‘I have striven to raise ye in a pride for the noble people before ye who fell in love with human nature an’ through human nature fell in love with God.’
Bryan McMahon, Children of the Rainbow
When two people find each other, fall in love and care for each other through the ups and downs of life, they are truly blessed. Who, having known this blessing, could not wish for it for all, especially for cherished relatives and friends ?
The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) embraces the dignity, diversity, authenticity and grace of all loving and committed relationships. (Please see our 2018 statement “Future Families”).
We are therefore deeply saddened that so many of our LGBT relatives, neighbours, friends and their families, in order to protect their mental health and dignity, have walked away from our Church, as it persists in making harsh pronouncements on their identity and relationships.
Our parish communities are diminished by this injustice and by the absence of our LGBT friends, their family members and many allies who are exiled from the Catholic Church.
We are all compromised by our membership of a church, whose ecclesiastical power structure insists on repeatedly stigmatising, oppressing, marginalising and effectively excluding people because of their identity as LGBT.
In their launch of a ‘synodal pathway’ for the Irish Church on March 10th 2021,our bishops have told us that Pope Francis is “calling us in particular to solidarity with the poor, the excluded and those on the peripheries”. If our bishops are truly intent on solidarity with the excluded, we suggest that they join us in identifying, acknowledging and actively dismantling the barriers which have made the Catholic church a hostile and unwelcome place for LGBT Catholics.
We urge our bishops for example, to reflect on their recent “Flourish” programme which strives to appear inclusive and accepting of young LGBT people and families; yet reinforces the most hurtful barrier which precludes young people and/or their parents from ever being seen by their church to be part of a legitimate, loving and committed relationship as part of God’s plan for them.
Let us all strive to make our church a welcoming and accepting place; that reflects the unconditional love of God that is found in our hearts; celebrated in all committed and loving relationships but difficult to find in “theoretical condemnations…legalism or clerical moralism” decried by Pope Francis in his Holy Saturday address on April 3rd 2021.
As accountable lay members of the Church, we therefore ask lay Catholics in parishes around Ireland, to lead from the ground up and join, in heartfelt apology to the LGBT community, for our historical complicity in their oppression, especially by our silence.
Let us step up to our role as equal members of the church, by using our voice to calmly and respectfully insist on speaking our truth; that we as lay Catholics bless and welcome the beauty, dignity and grace expressed in all loving and committed human relationships.
Beannacht Dé Orainn go Léir.