24 July 2018. The GNRC (Global Network of Rainbow Catholics) is “deeply dismayed and disappointed” by the lack of response from officials overseeing the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. The GNRC, representing 32 LGBTI Catholic groups from around the world, applied for an exhibit booth on 17th April 2018. Despite repeated requests for a decision about their application, and information that booth spaces are still available, GNRC has received no response.
The GNRC is not alone in not having received a response. We Are Church Ireland, a group of Catholics committed to the spirit of Vatican II, has also not been notified whether its booth application has been approved.
The silence regarding the groups’ outreach booth comes in the wake of a conflicted history on LGBTI issues for World Meeting of Families 2018. Despite early comments by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and other Irish church officials saying they expected same-gender couples and LGBTI families to be welcomed at the meeting, a promotional booklet for the Vatican-sponsored event deleted images deemed to depict same-gender couples and their families. A video also deleted remarks by Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop and Cork native David O’Connell referencing family models including “gay couple raising children, people in second marriages.” Speakers considered to be both homophobic and gay-positive are now on the agenda for the meeting.
Ruby Almeida, Co Chair of GNRC who submitted the application for a booth said, “Attempts to get a response about our exhibit booth from World Meeting of Families officials have been very frustrating. We feel completely ignored. It was our hope that we could provide support to our fellow Catholics who have LGBTI family members. Many families have questions about how to best support gay and transgender family members, what the Church really teaches about us, and how and why we choose to remain Catholics. Our hope was to provide a place where these families can have honest conversations with people who have dealt with the same questions, to provide them resources, and to help them connect with people in their own countries who might be able to provide ongoing support. We have much to offer to them, as well as to Church leaders responsible for ministering to all kinds of families.”
Ruby Almeida continued, “Due to the delay and the repeated refusal of those in charge to give us an approval, it is no longer practical for us to do this outreach. People needed to schedule time off from work and to arrange travel. The foot-dragging means that we will not be able to provide support to our fellow Catholics through an outreach booth at World Meeting of Families.”
Christopher Vella, Co-Chair of GNRC said: “The reality is that LGBTI people and families are part of the Church. There are millions of Catholics who are LGBTI, and hundreds of millions who have LGBTI family members. They deserve effective ministry and pastoral care, just like everyone else in our Church. Church officials don’t have all the answers—many have questions themselves. We are willing to be a resource for these families and for Church leaders. It is tragic that our assistance and expertise are not welcomed with enthusiasm.”
Christopher Vella added, “This seems to follow a historical pattern of editing-out LGBTI voices and Catholic LGBTI stories, the faith-filled voices of our loving Catholic families and affirming church communities. We believe that officials at the World Meeting of Families did not want to deal with further controversy related to the inclusion of Catholic LGBTI realities. Rather than face the fallout from a decision, they stalled and ignored our request. This lack of consideration for the needs of potential attendees has inconvenienced and frustrated us. We expect better of our Church.”
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics has sent letters asking for clarification about the booth to Rev. Tim Bartlett, heading the World Meeting of Families 2018 planning team, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, President of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. To date, it has not received any form of answer or acknowledgement.
The Co-Chairs noted that LGBTI families will still be represented at World Meeting of Families, even without a booth. Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA (a member group of GNRC), her wife, and their two adopted children will be attending the event. “We are part of the Catholic family,” Duddy-Burke said, “and it is important that we have a visible presence at this and other Catholic events. I look forward to hearing what questions other folks attending this meeting have, and to sharing our experience as a Catholic family.”
THE GNRC BOARD
Ruby Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel no 00 44 7960 9854 96
Christopher Vella, email@example.com, tel no 00 356 7925 3875
Marianne Duddy-Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel no 1 617 669 7810
Global Network of Rainbow Catholics 2018
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) brings together organizations and individuals who work for pastoral care and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people and their families. We work for the affirmation, inclusion, dignity and equality of our rainbow community in the Roman Catholic Church and in society. The GNRC was founded in Rome in October 2015, and legally established in Munich-Dachau in December 2017 and is registered in Italy.