PRESS RELEASE 13 June 2018
Association of Catholics in Ireland
ACI challenges the WMOF to reflect the realities of family life today.
The ACI Future Families conference report calls for recognition of the families who feel marginalised and unwanted by the Church and for compassion to be shown to them at the World Meeting of Families in August.
The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) have issued a comprehensive report on the proceedings of their conference Future Families: Challenges for Faith and Society, held in anticipation of the World Meeting of Families 2018 planned for Dublin in August. The conference was held on 14th April at the Hilton Hotel, Dublin. At this public event, speakers and delegates examined the realities of family life, particularly for those who feel abandoned by, or alienated from, the Church because of their circumstances. Focus groups discussed a wide range of topics including:
Treatment of non-traditional families; Divorced and separated families in the church; Church’s treatment of LGBTQI people and families; Child sex abuse; Catholic priests’ secret families; Sexuality, celibacy and priesthood.
Among the significant challenges to the WMOF voiced by the participants were:
- More support and less condemnation of divorced or separated couples. Recognition of the messy realities of human relationships, e.g. trying to raise children in the faith while parents denied Eucharist.
- Same-sex families to be included in speaker schedule. A special forum welcoming the LGBT community and their families, listening to their stories and restating the emphasis on inclusion in the Church as propagated by Pope Francis.
- Child abuse victims to be represented at Congress events. Pope Francis to offer a public apology for the Church’s cover-up.
- Wives/partners and children of priests: Priests to have the right to choose to be married or not. Priests to take responsibility for actions. A workshop to be held at the WMOF.
- Who is funding the WMOF? Dismay and anger at the changes to the brochure and promotional video, understood to be at the behest of groups outside Ireland.
- On the 50th anniversary of ‘Humanae Vitae’, a teaching not accepted by the people of God, an acknowledgement that this was an error and needs to be changed.
- Need for women speakers at WMOF: Of the 18 speakers announced only 2 are women, who may be married. 16 are cardinals and bishops. How can they be the main speakers at an event for families? 50% of speakers should be women.
- Our Church should be a beacon of hope for all people and should be a trail-blazer in promoting the acceptance of all God’s creation in society. The WMOF to be truly inclusive, where ‘all are welcome’.
The conference report has been sent to the organising committee of the World Meeting of Families as a contribution to meeting Pope Francis’ wish for the event to be inclusive and to reflect the reality of life for families today; to Pope Francis in Rome; to the Irish Bishops and to the Papal Nuncio.
A copy of the report is attached below for your information.
The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) is committed to the pursuit of a reform and renewal agenda in the Irish Catholic Church based in the spirit of Vatican II. It is committed to helping to re-build (through words and deeds) a united Church based on the teachings of Jesus Christ – a Church that is inclusive, compassionate, accepts the equality of all believers by virtue of their baptism and acknowledges its failures.
For further information contact: Anthony Neville at 086 8112715 or Noel McCann at 087 9274379 – or email email@example.com.
To read the full Future Families report, click the button below.
I agree with most of the press statement and find it clearly expressed and comprehensive.
However it mentions the “Need for women speakers at WMOF: Of the 18 speakers announced only 2 are women, who may be married. 16 are cardinals and bishops.”
What about lay men? Who is representing them? This ACI report has made the mistake, often made by women and clerics, that clerics are the representatives of all men and therefore only women are left unrepresented in Church committees of various sorts and levels. Celibate priests cannot be truly representative of lay men; their vocation, culture, priorities, responsibilities, and needs are quite different. Parish, diocesan and Vatican representative councils, to be truly representative of the universal Church, should (where possible) always include nuns, single and married women, clerics and single and married men. Since the WMOF is about families, the majority of the speakers at this meeting should have been husbands and wives with families and expertise in the particular field being addressed.
If there was to be a world-wide meeting of clergy would the majority of chosen speakers be lay people? I think not!
