Text of presentation by Kate Moynihan, CEO LINC on recent ACI Zoom
Taken from ACI website:
On the evening of the 28th October 2021, Kate Moynihan, CEO of LINC spoke on an ACI ZOOM presentation about the lived experience of the LGBTQI+ community in Ireland and the experience of LGBTQI+ Catholics.
(LINC is a unique organisation within the Republic of Ireland, committed to informing and impacting upon social inclusion policy and practice and providing peer support services to the lesbian and bisexual community.)
In the early stages of the Synodal Pathway, this was a rare and precious opportunity for lay people, religious, priests and bishops present to listen and learn directly from a leader of the Irish LGBTQI+ community, who was willing to speak to us.
We are thankful to Kate for engaging with us, in her capacity as advocate for the LINC members she represents, who still identify as Catholics and who feel the weight of the injustice inflicted on them by our Church.
In her talk Kate provided a broad historical perspective of LGBTQI+ oppression in Ireland; insights from academic research on the contemporary lived experience of LGBTQI+ individuals here and powerful and poignant anecdotal accounts of being an LGBTQI+ Catholic.
One of the most alarming research findings that Kate spoke about is the vulnerability of young LGBTQI+ people, compared to their non-LGBTQI+ peers. LGBTQI+ youth are twice as likely to experience self-harm, three times more likely to experience suicide ideation, and four times more likely to experience extreme stress, anxiety, and depression.
Kate spoke to us about the subtle and pervasive nature of homophobia and the importance of engaging in LGBTQI+ Diversity Awareness and Training so that we can recognise and deconstruct our own latent homophobia and learn to become allies who help create the change needed in our communities, including our Church communities, so that everyone belongs equally and can feel pride and joy in who they are.
Kate Moynihan text…
I must say I found Kate’s openness and honesty refreshing and humbling but it was also eye opening for this pensioner as the word rejection was used so many times. How can a Church that purports to follow Jesus have failed to reach out to those with same sex orientation- have failed to show love!
Only two churches in Ireland are openly welcoming to the gay community, both being in Cork city, the Unitarian Church and St Ann’s Anglican which has two LGBTQ services with an LGBTQ choir twice a year. They also display the Rainbow flag. A simple suggestion was made that perhaps at least one church in each diocese could declare itself to be LGBTQ friendly?
Kate cited statistics which show how badly we need to talk about these issues. e.g. In 2016, 70% of LGBTQ 14-16-year-olds in school had suicidal thoughts and a National Survey in 2019 showed that 70% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school.
The CDF said that same sex unions cannot receive a blessing yet blessings can be conferred on inanimate objects like cars, houses and weapons of war!
Positives:- There were 6 Catholic bishops in attendance at this Zoom session. When Kate heard that she was really, really surprised and delighted. I shared her feelings but wondered why we are so slow to learn!
Suggestions from Kate to us:-
Make yourselves aware, educate yourselves. Get LGBTQ training. Be an ally and stand up and tell people you welcome LGBTQ people!
Take part in Pride events. Have a banner.
Challenge homophobia wherever you find it. Challenge your clergy.
Allies are so important said Kate.
Warning- “Let us pray for our LGBTQ people” implies that they are disordered.
An elderly lady’s remark when Kate was canvassing in the Marriage Equality Referendum that she would vote yes because “Ah sure, that could happen to any of us,” hurt Kate more than anything. Again the implication was that she had an affliction. We all need to be aware of our unconscious biases.
I found it a wonderful, open and honest talk which certainly caused me to challenge my own unconscious biases. We need to start having these conversations. We all know too that it is vitally important within priesthood to have these conversations. How much damage has been caused by internalised self hatred as it is generally accepted that a proportion of priesthood has a same sex orientation. Difficult conversations must be held.
Many, many more young people will walk away from the Church unless we face up to the fact that our LGBTQ members do not feel welcome in the Catholic Church. That is the heartbreaking reality.
Kate Moynihan text…
High suicide rate among gay adolescents was known 40 years ago. The attitude of the bishops was ‘we cannot make a noise about homosexuality because it is a taboo subject and the faithful will think the church has gone off the deep end.’
There was at least one service for gays in a Catholic church in Dublin then.
Considering that so many priests are gay and open to sexual experience we have to see this ‘silence of Sodom’ as the height of wicked hypocrisy. But even if all priests were straight, it would still be a scandal of inhumanity that they were silent for so long though aware of the damage being done to the most vulnerable.
Kate Moynihan text…
Very much appreciate Soline drawing our attention to this piece from ACIreland and congratulations to everyone involved in its production. It addresses some of the same issues as the NYT ‘Pope Francis sent me a letter’ article but in a much more level headed and articulate way.
