Even a cursory glance at the global map of gay marriages throws up a pressing question for the Catholic Church. Staunchly Catholic countries such as Brazil, Austria and Poland all permit some form of civil partnership between same-sex couples. And several countries with overwhelmingly Catholic populations, including Spain, Portugal and Argentina, have gone a step further by legalising homosexual partnerships on the same basis as heterosexual ones.
It is clear that many Roman Catholics are as out of step with Rome on the question of gay sexuality as they are on that of contraception. Opinion polls in several countries have shown that many Catholics disagree with their leaders' doctrinal insistence that homosexuals are "intrinsically disordered". Often even devout Catholics are reluctant to allow such prejudices to influence national legislation. It is time that the shepherds caught up with their flock.