23 August 2018, The Tablet

McAleese: Church must accept responsibility for LGBT pain

The Church must accept responsibility for the damage it inflicts on young LGBT people through its teaching on homosexuality, former president of Ireland Mary McAleese has said.

Speaking in Trinity College Dublin as she launched a new research project sponsored by the Wijngaards Institute on the theology of sexuality and gender, Dr McAleese referred to a 2016 study in Ireland which showed the rate of suicide among LGBT young people was twice that of the general population.

Describing the collaborative research project, which will draw from the latest scientific evidence and the testimonies of LGBT Catholics as “of seminal importance”, she said it is the “first serious attempt to use the tools of interdisciplinary scholarship to challenge, probe and interrogate church teaching in the area of homosexuality” and bring expertise to bear on the questions that need to be asked.

Referring to the upcoming synod on youth in October, she appealed to LGBT young people to tell their “harrowing stories” to delegates attending the synod.

“This synod is a unique opportunity to ensure that the advice given to Pope Francis will help the Church to navigate out of its current untenable teachings which conduce to the evil of homophobia,” she said.

Luca Badini of the Wijngaards Institute said the study aims to provide a template for examining controversial Vatican documents that are supposedly based on science. It will also provide the Vatican with the latest research on sexuality and long-term hetero- and homosexual relationships.

In a separate event organised by the Wijngaards Institute, theologians and campaigners discussed some of the topics and Catholic teachings that have drawn controversy, as well as reflecting on the communities excluded from the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. Subjects included the marginalisation of women and LGBT people; the ongoing silencing of priests and theologians; the harm caused by the papal ban on contraception; the abuse scandal and the recent abortion referendum in Ireland.

In his address, Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery said that there had been a radical change under Pope Francis which enabled people to talk about the very issues for which he had been silenced.

He said the processes of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith were “totally and absolutely unjust and abusive”.

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