World Meeting of Families

I love this letter in today’s Irish Times by Angela Hanley. I think that by any standards the organizers of the World Meeting of Families have made a major mistake by redacting their booklet, and getting rid of any reference, by picture or text, to same sex couples. And their response, – a bland statement saying everyone is welcome, – is totally inadequate. We are now left with the suspension that the American right-wing website, LifeSiteNews, is calling the shots. There is a further suspicion that certain financial contributions for right-wing sources may be exerting an influence. I really hope this is not the case.
I very much wish Francis’ visit to this country goes well, and that there won’t be any extraneous stuff between us and his message, which I believe will be really worth hearing. But the only way this can now be achieved is for the organisers to publicly explain why exactly they changed the content of the leaflet/booklet. They must realise that the age of secrecy in Church affairs is over, and there must be complete transparency in all matters to do with this event.
Angela’s letter is well worth reading:

 Sir, – Patsy McGarry’s article on the expunging of photos of same-sex couples from a booklet prepared for the World Meeting of Families does not say who gave the order to do so (“Images of same-sex couples removed from World Meeting of Families booklet”, News, January 30th). Somebody, or a committee of somebodies, took this decision and gave the instruction. I think we are entitled to know who this person is, not only to ask him or her why, but also because there is to be State funding for this event. If a church’s pastoral event is to get taxpayers’ money, the taxpayer is entitled to have some explanation as to the organisers “cleansing” of photos of same-sex couples and the implicit discrimination and exclusion of that action.

The right-wing website believed to have influenced the decision says that the Catholic Church “declares authoritatively and for all time” against “homosexual acts.” Do we really need to remind church leaders that no “teaching” can take place without “reception”? The church can “teach” all it likes, but if the people don’t accept it, it ceases to be teaching and becomes diktat. Teaching is a dynamic act – call and response. Also, when one teaches, it ought to be from a position of knowledge. The 2003 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on same-sex unions displays abysmal ignorance about the reality of same-sex attraction. Not only that, it also displays a determined resistance to learning in order to teach authentically.

A truly inclusive act would be to include a same-sex headed family in a prominent way during the World Meeting of Families event. They are part of the fabric of Irish society as familial units. It may be a cliché, but it remains forever true: actions speak louder than words. – Yours, etc,

Angela Hanley