An international coalition of Catholic LGBT organizations has become the second organization to announce that the World Meeting of Families (WMF) administrators have ignored their application to have an exhibit booth at the Dublin event in August.
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), an organization of 32 organizations that work for equality in church and society, posted a statement on their website on July 25th, explaining that their application, plus follow-up correspondence was met with silence from the leaders of the Vatican-sponsored event. The announcement comes a day after another pro-LGBT Catholic organization, We Are Church Ireland, said they had received the same treatment from WMF.
The GNRC statement explained that the group “applied for an exhibit booth on 17th April 2018. Despite repeated requests for a decision about their application, and information that booth spaces are still available, GNRC has received no response.”
Ruby Almeida, GNRC co-chair who submitted the application for a booth stated:
“Attempts to get a response about our exhibit booth from World Meeting of Families officials have been very frustrating. We feel completely ignored. It was our hope that we could provide support to our fellow Catholics who have LGBTI family members. 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. Our hope was to provide a place where these families can have honest conversations with people who have dealt with the same questions, to provide them resources, and to help them connect with people in their own countries who might be able to provide ongoing support. We have much to offer to them, as well as to Church leaders responsible for ministering to all kinds of families.”
Christopher Vella, the other GNRC co-chair explained why it would have been important for LGBT Catholics to be represented at the event:
“The reality is that LGBTI people and families are part of the Church. There are millions of Catholics who are LGBTI, and hundreds of millions who have LGBTI family members. They deserve effective ministry and pastoral care, just like everyone else in our Church. Church officials don’t have all the answers—many have questions themselves. We are willing to be a resource for these families and for Church leaders. It is tragic that our assistance and expertise are not welcomed with enthusiasm.”
The GNRC statement explained that when the organization did not hear a decision about their application, they asked for a decision and explanation from Rev. Tim Bartlett, director of the World Meeting of Families 2018, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, President of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. Their requests were met by silence.
Vella also observed a pattern in this kind of behavior from church leaders:
“This seems to follow a historical pattern of editing-out LGBTI voices and Catholic LGBTI stories, the faith-filled voices of our loving Catholic families and affirming church communities. 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. 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.”
The WMF planners initially said that all families would be welcome at the event. However, unexplained deletions from promotional items of material which was positive towards families headed by lesbian and gay people has created a negative impression among many LGBT people in Ireland and abroad. After the controversies became public, the WMF invited Fr. James Martin, SJ, to lead a workshop at the event on creating LGBT-friendly parishes. Martin’s book Building a Bridge, which discusses how the LGBT community and the institutional church can engage in dialogue, has been well-received by high-ranking church officials, including Cardinal Farrell.
The GNRC also announced that the leader of one of their member groups will be attending the WMF with her wife and two adopted children. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, who attended the 2015 WMF in Philadelphia, will travel to Ireland to be a visible presence of LGBT Catholics. “We are part of the Catholic family,” Duddy-Burke said, “and it is important that we have a visible presence at this and other Catholic events. I look forward to hearing what questions other folks attending this meeting have, and to sharing our experience as a Catholic family.”
The GNRC is asking groups and individuals to endorse their statement. You can read it in English or Spanish. The endorsement form follows at the end of the statement. New Ways Ministry, which is a member of GNRC, has endorsed the statement and encourages Bondings 2.0 readers to do so, too.
For all Bondings 2.0 posts on World Meeting of Families issues, click here.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, July 26, 2018