Ron and Mavis Parilo, a long-married couple from Sydney, had the honor of speaking at the Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops on the Family on Monday, and took the opportunity to school the (hopefully) celibate men on the wonders of sex. The parents of four credit their 55-year marriage to their sexual attraction to one another.
“The little things we did for each other, the telephone calls and love notes, the way we planned our day around each other and the things we shared were outward expressions of our longing to be intimate with each other,” the pair said in a joint statement. “Gradually we came to see that the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centered relationship is sexual intimacy, and that marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse.”
“The audience of celibate men was a bit taken aback,” the AP reports. A British cardinal told reporters that, “That’s not what we bishops talk about mostly, quite honestly.”
But the Pirolos didn’t stop there. They also told the prelates that Catholic teachings on family felt outdated, that a divorced friend felt marginalized in her parish, and told the story of devout friends welcoming their gay son and his partner home for Christmas, highlighting the split between Catholic laypeople and church doctrine on the issue of homosexuality. The British cardinal, Vincent Nichols, told the AP that the gathered crowd applauded after their speech.