Ireland’s Top Archbishop Says Church “Struggles to Find a Language” to Relate to LGBT People

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Speaking about the upcoming World Meeting of Families, Ireland’s top bishop has said the institutional Church struggles to relate to LGBT people and other people who do not conform to the magisterium’s ideal image of family.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland, who is the country’s Primate, made his comments in an interview with Crux. Martin (not to be confused with Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin) told the news outlet, “We want to believe that people all over the world will know that this is a country for welcoming.” He explained that the institutional Church seeks to present a “clear and positive vision of the family,” adding:

“‘This [communication] is difficult. . .The Catholic Church itself struggles to find a language by which it can relate to people, not just LGBT people but people who feel they have fallen short of the kind of vision or the kind of ideal of what Catholic marriage and family life is about.'”

Martin, a delegate to both the 2014 and 2015 sessions of the Synod on the Family, also commented on family during a recent address at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce. He called the magisterium’s understanding of family as a married heterosexual couple open to children “positive, liberating and humanizing.” Crux reported further:

“Somehow we have to find and propose to all families in all situations, the joy of commitment, fidelity, exclusivity, charity, justice, and care and development for children. . .in many ways, it’s a message that needs to [be] heard loud and clear.’ . . .

“That theme of being a country of welcome, Martin says, is what’s driving both the Church’s approach to the [abortion] referendum and the World Meeting of Families.

“He pointed to the Gaelic phrase Céad Míle Fáilte, which literally means ‘One hundred thousand welcomes,’ as something that characterizes his approach in particular, because he wants to advocate a philosophy that family should be a place of welcome.”

But Irish Catholics and LGBT advocates have continued to express their worries that the World Meeting of Families will not be a welcoming event. In recent months, LGBT-related images and text were removed from WMF preparatory materials and an Irish bishop now ministering in the U.S. was censored in a video for even acknowledging LGBT families exist. World Meeting of Families organizers have not answered questions about why these actions were taken. Among those leaders and organizations who have called for the Meeting to be inclusive of LGBT familes: Bishop Brendan Leahy, the former Irish president, Mary McAleese,the nation’s current prime minister who is gay, Leo Varadkar, the Irish Republic’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, the lay-led Association of Catholics in Ireland, and the church reform group We Are Church Ireland.

Several Irish bishops, whether specifically addressing the World Meeting of Families or not, have recognized the problematic means by which the institutional Church handles LGBT issues. Now is a moment for them make a difference. It is not too late for bishops both to speak out and to work behind the scenes to ensure the World Meeting of Families is the inclusive, welcoming event they desire it to be.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 20, 2018

10 replies
  1. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    For centuries one of the great efforts of the Vatican and many missionary orders was the work they performed to understand all of the languages in the world and used that skill as a means to further their spreading of salvation by first meeting with peoples in their own tongue. Now the Cardinal reveals it is difficult to find the right language to communicate with same sex loving individuals, couples and families. I am happy he admits to the current failure by the Church to be loving. Perhaps they have to want to give salvation with no preconditions. We are told they will know we are Christians by our love. How does forbidding the use of condoms by homosexuals as a means to reduce HIV transmission, or firing members of same sex couples in civil marriages who work for the Church, or forbidding homosexuals from being priests, or by calling who we are by antiquated hurtful terms, or removing any image that hints at the idea or homosexual families from the literature about a family conference, etc. show they want salvation for us or make the Church an image of love?

    As the missionaries found talking with people, not about them, created all of the good things the Church hoped to share. Don’t create standards with only self-loathing gay closeted clergy in the room. If we are all to love our neighbors like ourselves, we have to love ourselves first and too often that basic act of feeling the love God has for us has been missing in those who set boundries around the Church. Until the discussion is fully open there can be no sharing of language or understanding or love.

    Reply
  2. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    “The Catholic Church itself struggles to find a language by which it can relate to people, not just LGBT people but people who feel they have fallen short of the kind of vision or the kind of ideal of what Catholic marriage and family life is about.”

    I am baffled. What kind of language is Archbishop Martin looking for? Maybe he should start by ditching the term: “people who feel they have fallen short of the kind of vision or the kind of ideal of what Catholic marriage and family life is about.” And maybe he could start talking about people who are not interested in whether they fall short of a “vision,” but value who they are. And maybe he can stop looking at “a vision of an ideal,” which may be in itself skewed.

    The term “people who feel they have fallen short” sounds remarkably similar to the term “people who struggle with same sex attractions.” The archbishop could start by reevaluating whether it is is the “ideal” that is flawed, rather than the people.

    And maybe he could look at John’s statement that “God is love, and the person who abides in love abides in God, and God in them.” That would be a good point from which to start.

    Reply
    • Sisters Lea and Consilia
      Sisters Lea and Consilia says:

      Yes, yes, John…”The term “people who feel they have fallen short” sounds remarkably similar to the term “people who struggle with same sex attractions.” The archbishop could start by reevaluating whether it is is the “ideal” that is flawed, rather than the people.
      And maybe he could look at John’s statement that ‘God is love, and the person who abides in love abides in God, and God in them.’ That would be a good point from which to start.”

      Reply
  3. Anton
    Anton says:

    The first chapter of the gospel according to Matthew gives us the pedigree of the family of Jesus. It reads more like a modern family than what Archbishop Martin claims is the church’s definition. If the institutional churchMEN listened to the stories of LGBTQIA (CDEFHJK…) Catholics maybe the struggle to find a language would be easier, and like Jacob wrestling with the angel it would come out with a blessing. It’s already limping. And, yes, THANK YOU JOHN. The church is about REAL people not ideals. “The WORD became FLESH.” And thank you TOM, you’re right on, TOO!!

    Reply
    • Anton
      Anton says:

      Maybe that’s one of the problems – not very many people speak/understand Latin today. Modern languages for modern times; listen to people of the present not ONLY from the past. Cleopatra was/IS not the only “Queen of DeNIAL.” People who act like ostriches with their heads in the ground are very vulnerable in a certain part of their anatomy. Time to realize that planet earth is NOT the center of our universe. ALL people are created in God’s “image and likeness” – even if it takes some people longer to realize that. However, you’re right, Neal, LOVE is the universal language. Everyone understands it. Maybe that contributed to the problem: people for centuries prayed in a language nobody understood. Did God not understand their accent? LOL Supposedly his message of GOOD NEWS came to us in Greek. Could it be that something/a lot was “lost in translation?” I keep wondering.

      Reply

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