Is the World Meeting of Families discredited?

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.


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  1. Mary Vallely says:

    I’d be more inclined to hope that instead of wishing a dose of ‘flu on our 80 year old Pontiff that Eddie Finnegan’s hopes may be realised and that Francis will treat us to a little of his own public ‘skillet scraping’ on Ash Wednesday. Not a term mind you I’d ever heard here in the primatial city but then country people often had a richness of expression we townies envied.
    Let us see what Lent brings and pray that the trust which has been lost is resurrected in some way. I would not be optimistic at this moment in time about the WMoF being a healing process. By the way, I do realise, Tony, it was a tongue in cheek remark about the ‘ flu! You love this Pope dearly as do we all. ❤️

  2. Hi there, The thing that people occupy themselves with.

    In Ireland, the church in Ireland is ‘heading off a cliff’ and it is worried if the possibility of a same sex could appears in some literature or if a female preacher give a speech……

    It like not being able to see the wood from the trees…..

    When will the membership of the church wake up to the reality that it is in a complete crisis….where it its leadership and its vision…

    It needs leadership now more than ever……..

  3. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Surely a mountain is being make out of a molehill?
    I did not see the original booklet; I’ve just seen the pictures shown on
    As I see it, none of the original pictures necessarily suggest gay same-sex relationships. The can just as easily be of friends – okay, that’s a same-sex relationship, but not in the sense suggested! Even what’s described as a rainbow tattoo is not a rainbow. The two people in hoodies show no clue as to their gender. It’s perfectly normal for two people of the same sex to hug without any suggestion that they are in a sexual relationship.
    To interpret the pictures shown as suggesting same-sex sexual relationships tells us more about those interpreting them in that way than about the people in the pictures.
    As to why the pictures were changed, I can only surmise that the WMoF organisers were unwise if the reason was as suggested.
    If the WMoF is in danger of losing all credibility, it is not on account of the booklet, but on account of the possible disconnect with the world described by Seamus Ahearne.

  4. Frances Burke says:

    I’d have to agree with you Padraig. We are gone way too far with all this Political Correctness mullarkey. It’s about time we put our energies into creating a more tolerant and less judgmental society instead of spending it editing a booklet in case it presents the wrong image to the Pope. Who are we kidding??

    In relation to Fr. Flannery’s article, if the Pope gets a ‘flu’ next August, I fear it will turn into pneumonia for the Church. He is the head of the Catholic Church and if he abdicates his LEADERSHIP responsibility it will have far reacting negative repercussions.

  5. I hope Pope Francis comes to the WMoTF and that he will offer to us a fresh expression of our faith, how it is to lived out in the complexity of our modern society.
    I share the disappointment of many that the ‘field hospital’ spirituality that Pope Francis recommends, one that suggests rather than demands, have yet to be implemented in our Church.
    I look forward to it.

  6. Francis@5, As to things which have yet to be implemented in our church, there are only too many! One small indication of the mentality of those who still hold the purse strings came to us here last year when in our parish bulletin we had a request for twelve MALE volunteers for the washing of feet ceremony. This in a parish where we had for quite a number of years had women included – a deliberate slap in the face not only to them, but also to Pope Francis whose washing of the feet of women and people of other faiths, hindus and muslims, had been well publicised in recent years. I won`t waste time by predicting the terms of this year`s request. Unlike you, Francis, I`m past being disappointed in the mentality of our “leaders” in the church, and I`m not looking forward to anything from them.

  7. Would it be sensible to judge this event ‘discredited’ simply because the organisers are cack-handed?

    Given the dire state of crisis of the Irish church – mostly caused by a clericalist terror of convening the Irish people of God for anything other than prayer and liturgy – any event that will allow them to meet together freely, and to meet with others from abroad, should surely be taken advantage of.

    The fact that this event – and this year – is to be centred on Family is surely an opportunity to begin restoring the role of Irish families in faith formation – a role tragically undermined by the same clericalist fear of discussion and mistaken over-dependence upon Catholic schools for that purpose.

    Yes of course there will again right-wing posturing and attempted thought-control – but there will also be sincerity of purpose in most of those who take the trouble to attend.

    And what if there is an LGBT presence there that finds no welcome? The organisers don’t have the power to prevent such a welcome, so why not attend for that purpose too?

  8. Gerard Moloney says:

    What angers and frustrates is the extraordinary power that a tiny minority of right-wing fanatics wield in the church – how they have harassed people like Fr James Martin in the United States and others here. Bullies of the worst kind, declaring themselves to be the defenders and saviours of the faith.

  9. John Collins says:

    Welcome to the world meeting of families… OPS…. Welcome to the world meeting of some families, not all families, we apologise for the mistake. I’m not sure who knew or who made the change. In the real world most people could not care less as we hammer another nail into just how irrelevant we have become as a church. I am so sad for Pope Francis who clearly is fighting a lone battle for inclusion. As he says himself he prays for those who brand him a heritic. I will add my pray to his.

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