In Dublin next year, there is an intriguing opportunity opening up for LGBT Catholics. Are our advocacy groups paying attention?
For the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, USA based LGBT groups and their allies attempted to secure formal accreditation. Philadelphia however, is the seat of archconservative Archbishop Chaput, and they were deliberately excluded. In spite of this, the coalition established an informal, non-accredited presence, and did some great work making the case for acceptance and inclusion church, of queer families.
For Dublin 2018, circumstances have changed, dramatically. The local archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, is far more pastoral and supportive of LGBT Catholics than Blaise Cupich, as evidenced by his nuanced, non-agressive response to the introduction of same-sex marriage in Ireland. Even more important, is that initial preparations for the assembly have been encouraging. In some recent preparatory addresses in Dublin, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn very carefully noted that in the modern world, “family” must necessarily include non-traditional families. Cardinal Schonborn is notable, as a senior theologian who has the ear of Pope Francis. However, he is Austrian not Irish, and so not directly involved in hosting the 2018 assembly.
Archbishop Martin on the other hand is, and he too has been encouraging in his public statements. For example, in a recent homily at the Knock shrine in Ireland, he observed that “while there is no family that is ideal, there are “families who struggle, at times heroically.” In orthodox Vatican doctrine, our queer families are certainly not regarded as “ideal” – but it is also abundantly true that many of them are included among those that “struggle, at times heroically” (not least, against the difficulties presented by some people and documents of the institutional church.
It is possible (even likely?) that an attempt to secure formal accreditation for a coalition of LGBT Catholic groups to represent queer (“non-ideal”) families at the 2018 assembly, will be more successful than was the case in 2015. Yet, I have not yet heard that any of our assorted advocacy groups are so far showing any interest in attending.
For the record, I will personally make the case for representation to the two international groups that I have connections with, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics and the Catholic working group of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, as well as to Quest, the British pastoral support group. I certainly hope to attend the World Meeting myself, as an openly gay Catholic father and grandfather. ( The meeting also just happens to begin on my birthday, which is a bonus).