Protesters interrupt Mass for LGBTQ pilgrims at WYD

LGBTQ pilgrims

LGBTQ pilgrims at a special Mass organised for them at World Youth Day (WYD) last Thursday found themselves facing a group of ultra-traditionalist Catholic protesters.

Earlier that same day, Pope Francis spoke at three different venues, telling the half a million WYD pilgrims that the Church must be a home for everyone.

Despite the Pope’s clear directives in this respect, it seems not everyone took his words to heart.

The protest

When the two dozen Catholics gathered for Mass, the protest group began to chant “a reparatory prayer” in an effort to disrupt the prayers.

Noted British theologian and openly gay priest Fr James Alison was one of three concelebrants of the Mass.

He says the 12 protesters, who wore long mantillas and held crucifixes, increasingly raised their voices in an effort to drown out the priests and congregants during Mass.

Police, who were aware of a potential disturbance, quickly escorted the protesters out of the church. The Mass continued without further incident.

Alison says the interruption highlights the challenges LGBTQ Catholics face in trying to practise their faith.

Building the roadblocks

Roadblocks to prevent the Mass began several days earlier.

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics and a local Portuguese LGBTQ Catholic group organising the Mass had to find a new venue hurriedly. That was because their original hosts had become anxious after calls for protests began to circulate online.

Alison says a the protesters were motivated mainly to disrupt the Mass because they mistakenly believed Jesuit Fr James Martin would concelebrate it.

Martin — a prominent LGBTQ Catholic advocate — had been in Portugal for Jesuit-related events ahead of World Youth Day. However, he had already left the country before the Mass.

Pope’s message

Alison says he has no ill will toward the ultra-traditionalist protesters. They’re not to blame for their views.

“I was terribly sorry to see these people who have been led to this terrible ideology of hatred. They live in a weird, alienated world and did not look happy. We were principally sad for them.

“I don’t blame them. I blame the intellectual authors who seem to bear the responsibility for this.”

Alison says the Mass for LGBTQ pilgrims was “clearly in line with the Holy Father’s message.”

This message repeatedly emphasises that everyone has a home in the Catholic Church.

Since the start of his pontificate in 2013, Francis has walked a tightrope on LGBTQ issues.

He continues to uphold traditional church teaching, which prohibit gay relationships. At the same time, he repeatedly offers calls for everyone to be welcomed in the church. He has personally befriended a number of openly gay Catholics.

On 4 August, the Spanish Catholic news weekly Vida Nueva published an interview with Francis. In this, Francis reflects on his meetings with transgender people.

“The first time a group of transsexuals came to the Vatican and they saw me, they came out crying, saying that I had given them a hand, a kiss … as if I had done something exceptional with them,” the magazine reports.

“But they are daughters of God!”



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