A Religion News Service article states that “In Germany, as in the United States, the population includes a large number of ‘mixed marriages’ — Catholics married to Christians from other traditions. Many German non-Catholics regularly attend Mass with their spouses and want to receive Communion. Current rules, however, bar Protestants from doing so except within tightly prescribed circumstances.” See
This is an important issue for many families in Ireland too and should be highlighted at the WMoFs. The Irish Bishops should work with the German Bishops to demand change.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7th I was surprised to hear a blast from a bagpipe at the Grand Parade end of Patrick Street, Cork. “Great” sez I,”Barrack St. Band must be ready to lift our spirits”. How wrong.
A group emerged from behind fancy looking parade banners and began to distribute stacks of leaflets, very snazzy, colourful and well printed. The heading was DISINVITE FR. JAMES MARTIN.
Seemingly this group, calling itself
“Irish Society for Christian Civilisation” c/o Po Box 9701,Swords Co. Dublin, considers itself the censors or protectors of the citizens of this country, as well as all Catholics living here. Strangely, we in the real Capital never heard of them, and Corkonians always pride ourselves for being ‘in the know’.
I note Fr. Martin is giving a Workshop on how the Church might deal with the LGBW’s in our midst. I believe this to be a most important Workshop and was heartened to see such included – it brings a touch of reality and inclusiveness to what makes up the modern family worldwide.
The handout listed 7 reasons why the writers (no names!) object to the priest’s presence, all referring to ways he supports gays, faultfinding his book ‘Building a Bridge’ and picks over his every word, choosing dramatic episodes in his ministry to denigrate him.
Has anyone ever heard of this group? They had vanished 30 mins. later when I returned to Patrick Street, probably gone off with their list elsewhere. Very sad.
I know nothing of this priest – but am glad the Organisers chose him. Surely they are aware he is sailing close to the wind and will ruffle some feathers. I’m glad they had the courage.
I must admit, Treasa, that I had never heard of this particular group before either though we here in the North have our own wee groups of right wing fanatics. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Like yourself I am delighted that Fr James Martin is coming to give a workshop even though his invitation came rather late in the day. Ironic too when we are all aware of the large number of gay priests and bishops who still haven’t faced up to the herd of elephants in the sacristy!
Fr James has been vilified and suffered so much abuse from extremely unchristian elements in the Church but has shown tremendous courage and diplomacy in his reaction. A brave man and a compassionate priest. I hope his words reach out to those who need to hear them though the elephants in the room can make an awful lot of noise and those who need to listen to him might not be able to hear them.
Treasa, I live a few miles from Swords and I also have never heard of the ‘Irish Society for Christian Civilisation’. I assume the PO Box is the only link with Swords. They haven’t made much of an impact here in North County Dublin anyway!! Clearly they must feel that there is more ‘fertile ground’ for their missionary activity in the ‘Real Capital’!!
Thankfully they would appear to be very much a minority, extreme group with little traction in terms of support from the public in this country. But who is paying for the brochures and banners?
A spokesperson for this campaign featured on the News on RTE radio to-day. The RTE website refers to a claim that 10,000 signatures have been collected on a petition to ‘Disinvite James Martin’. I wonder how many signatures were collected in Ireland!! Thankfully the WMOF has dismissed this call.
Like Mary and yourself, I really welcome the fact that Fr. James Martin will speak at the WMOF. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, he says about the gay community within the clerical ranks of the Roman Catholic Church – a cohort which appears to extend from the lowest levels to levels very close to the top of the pyramid according to Fr. James Alison’s recent article in the Tablet [‘Homosexuality among clergy:caught in a trap of dishonesty’- 1st August 2018]. Given the official church position on the LGBT issue is it a fair question to ask – does the church operate one policy approach for the ‘ordinary’ gay person and another for gay men who happened to be ordained?
Is it not the teaching of all bibles that sex for single people is against the will of God so the question of sexuality does not arise. I don’t see this as being a Catholic problem specifically, although many would like us to believe it is?