Sarah McDonald, in her account of the dropping of a female Episcopalian priest from the list of preachers at the Galway Novena, recounts how Anthony Murphy, editor of Catholic Voice, takes credit for forcing this change on the organisers. In the absence of comment from Galway Cathedral, we must take Mr. Murphy, at his word. He claims to represent an organization called Lumen Fidei. Mr. Murphy is also reported as having been involved in the recalling of the initial leaflet issued by the organizers of the World Meeting of Families and the amended leaflet in which a number of photographs that could suggest same sex relationships, and a sentence of the text, were deleted. While it is possible that Mr. Murphy is making exaggerated claims for his importance, in the absence of any explanation from those taking responsibility for the World Meeting of Families as to the reason for the withdrawal of the original leaflet, we are again forced to give some credibility to his remarks.
The removal of the sentence from the original is even more interesting than the removal of the photos, since, while not being a direct quotation from Pope Francis, it is certainly an accurate representation of his consistent teaching, most notably in Amoris Laetitia:
“While the Church upholds the ideal of marriage as a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, other unions exist which provide mutual support to the couple. Pope Francis encourages us never to exclude but to accompany these couples also, with love, care and support.”
Anthony Murphy’s views, as expressed in the Catholic Voice and elsewhere, closely resemble some of the more ultra conservative groups and websites in the United States. These groups, which are very well funded, appear to be vehemently opposed to Pope Francis and his teaching, and are doing everything they can to undermine his efforts at reform of the Church.
The organisers of the WMOF need to publicly explain why exactly they removed the photographs, and the text. Unless they do so, they are handing over responsibility for transmission of the Christian message on inclusivity to people who, in my opinion, could be said to pose as false prophets. ( I am quite aware of the irony of my last sentence, given that I have been given the same label! One must preserve one’s sense of humour in these matters). As of now the message that is being taken from withdrawal of the leaflet is that only marriage relationships that are in complete accord with Church teaching are welcome at the event. And Diarmaid Martin’s statement at the time of the change, that everyone is welcome, is absurdly hollow and meaningless.
So we are left with the impression that decisions about the WMOF are being dictated by small powerful groups, who are likely opposed to the Pope. It is in serious danger of losing all credibility.
The World Meeting of Families is also scheduled to take place about two months after the vote on the proposal to repeal the 8th amendment to Bunreacht na hEireann. (The Constitution ofIreland) Chris Hayden said in a recent newspaper article, that anyone who thinks that the referendum on ‘Repeal the Eight” would settle the matter once and for all is greatly deluded. I agree, because whatever the result of the referendum, the residue and the divisiveness will carry on into the Autumn, and will impact on the welcome the Pope receives. If I was advising the Pope, I would suggest to him that he would arrange to get a dose of flu next August that would prevent him from travelling. The combination of post referendum discord and the silence from the organisers that is accompanying the retraction of the leaflet, means, I believe, that he would be well advised to stay away.