06 October 2014, The Tablet

Parishes should welcome gay couples, married couple tells synod

by Christopher Lamb in Rome

A married couple has told Pope Francis and bishops attending the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that parishes should welcome gay couples in what could be seen as a “model of evangelisation”.

Ron and Mavis Pirola, who have been married for 57 years, told the synod how friends of theirs welcomed their gay son and his partner one Christmas.

“Take homosexuality as an example. Friends of ours were planning their Christmas family gathering when their gay son said he wanted to bring his partner home too,” they said in their submission this afternoon in the synod hall. “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’.”

The couple added: “What a model of evangelisation for parishes as they respond to similar situations in their neghbourhood! 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.”

The couple are former members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and run the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council.

Married with four children and eight grandchildren, the couple spoke about how important faith had been to their marriage.

But they said that Church documents on the matter seemed to be from “another planet” and were not relevant to their experiences.

On Humanae Vitae ­­– Pope Paul VI’s encyclical that re-iterated the Church’s ban on artificial contraception – the couple said there was a need for married couples to connect sexual intimacy with spirituality.

“We believe that until married couples come to reverence sexual union as an essential part of their spirituality it is extremely hard to appreciate the beauty of teachings such as those of Humanae Vitae. We need new ways and relatable language to touch people's hearts,” they said.

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