Organizations lobbying for LGBTQ inclusion in the Catholic Church say they are being shut out of the Pope’s visit to Ireland next month.
Pope Francis is scheduled to attend the World Conference of Families when the annual event convenes in Dublin on August 22. Despite assurances from Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin that all would be welcome during the Pope’s two-day visit, LGBTQ groups say their applications to participate have been ignored.
Organizers with We Are Church Ireland claim they submitted an application in February to table the event — even putting down a $1,100 deposit to secure their place. For five months, the conference has claimed their application has been “on hold.”
Meanwhile, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) says it has likewise been blackballed from the event. The international coalition of 32 LGBTQ Catholic groups applied for a booth in April but has yet to hear back about the status of their application. GNRC claims that spots are still available.
A spokesperson from the conference tells TheJournal.ie the applications have been held up because they “do not meet our stated criteria which was provided to them at the time of their application.” The official did not state what those criteria are.
GRNC says in a statement the group is “deeply dismayed and disappointed” by the decision and feels “completely ignored.”
“It was our hope that we could provide support to our fellow Catholics who have LGBTQ family members,” Co-Chair Ruby Almeida says in a statement. “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.”
“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,” adds fellow co-chair Christopher Vella. “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.”
Even if the conference were to allow them to participate at this late stage, Almeida claims they no longer would be able to partake.
“People needed to schedule time off from work and to arrange travel,” she states. “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.”
But as Vella notes, the exclusion of equality groups during the six-day event follows a “pattern of editing out LGBTQ voices.” The World Meeting of Families was met with controversy earlier this year after five photographs of same-sex couples were edited out of a brochure advertising the conference.
The reissued booklet also removed language calling on Catholics to accept LGBTQ couples, urging “love, care, and support” despite the religion’s teachings on homosexuality.
The LGBTQ groups have written to Archbishop Martin — as well as World Meeting of Families organizer Rev. Tim Bartlett and and Cardinal Kevin Farrell — to demand an explanation for the months-long delay. Martin, one of the highest-ranking Catholic officials in Ireland, has claimed the Pope would address LGBTQ issues during the visit.
Pope Francis’ views on LGBTQ acceptance have been met with a mixed reception in the past.