Ireland has been a heavily Catholic nation historically, and Catholics have become more LGBT-supportive in recent years, and particularly in recent weeks. Below, Bondings 2.0 offers a round up of several Catholic LGBT stories emerging from Eire.
Catholic Students Stand Out in Pride Parade
Students from St. Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, Northern Ireland, participated in local Pride celebrations last weekend, led by principal and noted proponent of Catholic education Jarlath Burns. St. Paul’s is one of the country’s largest secondary schools and their delegation during the Newry parade in County Armagh is thought to be a first. Upperclass students received an invitation to march in the parade via the school’s Facebook page, which noted:
” ‘We are proud to be a school that embraces diversity and promotes inclusivity, further demonstrating commitment to our Catholic ethos…The rainbow flag will be flown at the school to mark our support for equality for all.’ “
Burns, facing some criticism, explained his decision to the Irish Independent saying:
” ‘We just wanted to walk to show solidarity with what is a marginalised group in our society, to show them compassion, dignity and respect’…
” ‘Schools should not be places where students are ridiculed or made feel isolated…We are proud to be a Catholic school and it because of that we decided to walk as a group and give Christian witness’…
” ‘It may have been controversial but we have to challenge ourselves and the status quo…We can’t be bound by tradition. It’s in that context that we decided to march and I’m very proud of what we did.’ “
This latest news comes as Irish Catholic schools awaken to the problem of LGBT bullying, with many religious institutions in the Republic of Ireland already participating in the government’s “Stand Up! Awareness Week” and implementing LGBT education into curricula.
If you’re on Facebook, you can view further photos of St. Paul students marching by clicking here. If you’re on Twitter, consider thanking St. Paul’s Bessbrook (@StPaulsBBrook) for its inclusive witness, and also thank Burns (@jburns832) for his ongoing leadership.
Dubliners March for Marriage Equality
Irish Catholics were among the thousands who marched through Dublin in support of marriage equality earlier this month, reports NewsTalk. The march comes as the Republic of Ireland prepares for a constitutional referendum on the issue to be held early next year, with early polls indicating only 20% of voters opposing legal recognition for same-gender couples. Marriage equality is also supported by Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny and several high-profile ministers. The Irish Catholic bishops oppose the measure and have threatened to withdraw from civil marriage processes if it passes, though many observers believe their influence in Irish politics is limited and wanes further as time progresses.
McAleese Advertisement Banned
Former Irish President Mary McAleese has routinely condemned the church’s hierarchy for their approach to and teachings on homosexuality, calling for Catholics to rethink sexual ethics in light of modern science and knowledge. For this, and her support of women’s ordination, an Australian Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Weekly, has banned advertisements for McAleese’s upcoming appearance at Sydney’s “Catalyst for Renewal,” an event focused on the discussion of Catholic issues later this month. Irish Central reports that the paper’s editor Peter Rosengren said that neither he nor the Church “see homosexuality as a sin.” The newspaper article noted that Rosengren added:
“. . .that having once employed a gay person at his newspaper he believed he had achieved a special degree of insight into homosexuality.”
In a related note, Irish Americans can now celebrate a more inclusive St. Patrick’s Day in 2015 as the New York City parade will feature an explicitly LGBT contingent and be led by Cardinal Dolan who said he welcomed the decision. For Irish Catholics of all types, the rainbows of inclusion and welcome continue to grow and grow!
Stay tuned for another post with good news from Ireland later this week!
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry