Catholic priests' group disappointed over Vatican event - gay couple references dropped

Pope Francis with Cardinal Kevin Farrel, second from left, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, right, and a group of familes from Ireland at the Vatican
Brendan Hughes

THE Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland has expressed disappointment that 'non-traditional' families were not brought to meet Pope Francis at a Vatican meeting held as his visit to Dublin was announced.

Families of "different make-ups" should have been included to signal that Dublin's World Meeting of Families (WMF) welcomes single-parent households, couples in second relationships and gay couples with children, the group said.

It comes amid questions from the association over why references to gay couples were dropped from official WMF material.

The body has urged Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, to clarify why the references were removed.

Pope Francis will visit Dublin in August as the city hosts WMF, an international Catholic event staged every three years.

Yesterday Archbishop Martin was accompanied by two Irish families at the Vatican as Pope Francis was given an icon depicting the Holy Family that is being used by this year's World Meeting.

In a press release, the families were described as the Tobin family from Co Kildare and the Bushell family who live in Rome.

The Tobin family included Brenda, who is also known as Brenda Drumm – WMF 2018's communications manager who has been seconded from Ireland's Catholic Communications Office.

The bishops' spokesman told RTÉ there was no reason for the omission of Ms Drumm's professional name from the Church's official pre-publicity, beyond that she had asked the Catholic Communications Office to assist her with publicity as she was participating in the Vatican event.

In recent weeks, it emerged an image of a same-sex couple was removed from an official WMF booklet.

A clip of Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Cork-born Bishop David O'Connell, was also edited out of a promotional video for WMF 2018.

In the removed footage, Bishop O'Connell offered welcoming words for gay people raising children and people in second marriages.

He said: "Pope Francis, he gets it. Today there are all sorts of configurations of families – mum and dad; mum or dad on their own; gay couple raising children; people in second marriages."

WMF told RTÉ the bishop's words had been included inadvertently, and that the same video still includes "powerful testimonies ...on the LGBTQ issue".

Organisers emphasised that its spirit is in-keeping with Pope Francis's view that "every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration".

The Irish bishops' spokesman also told RTÉ the Dublin event's programme would reflect Pope Francis's approach of "not holding back from highlighting the joys as well as the challenges facing the modern family".

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