we came to see that the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centred relationship is sexual intimacy, and that marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse,” the couple said.
As for Church teaching on sexual matters, the Pirolas politely described it as “from another planet.”
The bishops somehow mustered a round of applause for the Pirolas, though perhaps it was an attempt to get them to shut up. What the episode proved, however, is that the Vatican is out of touch with many of its most faithful members. The question is, will it deign to do anything about it?