DUBLIN — If the organizers of the World Meeting of Families had any hope of playing down LGBTQ issues in the church, those aspirations were quickly and ably dashed by LGBTQ Catholic activists and their allies in Dublin this week.
As Sarah Mac Donald reported in NCR, the campaigning began one day before the World Meeting of Families even kicked off with the launch of a new academic research project, sponsored by the Wijngaards Institute, on the theology of sexuality and gender. (Full disclosure, I spoke at the press event and a panel presentation that followed.)
Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, who led the launch, spoke powerfully about the church's need to be accountable for the harm its teachings have inflicted on LGBT people, particularly youth. She referred to a 2016 LGBT Ireland Report that found that one-third of LGBT youth has attempted suicide.
The event also included a poignant testimony from Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, who recounted the struggles that she and her wife, Becky, had trying to adopt their two children, Emily and Finn, from a Catholic agency.
On Wednesday afternoon, as the World Meeting of Families' first sessions were wrapping up at the Royal Dublin Society (or, RDS, as it's known in Dublin), a new campaign called Equal Future 2018 hosted a press conference at a pub just across the street.
Calling itself "the largest ever global initiative of LGBT groups and faith groups," Equal Future 2018 is a movement to "raise awareness of the damage done to children when they grow up feeling that being LGBT is wrong.
The catalyst for this new project is the Catholic Church's upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment to be held in Rome the first week of October.