LGBTQ+ Supporters Respond to Priest’s Hateful Comments with “Gathering of Love”

Nearly 60 LGBTQ+ supporters held a “gathering of love” protest outside St. Mary’s Church in Listowel, Ireland, to condemn hateful speech by a priest there, placing Pride flags and flowers at the church to show their positive approach. 

Earlier this year, the retired priest, Fr. Sean Sheehy, made inflammatory comments about transgender people and same-gender couples that not only offended the local parish, but also raised the attention of Bishop Ray Browne of Kerry, who rebuked the priest.

Dzana Raszewska, a 29-year-old parishioner, told the Irish Independent:

“We quietly and respectfully laid the flowers and flags outside the church. This wasn’t a protest but a gathering of love, to show there’s no room for hate. There’s only space for love.”

Reacting to Sheehy’s comments, Raszewska shared that it was “painfully hurtful” to hear that the priest’s “view is that someone like me shouldn’t be allowed to pray anymore because of my sexual orientation.” As “someone who believes in God,” Raszewska (they/them), who is bisexual and nonbinary, remarked that Sheehy’s comments are unacceptable, which is “why we responded to Fr Sheehy’s words with love.”

As part of the event, supporters wrote verses from the Bible, such as ‘Love one another, as I love you,’ on posters and flags. Despite efforts to make the event a “gathering of love,” not everyone was happy. Raszewska noted that one man came out of the church and removed one of their signs calling it “sinful.” 

While some parishioners might have been frustrated with the gathering, organizers of the event said that it was welcomed by most of the congregation as it “helped provide a platform for not only LTBTQ+ people but their families and friends too, who had been hurt by Fr. Sheehy’s sermon.” Over 30 parishioners reportedly walked out of Mass after Sheehy’s comments. Bishop Browne said in a statement after the incident said those comments “do not represent the Christian position.”

Sabrina Crotty, another supporter, hoped that the media would “do a better job not giving air space to transphobic and queerphobic rhetoric” like that of Sheehy. To counter the hatred, Crotty emphasized: 

“It was lovely to see families turn out today. The important thing was that not everyone who turned out to the demo was queer. Everyone there had a queer family member or friend. And they were showing solidarity for those people.”

LGBTQ+ people should not be subject to hateful rhetoric from anyone, most especially from members of the clergy. Efforts to create “gatherings of love” in support of the LGBTQ+ community ought to be celebrated, for LGBTQ+ Catholics are equal members of the church. What the events at St. Mary’s show is that the views of Fr. Sheehy are increasingly outweighed by a Catholic faithful that is increasingly affirming and outspoken on behalf of LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Bobby Nichols (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 13, 2022

2 replies
    • If they stand for the love of Jesus and his 10 commandments then I would stand with them B UT they don't They stand only for their version of love which is against Gods 10 commandments.
      If they stand for the love of Jesus and his 10 commandments then I would stand with them B UT they don't They stand only for their version of love which is against Gods 10 commandments. says:

      Sodomy is the sin that cries out to God for Vengence. God not only destroyed Sodom and Gomarrahh but He destroyed a total of 5 cities. For the sake of your souls please listen to Gods Commandments. They don’t change just because we may want them to.

      Reply

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