LGBT Presence at World Meeting of Families?

The bishop of Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy, has  made explicit what has previously been implied – that gay couples must be made welcome at next year’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

….speaking after his diocese launched its preparation programme for WMF2018, an international event which promotes traditional Catholic teaching on marriage, Dr Leahy said the event in August 2018 in Dublin would be a missed opportunity if the Church did not embrace family in all its variety.”We are living in changing times and family too is changing,” he said.”We’ve had the referendum in favour of same-sex marriage and a lot of people voted in that referendum and all are equally welcome to join in this celebration of family.”Everyone must be made feel welcome next year. We all want to build a good family network of support in Ireland at all levels.”

The Irish Times report states that Bishop Leahy is the first Catholic bishop to state that lgbt families will be welcome to the Dublin WMF. He may be the first to say do so as explicitly, but others have implied the same thing. Cardinal Schonborn for instance, speaking in Ireland at an earlier conference on families in preparation for the World Meeting, said that “same-sex couples also need families“.

At New Ways Ministry Bob Shine, writing about Bishop Leahy’s statement quotes an extract from my earlier post on my hope that LGBT families will be represented, and observes,

The WMF 2018 is a prime moment to realize the kind of encounter and dialogue sought by Pope Francis.  Church leaders should formally welcome LGBT Catholics, their families, and ministries working with these communities to the gathering.

I want to see that lgbt families are not simply “welcomed”, but actively present, interacting with other families, and advocating for full lgbt inclusion in church. There will be provision at the conference for formal recognition of groups as well as individuals. I have written to the organisers, asking if we can arrange for formal accreditation as a group of LGBT Catholics. There will be time during conference for individuals to speak about their experience of families: I will be agitating  a slot for one of us to speak about our families.

I have already discussed this proposal in the Catholic working group of the European Forum of LGBT Christian groups, and gained their support in principle. Next month, I plan to raise it again at the Munich conference  of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.


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