Advocates for LGBTQ people are holding a solidarity vigil to support a church in Ireland that received harsh criticism on social media and a warning from the local archdiocese for flying a rainbow Pride flag.
Newstalk writes that Assumption Parish, Ballyfermot, removed the flag after it received a wave of criticism when images of the banner were shared on social media. The Archdiocese of Dublin warned the church that the only flags permitted on church grounds are papal and national flags.
Assumption’s parish council and Fr. Adrian Egan, the pastor, had made the decision to fly the flag during Pride Month. Their intention was for LGTBQ members of the parish to see a visible sign of welcome at their church. According to The Irish Times:
“A post on the parish Facebook page, accompanying a picture of the flags flying outside the church, carried the message: ‘In the classic words of the good copper “move along folks, nothing much to see here!” Just an effort by a parish pastoral council to say to our gay brothers and sisters “God loves you, your parish loves you, and you are welcome here.” Applies to all of you too! That’s all it is folks, but conspiracy theories abound these days!’
“But, Fr Egan said, ‘it wasn’t long before the proverbial hit the fan’.
“There were ‘lots of messages of thanks’ and some from very good Catholic people who were confused by the flag’ who were ‘hurt and dismayed by it’.
“Then there were those messages that ‘were not so civil and polite,’ he said.
“Fr Egan apologised ‘to all those genuine people who were confused by our putting the flag up, also to those hurt by the taking of the flag down.’”
In addition to the removal of the Pride flag, the Irish national flag was also taken down from outside the parish.
Newstalk reported that vigil organizer and local Councillor Daithí Doolan said the solidarity event sends a strong message of support to the LGBTQ community in Ireland, particularly Ballyfermot. Doolan commented:
“Our message is very clear. We are standing united, shoulder to shoulder, as a tolerant welcoming community that supports diversity as is encapsulated in that wonderful flag.”
Also organizing the event were The Ballyfermot Anti-Racism Network and the Ballyfermot Youth Service.
The solidarity vigil sends a clear response of LGBTQ support. Fr. Egan and Assumption Parish remain undeterred despite the personal attacks lobbed at them on social media. According to The Irish Times, Fr. Egan commented that everybody “was welcome in the company of Jesus. Jesus turned nobody away and as long as I’m parish priest here that will always be the case.” He further explained, “And I am very proud that we have a parish pastoral council too that is willing to take risks to proclaim that message.”
—Beth Mueller Stewart, New Ways Ministry, July 2, 2021