3 February 2018
The Vatican has barred former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, from participating in a conference to mark International Women's Day which was originally scheduled to take place at the Casina Pio IV within Vatican City. The venue has now been moved to a site away from the Vatican and McAleese continues to be a speaker. McAleese, who is a criminal lawyer, has a doctorate in canon law and is the mother of a gay son. She has been outspoken in her criticism of the Church's position on women and LGBT issues. "It's hard to believe in Pope Francis's vision of a 'welcoming Church' when a Dicastery of the Vatican, that is meant to support women, censors their voices," says Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Advisory Board member of Voices of Faith and a Strategy Team member of Catholic Church Reform Int'l. Although the event has been held in the Vatican for four years, not a single Cardinal has ever attended it.
In June 2017, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois ordered priests of his diocese not to preside at a gay marriage, not to give Communion to married gay couples, and not to allow a church funeral for a deceased same-sex spouse. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, through his vicar general, followed by denying a Catholic funeral to a "Person in a Homosexual Civil or Notorious Union." Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the Maryland-based New Ways Ministry, which actively supports the LGBT community, said that while other bishops, like Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and former Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., have issued similar decrees, none has gone as far as Paprocki, especially in denying church funerals and punishing pastoral ministers.
CCRI calls on the faithful to speak out against such exclusion. "Who is unforgivable: gay couples or bishops who ban them from the Sacraments?" asks Rene Reid, director of CCRI. "It is time for the People of God to support women in leadership roles and welcome practicing gay couples who present themselves in good faith to the sacraments."
Bishops and others who believe that committed same-sex couples are in a sinful union need to be reminded of Jesus inviting the one who is without sin to cast the first stone. CCRI supports Pope Francis who has said the Church must no longer sit in judgment of those who fail to live up to the Gospel's ideals of marriage and family life. In his Amoris Laetitia, Latin for "The Joy of Love," Pope Francis establishes that he sees individual conscience as the most important principle for Catholics attempting to navigate difficult issues surrounding sex, marriage, and family life. "We have been called to form consciences, not replace them," said the pope. We applaud Francis as he continually guides his bishops to shift from emphasis on doctrine to mercy in confronting some of the "irregular" situations facing the Faithful.
One bishop who has walked this path is Patrick J. McGrath of the diocese of San Jose, California who issued a letter stating that when it comes to "members of the LGBT community," his diocese "will not refuse sacraments or Christian Burial to anyone who requests them in good faith." We congratulate the majority of Catholic bishops worldwide who, at the end of the 2015 Synod on the Family, called for a more welcoming and inclusive church endorsing Pope Francis's call for a more merciful and less judgmental church.
We are disillusioned however, by a Church that preaches inclusion but continues to practice exclusion; that upholds equality but discriminates within its fold; that reaches out to the margins but marginalizes its own; that takes a courageous stand for justice in the world but sacralizes gender injustice; that is sensitive to the invisible and the silenced but has no space for different voices. "It is a matter of conscience and our Christian duty," says Rene Reid, "to stand in solidarity with all those who are finding it difficult and painful to stay in the Church because of its exclusivist policies. CCRI calls upon all people who see the injustice of such behavior to go now to www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org and make your voices heard by adding your signatures and/or your comments.