It was a week of striking contrasts for gay and lesbian people in Ireland. Leo Varadkar made history by becoming the first Irish cabinet minister to come out as gay.

On the very same day, Pope Francis fired off a salvo of indignation at proponents of same-sex marriage as we prepare for our own referendum on the issue.

In an echo of more traditional church teachings that have by no means disappeared in Ireland, he warned that the redefinition of marriage “disfigures God’s plan for creation”. He said it was nothing less than a “threat to the family” and “a threat to society”.

Then, on Monday, there was a live debate on RTÉ about same-sex marriage; and on the same day we learned from an Equality Tribunal how a nun on a school interview panel was alleged to have asked a teacher: “What about the homos?”

A diminishing but still significant minority clings to the teachings of the catechism of the Catholic church, which brands gay sex as “acts of grave depravity” that are “intrinsically disordered”.

When Leo Varadkar came out to Miriam O’Callaghan live on radio, with an uncharacteristic nervousness in his voice, the move was welcomed overwhelmingly.

Are gay people still living in the shadows in Ireland?