…every generation is a continent to be conquered for Christ…

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from Catholic News Agency,

The Christian message can’t be shaken by a national vote, but Ireland’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage is forcing Catholic leaders to rethink how they have been keeping the faith alive among the nation’s young people.

“This vote has certainly changed the landscape in which the Church ministers in Ireland and the outcome offers it new and brave challenges,” said Dublin native Monsignor John Kennedy, speaking after Friday’s referendum to allow same-sex couples in Ireland to marry.

Msgr. Kennedy, an official of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told CNA in a May 25 email interview that he believed the pro same-sex marriage – or “Yes” – campaign was successful because of the sizable number of young voters who are in favor of the legislation.

“For Catholics it raises serious questions about the depth of faith and conscience formation, and the link between the practice of the faith and its relevance in and to society as a whole,” he said.

The monsignor’s observations about the influence of young voters are echoed in an interview given by Dublin’s archbishop Diarmuid Martin following the news that the referendum had passed.

“The Church needs a reality check right across the board, to look at the things we are doing well and look at the areas where we need to say, have we drifted away completely from young people?” the archbishop told RTE.

“Most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years,” Archbishop Martin said. “I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the Church.”

The results of Friday’s vote was 62 percent in favor of same-sex marriage, and 38 percent opposed.

While 18 other countries have already legalized same-sex marriage, Ireland is the first to adopt the law through popular vote.

Msgr. Kennedy said that while he did not think the “Yes” campaign was unstoppable, he was not surprised that the referendum passed in the end.

“The late Saint John Paul II once said that every generation is a continent to be conquered for Christ,” Msgr. Kennedy said. “I had some difficulty understanding the radical tone of his statement but now I appreciate what he meant.”

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