I’ve a feeling much of the Synod’s time will be taken up with this subject – a discussion that will be all the more fruitful if conservative voices can also “experience a sense of wellbeing and belonging”. (Unfortunately I’ve already heard of conservatives being excluded point blank from animator roles by Parish Priests in Dublin.)
The NYT piece and this ACIreland article are both centered on the idea that LGB individuals face serious discrimination today based on their sexual orientation. In my response to the NYT piece I wondered about the degree to which this is true.
Thanks to this article I’ve had a chance to read the 2016 LGBTIreland Report. And I still have questions about the degree to which there is discrimination in Ireland today.
The report finds that many LGB people experienced bullying and negativity in schools, colleges and workplaces. It then breaks these statistics down by subgroups in the LGB community. Unfortunately the survey doesn’t contain a control group of non LGB people for comparison. We have no idea how much of the self reported bullying for example is down to the victims being LGB and how much is part of the general work or school environment. We don’t know how the desire to miss or skip school or work compares with that of non LGB students. Likewise for the desire to actually quit school or work.
People who might wish to make a point in the Synod about LGB discrimination probably owe it to themselves to base it on firmer statistics than these. Plenty of time to carry out a new survey of course.
It would be important to do that though. This report doesn’t give us a firm statistical basis for believing that these individuals experience any worse levels of negativity in college or work as a result of being LGB. On the other hand we do know that being LGB is strongly correlated with mental health issues LGBTQI youth are twice as likely to experience self-harm, three times more likely to experience suicide ideation, and four times more likely to experience extreme stress, anxiety, and depression. Absent any statistical proof that someone faces a worse school or college experience because of their sexual orientation one would be left asking why that strong correlation exists. Which would obviously invite other explanations.
The report also gives us some statistics about (self reported) experiences of ‘verbal hurt’ and violence. Some I find hard to believe: In 2016 5%, one in every twenty, of Irish LGB people were beaten up for being LGB. Really? Not threatened, they were actually physically attacked between Jan and Dec 2016. Fig 2.1 p80.
As already mentioned, some of this reported discrimination would need to be compared with the experience of non LGB people. 30% of LGB report being verbally hurt in 2016. How many of the general population would report having heard something hurtful that year?
The report characterises much of the verbal hurt and homophobia as “latent” and “subtle”. Kate Moynihan says this homophobia can come from people who are trying to offer support and empathy.
I have questions about how much discrimination Irish LGB people face today. But I think I can reduce all those questions to just one.
If I say ‘I believe that the only valid form of marriage is between a man and a woman’ does that count as me being verbally hurtful?
Is the definition of LGB oppression being used here so broad that it includes hearing someone say that. Am I supposed to apologise for saying it? I’d genuinely like to know if when contributors here talk about the hurt and harm that LGB people face are we talking about a notion of hurt and harm that stretches all the way to include something like that. (And am I being verbally hurt myself when someone talks about two men getting married?)
The one quote from the ACIreland article that most impressed me was right at the end. Whoever said this is careful and has a good understanding of how to bring people together. Unfortunately they aren’t named and no answer is given.
The question was posed: “Is it possible for the Bishops, as part of the synodal process, to engage in an apologetic, listening encounter with the LGBTQI community and their allies, that is conditional on an acceptance of traditional church teaching regarding same-sex relationships. “
P.S. Another quote from the ACIreland article: Jesus… always made strong connections with people on the margins, whose identities were diminished by the dominant, privileged group of his time… He challenged people to recognise their own prejudice and the power they wielded, simply by their status as part of a dominant, privileged group. Are you listening RTE?
Kate Moynihan text…
We can only rejoice that so many gay and lesbian couples have now found happiness together to the extent of tying the knot in a civil marriage (one out of 40 marriages in Ireland today are same-sex). Ireland has become one the world’s most lgbt-friendly countries. When we hear people sustaining the old morose brooding about ‘homosexuality’ we can only look at the many couples who have made a life together and say ‘solvitur ambulando.’
44 years ago I recommended an important film called ‘Word is Out’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsazQ3FLDo0 to a French moral theologian who had made very unhelpful utterances on gay issues. He replied, ‘I think I know enough homosexual people,’ an attitude still rife in French Catholicism. The American film was light years away from anything available in France.
Of course the Catholic Church is far more enlightened in Western Europe than in benighted Poland or Uganda, and the Church is doing nothing to stop the horrendous distortion of its image in those countries.
Text of Presentation by Kate Moynihan.
International support also needed: