Sunday 22 April 2018

'Families of all shapes and forms should be celebrated' during Pope's Irish visit - Varadkar

Pope Francis. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters
Pope Francis. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said “families in all their shapes and forms should be celebrated” when Pope Francis visits Ireland next August.

Mr Varadkar said the Government will relay this message to the organisers of the Pope’s visit which coincides with a world meeting of families.

He told the Dáil that “the Government is very much of the view that there are many different types of family and all types of family should be celebrated”.

The Taoiseach added that this was all “in line with the Government’s commitment to personal liberty and equality before the law.” That view would be relayed by Ireland’s embassy to the Vatican but would not seek to impose government views on a religious body.

Mr Varadkar said families took many forms. These include the traditional nuclear family, the man married to the woman with children, but also one parent families, families led by grandparents and families led by same sex couples.

“And we will make it known in our meetings with the organisers that that is the Government’s view, that families in all their shapes and forms should be celebrated. That’s in line with the Government’s commitment to personal liberty and equality before the law,” Mr Varadkar said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

“We’re also committed to freedom of religion and separation of church and State so while we will express that view we’re not going to try to impose that view on a religious body,” the Taoiseach added.

Mr Varadkar was responding to questions from Fianna Fáil TD, Robert Troy, who also said he was concerned the Catholic Church might only welcome traditional families to the meeting in Dublin which Pope Francis is due to attend on August 25 and 26.

Mr Troy said he had personally signed  up as a volunteer for the event. He noted that originally the Catholic Church produced “pamphlets and booklets demonstrating more than the traditional Irish family”.

“But they’ve moved away from welcoming the non-traditional Irish family. And given the fact that it was a country one of the first to have a referendum to establish marriage equality in the gay community I think that is regrettable,” Deputy Troy said.

He asked the Taoiseach to use his offices through the embassy to make that point known. “I think it’s only right and proper that members of all families, not just traditional families would be welcome to participate in the world meeting of families,” Deputy Troy added.

The Taoiseach compared the visit to the Papal visit in 1979 and Queen Elizabeth’s  visit in 2011. He told Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, it was appropriate that the Government should meet the security costs of Pope Francis’s visit and the vast majority of people would welcome this.

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