As preparations continue for August’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin, former Irish President and practicing Catholic Mary McAleese remains committed to showing her support for LGBTQ communities by marching in June 30th’s Pride parade in Ireland’s capital. She will be in attendance with her son, Justin McAleese, and his husband.
“She said she will be taking part in the march with ‘my gay son and his wonderful husband,’ as well as her husband, daughters, some of her brothers and sisters and maybe even her elderly mother – if they can organize a wheelchair for her.
“ ‘We are family and that is what we will be showcasing – showcasing Ireland at its absolute best,’ she said.”
Dublin’s Pride Parade is themed ‘We are Family’, a selection intentionally chosen to respond to the World Meeting of Families. Brendan Butler, a leader of We Are Church Ireland, a Catholic reform group, has welcomed the theme for it’s connection to the Vatican-sponsored event, while also calling for greater action. Butler writes:
“We Are Church Ireland welcomes the Dublin Pride Festival’s adoption of the theme ‘We Are Family’ for this year’s celebration and we would ask all Catholic families and people of Faith to support this year’s festival that recognizes the inherent dignity of every person irrespective of gender orientation.”
As reported by Pink News, this year’s Pride March will be the first McAleese has participated in, though she has emerged in recent years as a strong LGBTQ advocate. She was a vocal advocate in favor of marriage equality during Ireland’s referendum in 2015, saying that the Yes vote would “right a glaring wrong.” She has also stated that she will not be attending the World Meeting of Families.
In 2013, former President McAleese received a licentiate in canon law from Gregorian University, and has worked to put use her knowledge of Catholic thought toward working for greater equality between the church and queer communities. In a statement responding to the church’s disavowal of an annual International Women’s Day event through Voices of Faith, McAleese then stated that “a Church that is homophobic and anti-abortion is not the church of the future,” continuing with the discussion of gender equality in the church and wondering, “Can this tragic dysfunction really be what God wants? I think not. Let us now begin to imagine a completely different future.”
McAleese has consistently spoken out for LGBTQ Catholics and families across Ireland, and her presence at the Dublin Pride Parade on Saturday, June 30th, will likely be welcomed as a continuing high-profile show of support. For a country with a strong Catholic identity that is growing and changing into the 21st century, the World Meeting of Families will arrive with a monumental task of uniting families of all kinds. Representation like that of McAleese’s son and his family continue to be essential before, during, and following the conference. They represent the millions of Catholics across the globe who support LGBT people and families.
—Catherine Buck, June 27, 2018