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Halligan says Church teaching on homosexuality 'evil' as LGBT issues under spotlight at RDS

Inside the venue, high-profile US Jesuit Fr James Martin said parishes needed to do more to include LGBT Catholics.

Updated Aug 23rd 2018, 4:50 PM

GAY CELEBRATION DUBLIN CASTLE II2A5888_90548040 Ursula Halligan Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

URSULA HALLIGAN HAS called on the Catholic Church to be more welcoming of LGBT members.

The journalist, a member of the advocacy group We Are Church Ireland, said the organisation’s exclusion from the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) was “wrong”.

Halligan made the comments outside the three-day pastoral congress of the WMOF at the RDS in Dublin today.

She said the conference aims to celebrate “all that is good about family”, adding: “Our exclusion is wrong.”

Halligan spoke to reporters as members of the LGBT Rainbow Choir sang outside the event at lunchtime today.

Her event was attended by dozens of Irish and international reporters.

“LGBTI families are as precious as any other type of family. We’re singing here today to say, ‘Our voices will not be silenced’,” Halligan said.

LGBT issues were the main focus of media attention at the pastoral congress today.

Earlier this morning the high-profile US Jesuit Fr James Martin spoke to an audience of around 800 on the need for parishes to include LGBT people and their families.

Church leaders needed to recognise that LGBT Catholics bring gifts to the Church and “long to know God”.

“God loves them and so do we,” was the message that needed to be underlined, Martin said.

The New York priest, who has written extensively on this issue, received a warm reception from the audience.

The speaker who introduced him said there was no doubt Martin’s appearance was the most-anticipated event at the RDS this week.

Some 10,000 people had signed a petition calling for Martin to be disinvited from the event due to his stance on LGBT issues.

Around a quarter of the crowd gave him a standing ovation today.

Acknowledging Martin’s work, Ursula Halligan said his comments were welcome but that action was now needed from the Church.

So if the Church is truly welcoming, they would get rid of this language that calls us objectively disordered and intrinsically evil and they would say, ‘Yes, of course we love LGBTI families, we’ve no problem with having pictures of LGBTI families’, but they do.
So until they change those things, everything else is fig leaf, it’s window dressing, it’s not real, but it is a start in the right direction. I welcome what he said today but it’s not near far enough. The Church has to go much further.

Halligan, best known as the long-serving former political editor of TV3, said she agreed with former President Mary McAleese’s description of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality as being “evil”.

“Anything that stunts love in a human being is evil,” she told reporters.

LGBT groups 

The question of whether LGBT couples who are members of the Church would be welcome at the WMOF was raised earlier this year after it emerged that photos featuring same-sex partners were removed from a reissued booklet sent to parishes about the event.

In June, Archbishop Eamon Martin said that LGBT+ couples are “of course” welcome to volunteer at the event.

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics last month said it was “deeply dismayed and disappointed” after receiving no response to its requests to be part of the WMOF.

We Are Church Ireland also said it was being “ignored and discriminated against” in its application to be part of the event.

Responding to this criticism, a spokesperson for the WMOF previously told TheJournal.ie:

“We Are Church are one of a number of organisations who are on a holding list in respect of exhibition space … many of these groups are on hold because they do not meet our stated criteria which was provided to them at the time of their application.

Priority was given in allocating exhibition spaces to those who immediately met the criteria. Had there been more space available we may have been able to allocate spaces to those on hold on the list.
At this point it seems very unlikely that there will be any spaces left to allocate to those who fell outside the criteria.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, was asked about the Church’s position towards the LGBT community at the event’s daily press conference this afternoon.

“I do think a call to chastity, which is there for all Catholics with regard to sexual activity outside of marriage, is something that is very real,” Martin said as he addressed the media alongside Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and other speakers from the pastoral congress.

With reporting by Daragh Brophy 

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Órla Ryan

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