Ireland’s gay leader Leo Varadkar plans to tell Pope Francis that LGBT exclusion ‘really hurts’

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar holds a press conference after the European Council on December 14, 2018, in Brussels.

Ireland’s gay leader Leo Varadkar plans to tell Pope Francis that the exclusion of LGBT+ people from the Catholic Church “really hurts.”

He also hopes to tell him that he profoundly disagrees with the church’s terminology that casts LGBT+ people as “intrinsically disordered.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty)

Varadkar, who is Ireland’s first openly gay Taoiseach, said there is a conflict for LGBT+ Catholics between “who they are and the rules of the faith which they follow.”

He says that he will raise the issue of hurtful language and the exclusion of LGBT+ people with Pope Francis if he has the opportunity.

He made the comments in an interview with Irish state broadcaster RTÉ ahead of Pope Francis’s arrival in Ireland on Saturday for the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event which takes place every three years.

He said that he will enter into his meeting with Pope Francis with a sense of welcome and respect, but added that he will tell him that the Church must admit to its own sins.

Varadkar said that Irish people want him to communicate the message that the Catholic Church needs to do more to deal with child sexual abuse scandals.

He said that he also hopes to draw attention to the exclusion of women and divorced people from the church.

The World Meeting of Families has been the source significant controversy in recent months in relation to the event’s stance on LGBT+ people.

Organisers came under fire from LGBT+ groups and Catholics after it was revealed that they removed images of LGBT+ people from their official booklet.

Some Catholic LGBT+ organisations have also accused organisers of excluding them from the event after they had their applications for exhibition stalls refused.

One group, called We Are Church Ireland, which advocates for the full equality of women and LGBT+ people in the church, said they had called organisers almost fortnightly inquiring about the status of their application.


“The constant reply has been: ‘Yes, we received your application but it is on hold,'” they said.

Charles McQuillan/Getty

Despite this, Fr James Martin, a pro-LGBT+ Jesuit priest, gave an address yesterday at the World Meeting of Families where he said that church teaching on LGBT+ people made them feel like lepers. It is thought to be the first time the Vatican has organised an LGBT+ discussion at an event.

Protests will be held in Ireland as the pope visit commences. One demonstration, called Stand For Truth, has been organised by Irish activist and child-sexual abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman.

The openly gay charity boss has spoken openly about his own experiences of having been sexually abused as a teenager by a priest.

Pope Francis will depart from Rome tomorrow morning to travel to Dublin for the World Meeting of Families, and will have an official welcome at the residence of Ireland’s president.

During his trip, he is expected to meet with homeless families, and will say mass in Knock and Dublin before returning to Rome.