Irish Catholic priest marries long-term boyfriend in touching service

‘a beautiful ceremony’

Fr Bernard Lynch and Billy Desmond became ‘husband and husband’ at the ceremony in Co Clare

THESE were the scenes of sheer joy today as the gay priest who was involved in the first ‘boat to vote’ campaign in the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015 wed his long-term partner.

More than 120 well- wishers looked on as Fr Bernard Lynch married Billy Desmond at the Armada Hotel at Spanish Point, Co Clare.

The marriage of former priest Dr Bernárd Lynch(left) to Billy Desmond took place in the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Co. Clare

There room erupted in applause after the two were pronounced “husband and husband”.

Fr Lynch, who grew up in Ennis in the 1950s, became the first Catholic priest in the world to enter into a civil partnership — in 2006.

The passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum allowed the two to be married on Friday.

The booklet for the ceremony was called “Our Right to Love is our Right to Justice – Billy and Bernard”.

A proclamation was read out paying tribute to Fr Lynch “for being a tireless advocate for the right of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people for more than 40 years as an out gay and proud Catholic priest”.

The happy couple embrace

The tribute told how 67-year-old Lynch sustained the first AIDS ministry in New York City in the early 1980s helping thousands of people “in the darkest years of the HIV pandemic”.

It stated that Fr Lynch how healed the AIDS victims’ spirits and reconciling them with their fate and their families guiding them through their deaths and celebrating their short lives.

One person at the wedding said yesterday that “the love in the room was palpable. It was a beautiful ceremony,” while another said “the love between the two was magic and oozed spirituality”.

Fr Lynch first came out a gay man in 1986 when he was ministering in New York City.

In a press interview, he said: “If I did lie, if I did pretend, I’d have a job. I could even have a lover on the side…I didn’t come out publicly until 1986. As soon as I went public, I lost my job.”

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