Friday 20 September 2019

Organisers of Pope Francis event insist it will be "open to all"

Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Frank McGrath
Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Frank McGrath

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

THE organisers of the World Meeting of Families event that will see Pope Francis visit Ireland later this year have insisted it will be "open to all".

It comes after Children Minister Katherine Zappone, speaking at an conference in Denmark on the family life of LGBTI people,of said she hopes the event "will not be used as a platform for remarks which exclude, isolate or hurt any family,”

A spokesperson for the World Meeting of Families has told that it will be "open to all".

She said that its principle aim is to "highlight the message and spirit of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)."

In it she says the Pope: "specifically stresses that: 'every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration”'".

The spokesperson added: "The event has always been understood as an event open to all. 

"This remains the position of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin."

Ms Zappone earlier said that she hopes the World Meeting of Families in August “will extend a warm welcome to all families”.

“It is also my hope that the event organised by the Catholic Church – when Pope Francis comes to Dublin - will not be used as a platform for remarks which exclude, isolate or hurt any family,” she added.

Ms Zappone made her comments as she delivered the key note address at the Copenhagen Conference on Private and Family life for LGBTI people in the Danish Parliament.

She noted that Denmark was the first country in the world formally recognise same-sex unions.

Ms Zappone said Ireland's claim to fame is as the first country to bring in same sex marriage by popular vote.

She oultined the years of campaigning leading up to the successful 2015 referendum and said: “My late spouse Ann-Louise and I were proud to be leading the charge.”

She said there was jubilation when the referendum passed.

Ms Zappone became emotional when she said: “It’s a moment none of us will ever forget – and for my late spouse Ann Louise one which was right up there with our wedding day.”

Addressing the issue of the World Meeting of Families she said: “The leadership of Pope Francis has given hope to many. However the recent attempts to exclude our former President Mary McAleese from an event in the Vatican, together with the airbrushing out of images of LGBTI families from certain church literature related to this event is a matter of serious concern.”

Ms McAleese was a strong supporter of a 'Yes' vote in the 2015 Marriage Equality referendum.

Ms Zappone said that organisers should reflect on how this international gathering “is coming to a country where people want marriage equality, where adoption by LGBTI people is Government policy and where all families are fully respected.”

The Children Minister said: “The eyes of the world will be on Dublin. Indeed some of the biggest audiences will be in countries where LGBTI people are discriminated against, threatened and abused.”

She said there are still countries “where to 'come out' puts people and their families under threat of death.”

“The World Meeting of Families is a unique opportunity to confront such inequality, discrimination and hate.

“It can provide global leadership on inclusion.

“LGBTI Families like all families should be celebrated and not excluded – that’s the message that should be coming not just from the World Meeting of Families, but from all who believe in justice, equality and fairness,” Ms Zappone said.

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