Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families in Ireland (Photo: Korea.net | Wikimedia Commons)
A major Catholic rally, supported by the Vatican, will host a speech on welcoming gay and lesbian people to the Church.
The World Meeting of Families is a Catholic Church run event taking place in Dublin, Ireland 21-26 August. Pope Francis will attend for the final two days. It will culminate with a large-scale mass at Phoenix Park.
Reverend James Martin
The event yesterday released further program details.
Major topics of the gathering include, among other issues, the impact of technology on the family and the impact of conflict on faith and the family. But it is some of the smaller events that may raise eyebrows.
One of the invited speakers is American Jesuit priest, Rev. James ‘Jim’ Martin. He will give a presentation on welcoming LGBT Catholics and their families to parishes.
Rev. Martin has previously been noted for his views on welcoming gay people to the Church. The Manhattan-based cleric is seen as a liberal voice in the higher echelons of the Church.
Last year, he published a book: Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity.
He serves as a consultants to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications. Last month, it was Martin, working in his capacity as press adviser to the Vatican, that revealed the Pope had told a gay man that God had made him that way and loved him.
His views have upset more conservative voices in the Catholic Church. Several talks he has previously been booked to give in the US have been cancelled.
However, he looks forward to speaking at the World Meeting of Families. He told Associated Press his invitation to talk was ‘immensely significant.’
He went on to say: ‘LGBT Catholics and their parents are an important part of our church.
‘The message from the Vatican to LGBT Catholics is this: you belong.’
A London-based LGBT Catholics group welcomed the news.
‘We warmly welcome Jim Martin’s speaking role at the World Meeting of Families even if for many of us his book, Building A Bridge, is quite moderate,’ a spokesperson told GSN.
‘He has become a strong advocate for LGBT+ people, parents and families. We are are running monthly sessions, using his book, at Farm Street Jesuit Church, London, literally building a bridge between LGBT+ Catholics and straight people from other Catholic parishes in and around London.’
Besides Rev. James Martin, World Meeting of Familes will also host panels on child protection. One will feature US Cardinal Sean O’Malley. The Archbishop of Boston, O’Malley has advised the Pope on sexual abuse prevention and settled sexual abuse claims on behalf of the church. Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse, will also take part.