LGBTQI+ people are "as much a part of the Church as Pope Francis", World Meeting of Familes told
"Never underestimate the pain LGBT people have suffered."
The topics of LGBTQI communities within the Catholic Faith, the #MeToo controversy and Catholic Church cover-ups were all referenced during the second day of the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) event held in Dublin this week.
Day two of the conference – a Catholic event held in Dublin all this week – got underway at the RDS on Thursday and saw a number of delegates discuss a range of topics, including marriage, parenting and the impact of technology on families.
The event, which aims to celebrate Roman Catholic families across the world, held a session on 'Showing Welcome and Respect in our parishes for LGBT members and their families'.
Speaking at the festival in Dublin, Fr James Martin said gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholics had been “deeply wounded” by the church.
Fr Martin – a high profile Jesuit priest from New York who has written extensively about the need for dialogue between the gay community and the Catholic Church – delivered a talk on how the Church could be more welcoming to the LGBT community.
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"I have heard some really sad stories from LGBT Catholics who have been made feel unwelcome by their parishes," he said.
"They are as much a part of the church as Pope Francis, your local bishop, your pastor or me. It's not a question of making them Catholic, they already are."
Martin also condemned the act of conversion therapy – an act which aims to "convert" homosexual people to heterosexuality – as "destructive, dangerous and rejected by almost every psychologist and psychiatrist".
He has spoken at length about this practice and how "its prominence in Catholic circles is an embarrassment".
Father Martin is a well-known priest on the east coast of North America and was chosen specifically to speak during the Candlelight Vigil For Philip Seymour Hoffman in New York City back in 2014.
The topic of the #MeToo movement was also discussed on the second day of WMOF, with the Bishop of Chicago Blase Cupich making reference to the recent Hollywood movement in regards to the church's own scandals, which he labelled "an infected boil".
"People are finding freedom to come forward when they see accusations against certain individuals," he said.
"This might seem threatening to people within the church as it could prompt others to demand justice in their circumstances, but I feel this is the only way we can lance this boil that is so infected.
"This is a dark moment for the church, a black moment, it's causing us shame. The real darkness is within the victims, that is where Jesus is, and we must always put the victims first."
When asked about the topic of LGBTQI+ members of the church, Archbishop Martin said he was not aware of Catholic conversion therapy for LGBT people in Ireland.
"Conversion, change and repentance is something that is offered to all Christians but I don't fully understand the idea of conversion therapy," he said.
"I don't actually fully understand the idea of conversion therapy. I do think a call to chastity, which is there for all Catholics with regard to sexual activity outside of marriage, is something that is very real but I wouldn't support this idea of some type of psychotherapy happening within a church setting."