LGBT Catholic group ‘shut out’ of Pope family conference

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at Cointrin airport in Geneva, on June 21 2018 after a one-day visit at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WWC). - Pope Francis visited the World Council of Churches on 21 June as centrepiece of the ecumenical commemoration of the WCC's 70th anniversary. (Photo by DENIS BALIBOUSE / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read DENIS BALIBOUSE/AFP/Getty Images)

An LGBT Catholic group has alleged that they are being deliberately shut out of the World Meeting of Families conference, which is set to be attended by the Pope.

The World Meeting of Families meeting that is set to take place in Ireland next month had already been marred by controversy over disputes over LGBT families.

Organisers were forced to remove all references to homosexuality and same-sex parents from booklets produced ahead of the event following pressure from anti-LGBT Catholic lobbyists.

Pope Francis greets the crowd before celebrating a mass during the ecumenical meeting at the World Council of Churches (WCC) at Palexpo hall in Geneva, on June 21, 2018. - Pope Francis visits the World Council of Churches on 21 June as centrepiece of the ecumenical commemoration of the WCC's 70th anniversary. (Photo by MARTIAL TREZZINI / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTIAL TREZZINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis greets a crowd in Geneva (MARTIAL TREZZINI/AFP/Getty)

The dispute has become politically charged in Ireland, which takes a progressive stance on LGBT issues that is at odds with the Church’s official stances on gay families.

It has now emerged that a pro-LGBT Catholic group is being prevented from taking part in the event.

We Are Church Ireland, which advocates for LGBT inclusivity, went public to allege that the group is “being refused an exhibition stand” at the event  “because WAC Ireland stands for the full equality of Women and LGBTQI people.

The group explained: “We responded positively to the invitation by the WMoF that all were welcome to participate as one family in welcoming Pope Francis to Ireland.

“On 14th February 2018 we submitted an application with the required deposit for an exhibition stand in the Main Hall of the R.D.S during the Pastoral Congress, 23-25 August 2018.

“To date, 5 months later, we still have not received the courtesy of a written response.”

It added: “Almost fortnightly, we have rung the WMoF inquiring about the status of our application. The constant reply has been: ‘Yes, we received your application but it is on hold’.

“Upon inquiring as to when a decision on our application would be made we were told that it was up to those at the executive level to inform us.

“As no information was forthcoming, on the 25th May we sent a registered letter to Fr. Tim Bartlett, Secretary General of the WMoF and copied it to Dr Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and President of WMoF, asking for the courtesy of a decision on our application. Both these letters were also ignored.”

Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter’s Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on. (Franco Origlia/Getty)

The group added: “Still having received no decision by the middle of July, and with the WMoF’s own deadlines having expired, we finally cancelled our deposit.

“The lack of the most basic courtesy in dealing with our application, made in good faith, shows a serious lack of respect to WAC Ireland and is a total contradiction to the advertised ‘all are welcome’ inclusivity of the WMoF, which continues with its stealth tactics used already against gay people by erasing pictures of LGBTQI couples from its official brochure earlier this year.”

The group spokesperson Brendan Butler added: “This refusal by the WMoF to engage with We Are Church Ireland and in effect to reject our application shows a closed and exclusive mentality which contradicts Pope Francis’s constant calls for dialogue in the Catholic Church.”

Organisers have not responded to the allegations.

Pope Francis smiles as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at Vatican. (TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty)

Earlier this year Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who is gay, intervened in the issue to express a hope that LGBT families would also be celebrated at the event.

He said: “The Government is very much of the view that there are many different types of families and that all types should be celebrated, including the traditional nuclear family with the man married to the woman with children, but also one-parent families, families led by grandparents, and families led by same-sex couples.

“We will make it known in our meetings with the organisers that in line with our commitment to personal liberty and equality before the law, the Government’s view is that families in all their forms should be celebrated.”

His comments were supported by Ireland’s former President Mary McAleese, a devout Catholic and a strong advocate for LGBT rights.