Ireland’s Gay Catholic Voices Speak Out for Faith and Equality

The Republic of Ireland, one of the most heavily Catholic nations, has taken center stage on the global LGBT scene in 2014, showing that Catholics, even in perhaps more traditional cultures, are eager to work for equality and justice.  (At the end of this post, we include links to previous posts this year which featured positive steps toward LGBT equality in Ireland.)

One of the reasons for this expansion surely has to be the presence of the national organization, Gay Catholic Voice Ireland (GCVI).  Founded in 2013, the group has been working at providing a Catholic pro-LGBT voice in Irish debates about marriage equality, pastoral care, and other LGBT issues. The Irish Times recently profiled several of their members in an article provocatively titled “Gay Catholics pray 2015 will be the year of the welcome.”

The reporter met up with GCVI members at the monthly “All Are Welcome” Mass, held on the third Sunday of the month, 3:30 pm, at the Carmelite Centre off Morehampton Road in Dublin.  The reporter was impressed by the reflective atmosphere of the liturgy, as well as the hospitality it offered:

“It’s a notably different experience from any Sunday Mass I’ve been to, although little of that has anything to do with the rainbow flag stretched across the altar. Prayers aren’t sped through, readings aren’t mumbled and ignored. Instead the parishioners reflect silently on what has just been said before speaking their thoughts aloud, while the prayers of the intercession are opened to the floor, allowing you see what is on the mind of the parishioners. . . .

“By attending All Are Welcome, the congregation is enacting the change it wants to see brought about. It’s a haven for those in second marriages, who have gay children or for straight allies who can’t equate the Christ in their hearts with the hatred spewed on the pews elsewhere.”

Ciarán Ó Mathúna, the chairman of GCVI, commented on the developments of the past year, particularly the synod on marriage and the family, which the reporter described as the Church playing “a coquettish game of footsie with the gay community” by first releasing a positive mid-term report, only to pull back from their affirming outreach and retreating to traditional positions in the final report.  Ó Mathúna commented hopefully on the synod:

“Had we not seen the draft we would have said the report was a step in the right direction. It’s disappointing because expectations were raised. But it was only around six votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. When the issue is revisited in a year’s time, the pope will get it through.”

Of course, the reporter asked the age-old question that arises in stories on this topic:  Why does an LGBT person remain Catholic?  Two GCVI members offered insightful responses:

“ ‘The message of Christ trumps all,’ says Christopher Fitzpatrick, who was taken to a psychiatrist to help change his persuasion when he was younger. ‘The blessings we receive outshine the negativity that come from the human failings of the church, the misinterpretations of philosophies.’

“ ‘There’s the authority of the hierarchy, but also the authority of your conscience,’ says Soline Humbert, who is straight and married. ‘A lot of us feel that we cannot accept those toxic teachings. We have to take responsibility for them. I’ve stayed within the church to help remove this poison, which is a counter-witness to the message of the gospel.’ ”

And a parent spoke about the challenges that LGBT people face in the Irish church:

I come to this Mass in acknowledgment of that. I think it’s what Jesus wants. The basis of any religion is love. If God welcomes you no matter what, who are we to cause hurt by words spoken in disrespect?”

“Paula [who did not want to use her real name] is actively involved in her own parish but has to be careful who she tells that her son is gay. ‘I brought him to my church to be baptised, for his First Holy Communion and his Confirmation. But I’ve seen some of my son’s friends disowned by their families because of what is said by the church.’

“Paula has good cause for concern. Many gays have been forbidden from taking Communion after an open-minded priest is moved on and replaced with a dogmatic one. Choir singers, readers and ministers of the Eucharist have been removed from their positions for the same reasons, while more liberal priests are afraid to speak out for fear more conservative members of their flock report them to their superiors.”

You can read more testimonials in the full article which can be accessed by clicking here.  Gay Catholic Voice Ireland also produced a video offering perspectives from three gay men and one lesbian woman about faith and sexuality.  You can view the video by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Articles about Ireland on Bondings 2.o in 2014:

January 9: “Former President of Ireland Calls for Change in Church’s Teaching on Homosexuality

February 11: “Signs of Openness on LGBT and Marriage Issues from Two European Church Leaders

March 14: “LGBT Rainbows Are Appearing Over Ireland

September 8: “Ireland’s Catholics March Onward for LGBT Equality

September 9: “St. Vincent de Paul Society Gives Grant to LGBT Center Despite Bishop’s Challenge

December 9: “Irish Bishops and Laity Have Differing Views on Marriage Equality

December 12: “Elphin Bishop, Bert & Ernie, Gay Priests, and Colin Farrell Are All Involved in Ireland’s LGBT Debates

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to Ireland’s Gay Catholic Voices Speak Out for Faith and Equality

  1. […] Gay Catholic Voice Ireland and others mounting a pro-equality campaign as that nation considers a referendum on marriage; […]

  2. […] one of the most Catholic of nations, has recently shown that its citizens are strongly supportive of LGBT equality, despite opposition from the […]

  3. […] December 22: “Ireland’s Gay Catholic Voices Speak Out for Faith and Equality” […]

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