The last time a pope visited Ireland, homosexuality was a crime. Now the Irish prime minister is gay.

In 2015, when Leo Varadkar was serving as Ireland’s health minister, he came out as a gay man on national radio.

The country was preparing to vote in a same-sex marriage referendum, and Varadkar told the radio host that his sexuality is “not a secret, but it’s not something that everyone would necessarily know.”

He also said, “It’s not something that defines me.”

Two-and-a-half years later, Varadkar, whose father was an Indian immigrant, was named prime minister. He is Ireland’s first openly gay leader, the first leader from a minority background and, at 38 at the time of his appointment, the country’s youngest prime minister.

On Saturday, Varadkar welcomed Pope Francis to Ireland, a nation that has radically changed since the last papal visit, in 1979. At that time, homosexuality was still a crime. Now, the country’s prime minister is gay.

Varadkar is a distinct example of how what was once an overwhelmingly white, Catholic nation is now increasingly diverse and its laws increasingly secular. Ireland is the first country to have legalized same-sex marriage through a popular vote, and this year, the country repealed its restrictive abortion ban. Many see the country’s new policies and shifting demographics as evidence that the Irish are moving further and further away from the Catholic Church. Read more via Washington Post