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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 15, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 24
Irish Gays protest church congress in Dublin
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Irish Gays protest church congress in Dublin

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Irish LGBT Noise group is protesting the Catholic Eucharistic Congress, which opened in Dublin on June 11 and runs through June 15.

'Church leaders lobby governments to prevent LGBT people's civil rights,' the group says on its website.

'Among the issues Noise campaigns on is civil marriage equality, which is a civil right, not a religious rite. If Catholic leaders want nothing to do with same-sex marriage, they don't have to have one.'

LGBT Noise began its protest on Sunday, June 11, as papal representative Cardinal Marc Ouellet opened the congress.

The group said that the Catholic Church's 'detailed and shameful' history of opposing LGBT rights was behind their protest.

'Countless church authorities defame and offend LGBT people on a regular basis,' LGBT Noise said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

A survey published in the Irish Examiner on March 14 showed that 73% of Irish people believed that 'same-sex marriage should be allowed in the Constitution.' Civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal in Ireland since 2010.

LGBT Noise was joined by protesters from Survivors of Child Abuse, a group supporting the rights of victims of Catholic priests.

The Eucharistic Congress is held every four years and is being held in Ireland for the first time in 80 years. Some 80,000 people are expected to attend, but the 1932 congress - the last one held in Dublin - drew more than one million. This time, Ireland's opening soccer match in the European Championship is dominating public attention.

The gathering is intended to highlight the church's teaching that bread and wine is literally transformed during the Mass into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. An opinion poll of Irish Catholics published this month found that two-thirds don't believe this, nor do they attend Mass weekly.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of the Eucharistic Congress, said in his opening remarks that he respects the right of protesters to assemble. He added that he and other church leaders would address 'the sins of the church' in their sermons during the week.

'The church is in crisis in Ireland, and that crisis is very, very deep,' Martin acknowledged. 'But & we're turning the corner to be a very different church to the one we were. The difference will be reflected perhaps in the Eucharistic Congress. It won't resemble the 1932 congress in any way.'

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