LGBT people are being shut out of events for the Pope’s visit to Ireland
A second Catholic LGBT group has come forward to allege that it is being prevented from taking part in the World Meeting of Families event, which is set to be attended by the Pope.
The World Meeting of Families meeting that is set to take place in Ireland in August has been marred by repeated disputes over LGBT families.
Despite Irish PM Leo Varadkar insisting that LGBT families should be welcomed at the event, organisers removed all references to same-sex parents from booklets produced ahead of the event, while LGBT Catholic groups say they have been blocked from taking part in the conference.
Following public allegations from pro-LGBT Catholic group We Are Church Ireland, a second Catholic LGBT group has this week come forward to allege they have been shut out of the event, which will be attended by the Pope.
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which represents 32 LGBTI Catholic groups from around the world, said its own application for an exhibit booth appears to have been blocked.
Ruby Almeida, Co Chair of GNRC, said: “Attempts to get a response about our exhibit booth from World Meeting of Families officials have been very frustrating.
“We feel completely ignored. It was our hope that we could provide support to our fellow Catholics who have LGBTI family members.
“Many families have questions about how to best support gay and transgender family members, what the Church really teaches about us, and how and why we choose to remain Catholics.
“Our hope was to provide a place where these families can have honest conversations with people who have dealt with the same questions, to provide them resources, and to help them connect with people in their own countries who might be able to provide ongoing support. We have much to offer to them, as well as to Church leaders responsible for ministering to all kinds of families.”
Almeida continued: “Due to the delay and the repeated refusal of those in charge to give us an approval, it is no longer practical for us to do this outreach.
“People needed to schedule time off from work and to arrange travel. The foot-dragging means that we will not be able to provide support to our fellow Catholics through an outreach booth at World Meeting of Families.”
Christopher Vella, Co-Chair of GNRC, added: “The reality is that LGBTI people and families are part of the Church.
“There are millions of Catholics who are LGBTI, and hundreds of millions who have LGBTI family members.
“They deserve effective ministry and pastoral care, just like everyone else in our Church. Church officials don’t have all the answers—many have questions themselves. We are willing to be a resource for these families and for Church leaders. It is tragic that our assistance and expertise are not welcomed with enthusiasm.”
Vella added: “This seems to follow a historical pattern of editing-out LGBTI voices and Catholic LGBTI stories, the faith-filled voices of our loving Catholic families and affirming church communities.
“We believe that officials at the World Meeting of Families did not want to deal with further controversy related to the inclusion of Catholic LGBTI realities.
“Rather than face the fallout from a decision, they stalled and ignored our request. This lack of consideration for the needs of potential attendees has inconvenienced and frustrated us. We expect better of our Church.”
The group has written to Rev. Tim Bartlett, the head of the World Meeting of Families 2018 planning team, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, President of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
However it says “to date, it has not received any form of answer or acknowledgement.”
The account echoes We Are Church Ireland, which went public earlier this week to allege that the group is “being refused an exhibition stand” at the event “because WAC Ireland stands for the full equality of Women and LGBTQI people.
We Are Church Ireland said: “Almost fortnightly, we have rung the WMoF inquiring about the status of our application. The constant reply has been: ‘Yes, we received your application but it is on hold’.
“Upon inquiring as to when a decision on our application would be made we were told that it was up to those at the executive level to inform us.
“The lack of the most basic courtesy in dealing with our application, made in good faith, shows a serious lack of respect to WAC Ireland and is a total contradiction to the advertised ‘all are welcome’ inclusivity of the WMoF, which continues with its stealth tactics used already against gay people by erasing pictures of LGBTQI couples from its official brochure earlier this year.”
Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter’s Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on. (Franco Origlia/Getty)The group spokesperson Brendan Butler added: “This refusal by the WMoF to engage with We Are Church Ireland and in effect to reject our application shows a closed and exclusive mentality which contradicts Pope Francis’s constant calls for dialogue in the Catholic Church.”
Organisers have not responded to any of the the allegations.
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Earlier this year Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who is gay, intervened in the issue to express a hope that LGBT families would also be celebrated at the event.
He said: “The Government is very much of the view that there are many different types of families and that all types should be celebrated, including the traditional nuclear family with the man married to the woman with children, but also one-parent families, families led by grandparents, and families led by same-sex couples.
“We will make it known in our meetings with the organisers that in line with our commitment to personal liberty and equality before the law, the Government’s view is that families in all their forms should be celebrated.”
His comments were supported by Ireland’s former President Mary McAleese, a devout Catholic and a strong advocate for LGBT rights.