LGBT and Ally Voices on World Meeting of Families

Some brief items and links about LGBT  and ally voices discussing the World Meeting of Families, Dublin.

Nick O’Shea

LGBT+ Catholics Westminster

On Wednesday night, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster, the pastoral outreach of the London, England, diocese, offered a session to about 50 pastoral congress participants describing their ministry and how it developed.  Originally founded in 2009 as the Soho Masses, a ministry which held a special Mass for LGBT+ people and allies, the ministry grew into being housed at the Jesuits’ Farm Street Church, in the Mayfair neighborhood of London,  where the ministry is  integrated into the parish’s life.  Fr. Dominic Robinson and Nick O’Shea spoke from the stage, while their colleague, Sherwyn Sicat, spoke via video from London.  The small turnout for the event may have been due to the fact that it was a later addition to the schedule, and it was not listed in the printed program.  All evening programs were significantly less attended than the daytime events.

At this  WMF presentation, O’Shea and Sicat may very well be the first openly LGBT people who represented a Catholic ministry which does not focus on the promotion of  celibacy.  In 2015 at Philadelphia’s WMF, an openly gay man spoke, representing Courage, a ministry which focuses primarily on the promotion of celibacy and which views a homosexual orientation as a defect.

The Belfast Telegraph included some quotes from the workshop at the end of their article on LGBT issues at WMF.

The Duddy-Burkes

Marianne Duddy-Burke at WMF

Marianne and Becky Duddy-Burke, a married couple from Boston, Massachusetts, participated in the WMF with their children, Emily and Finn, as one of the only visible LGBT families.  Marianne serves as  Executive Director of DignityUSA.  During their family’s time in Dublin, the Duddy-Burkes found time to be interviewed by several media outlets, including for Religion News Service.  Marianne, who had been at the 2015 WMF in Phildadelplia, told the reporter:

“We felt like there needed to be a presence here again so that our stories would be included, and that we could be visible as members of the church.”

More on Fr. James Martin, SJ

NBC Out did a report on Fr. James Martin’s WMF talk, and provided some background information about the Jesuit’s involvement with LGBT issues.

How much things have changed!

A headline in The Washington Post about Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland highlights the great advances the nation has made in regards to LGBT issues: “The last time a pope visited Ireland, homosexuality was a crime. Now the Irish prime minister is gay.”  The article quoted an Irish gay leader who noted the significance of the change:

Brian Finnegan

“Brian Finnegan, editor of Ireland’s Gay Community News, said that the last time a pope visited, 39 years ago, Irish leaders were more likely to have said: ‘ “We wont have any contraception or allow people divorce or even talk of homosexuality,” just “your eminence, you’re here, and we love you, and we love the church.”

” ‘There would’ve been no defense at all,’ he said.

“That makes  [Prime Minister Leo] Varadkar’s meeting with the pope that much more symbolic. For many, an openly gay leader of a predominantly Catholic country meeting the leader of the Catholic Church, an institution that does not recognize same-sex marriage, would have once been unthinkable.

” ‘It’s quite empowering to see a gay leader of a country stand in front of the gay community on the stage of Dublin Pride and say we’re valid and we’re valuable and we have every reason to be proud of who we are given the long history of oppression,’ Finnegan said.”

‘I had high hopes for more inclusion’

NZ City, a news outlet from New Zealand interviewed several different Irish people about their reactions to the World Meeting of Families.  One of  the featured people was Siofra Kelly, a gay Catholic who demonstrated outside the WMF venue as part of the LGBT choir event, and  she told the newspaper:

Siofra Kelly outside the WMF venue.

“The church’s stance on gay people and LGBTQI people has always been the same, where they don’t recognise gay union as the same as a heterosexual couple because of the procreation problem.

“I suppose from our point of view we feel equal in every sense as a family, and therefore we would have liked to have a part of (the WMOF) activities.

“I do have a longstanding history of involvement with the church, and when Pope Francis was elected I really had high hopes for more inclusion and a more welcoming culture for gay people in the church, but unfortunately some of his recent comments were … I think quite often what he omits to say is more offensive than what he actually says.

“Obviously, the Irish church has had a lot of problems, and I think it’s a good opportunity for him to come here and in some ways build a bridge with the Irish public, but I guess we’ll see over the next few days how all of that will unfold — will he apologise? Will there be more of a welcoming culture?

“Someday, I would like to have children as a gay woman. And I don’t want my children living in a country where the main church in their country is telling them their family unit is not okay.”

“There are all types of family situations”

Aveen and Cathal Reilly, with their children, Saoirse, Cail and Cody, at WMF

Cathal and Aveen Reilly, a married heterosexual couple, were speakers at the WMF, in the same presentation on marriage preparation as Cardinal Vincent Nichols.  The Irish Times interviewed them after the presentations and they said “they felt the church had become more open to other types of families, including same-sex couples.”

“ ‘The priests we met today, they seem more acceptable to everyone because families have changed, and there are all types of family situations,’ said Aveen.

“She pointed out she even saw an older couple head off to hear Fr James Martin, an American Jesuit priest deliver a speech about how the church could be more welcoming to the LGBT community. ‘It was a fantastic example that they did,’ she said.”

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, August 26, 2018

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