Picture of same-sex couple removed from booklet for Pope ‘family’ event

Pictures of same-sex couples have been censored from a booklet promoting a Catholic event which will be attended by the Pope.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Ireland in August to attend the World Meeting of Families event, a meeting of Catholic activists and preachers that is a keystone in the Church’s global agenda.

However, a row blew up inside the Catholic church over booklets that were sent to parishes in advance of the meeting, which outlined the Church’s approach to family issues.

The information booklet reportedly contained a stock image of two women embracing on page 24, leading to criticism from the powerful anti-LGBT Catholic lobby.

A line in the booklet accompanying the message added: “While the Church upholds the ideal of marriage as a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, other unions exist which provide support to the couple. Pope Francis encourages us never to exclude but to accompany these couples also, with love, care and support.”

This led to furious coverage from anti-LGBT website LifeSiteNews, which criticised the “explicit promotion of homosexual relationships as a form of family”.

Pope Francis (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

However, both the image and the tacit textual references to same-sex couples have now been removed from a second version of the booklet.

The contentious image has been replaced by one of a father, mother and children.

The apparent censorship has led to criticism from the former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese.

While organisers have claimed the event would be “open to all”, the Irish Independent reports that McAleese retorted: “The history of the event does not bode well in that regard”.

She added: “For example, LGBTI Catholics and their families who in good faith attended the 2015 meeting held in Philadelphia have reported that they experienced traumatising hostility.

“Ireland can and hopefully will do better than that.”

McAleese added that the event should be “a fully inclusive and welcoming event for all God’s children and in particular those whom the Church has in the past contributed to marginalising and excluding”.

She added: “The inclusive, respectful and reconciling vision for the Irish event so well-articulated by Bishop Brendan Leahy is exactly what the Irish Catholic Church needs and is hopefully capable of showcasing on the historic visit of Pope Francis, author of the event’s core theme, the joy of love.”

In a statement to The Tablet, a spokesperson for the World Meeting of Families did not explain the censorship.

They instead said: “The principal aim of the 2018 Dublin World Meeting of Families is to highlight the message and spirit of Pope Francis’ Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

“The meeting has always been understood as a meeting open to all. This remains the position of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.”

The official pointed to a line from Pope Francis’ exhortation on the family, which states “Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration”.

The reference in the exhortation was largely seen as a futile gesture – as it did little to challenge the Church’s symbiotic relationship with the anti-LGBT movement around the world.

Many Catholic institutions across the world continue to explicitly discriminate against gay people on the grounds that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Last year a number of Catholic organisations were accused of censoring a priest who has called for the church to reach out to LGBT people.

Rev. James Martin, a highly-respected Jesuit priest, is the author of the recently-published book Building a Bridge, which sets out a framework for the Catholic Church to begin to engage with the LGBT community with “respect, compassion and sensitivity”.

In the book, the priest draws on the Christian ideals of “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” as a model for how the Catholic Church should relate to the LGBT community, igniting anger from the anti-LGBT lobby which is dominant within the church.

In the wake of the book’s publication, hardline opponents of LGBT equality within the Church began a campaign targeting Rev. Martin – successfully convincing a string of global Catholic organisations to cancel planned events where he had been due to speak about unrelated subjects.

The Theological College in Washington DC, where the priest was due to give a lecture about the Bible, abruptly cancelled the event last week, after conservatives raised issues with Rev. Martin’s beliefs on LGBT issues

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre in New York also cancelled a lecture by Rev. Martin, confirming that his invite “was in fact rescinded”.

Rev. Martin had also been set to travel to London to deliver the 2017 lecture for Cafod, the overseas aid agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

After the backlash, the event was shelved entirely, with Martin confirming that “cancellation of the 2017 Cafod lecture, scheduled for October, was out of fears of the backlash to my book”.

In a statement to PinkNews Cafod claimed that the 2017 lecture was actually just ‘postponed’ until next year for scheduling reasons and that an invitation “still stands” for Rev. Martin to speak in future.

Catholic Bishops in the US were recently behind a new campaign encouraging parents to reject their transgender children.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a letter this week that brands transgender people “deeply troubling” and claims that changing gender is a “false idea”.

There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people or changing gender, but the Bishops have called for parents to refuse to allow kids to transition.

Studies have shown that an unaccepting or stifling environment drastically increases the likelihood that transgender youths will attempt suicide.

The letter says: “Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can ‘change’ their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults.

“Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honour the basic medical principle of ‘first, do no harm’.

“Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt.

“The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it. ”

The letter adds: “The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling.

“It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.

“We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all.

“We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.”