Throughout our time in Dublin, we spoke to as many people as we could about their feelings about Pope Francis, the World Meeting of Families, and the church. They included taxi drivers, hotel staff, restaurant waitstaff, store clerks and others. Not one was excited by the Pope’s visit, and most expressed deep anger about the abuse of children and women, and about what they saw as the church’s arrogance on many issues. Many told of their own experience growing up in the church and walking out at some point or drifting away. Older people said none of their children attend Mass, and few of them did, and the younger people said they have no use for the church.

While there wasn’t a whole lot on the official WMF agenda about LGBTQI people, there was a lot going on in the space around the meeting! The day before WMF began, the Wijngaards Institute, an international Catholic think tank, announced the launch of a major study that will combine academic analysis and personal testimonials of LGBTQI people in examining the theological claim that being LGBTQI is “objectively disordered.” Former Irish President and canon lawyer Mary McAleese led the news conference and focused on the tremendous harm done to children and youth, who are among those most vulnerable to the impact of such teachings.

It was clear that the issue of LGBTI people and families would be a hot-button issue in Dublin. A series of controversies had marked the months leading up to the event. Despite at least two Irish bishops expressing hope that the WMF2018 would be welcoming for same-sex couples, images and comments that were LGBTI-inclusive were deleted from early versions of WMF2018 promotional materials. The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics was denied a booth in the WMF Exhibit Hall, as was We Are Church Ireland, which has been in the forefront of Catholic advocacy for LGBTI equality in that country. James Martin, SJ’s invitation to talk on how parishes could be more LGBTI inclusive was intensely protested and a petition calling for its cancellation was circulated widely.

Our family recently traveled to Dublin, Ireland for the 2018 World Meeting of Families. Two of the coalitions that DignityUSA is part of, Equally Blessed and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, had hoped to send delegates to this meeting, but by the time funding was in place and the people had been selected, registration had closed. My wife, our two adopted teenage children and I wound up being the only openly LGBTI family registered for this Vatican event, as far as we know.

By Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA Executive Director

A blessed and glorious Pride month to all! This year there is more to celebrate than at any previous time in history. As we march, pray, and celebrate, let us give thanks for every act of bravery from every individual who has worked to end systemic oppression of LGBTQ people. Every act of coming out as LGBT, or as a proud family member or ally, every challenge of a hurtful joke or slur, every step taken to witness against injustice, helped to bring us to this day. As we revel in the stunning victory of marriage equality in Ireland and await what is widely expected to be a Supreme Court decision that makes marriage equality the law of the US, we live in a time of incredible social transformation.