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