The Ballyfermot Assumption Parish flew an Irish flag and a Pride flag outside their church entrance last week. Parish Priest Fr Adrian Egan spoke at mass on Sunday and said it is a sign that everyone is welcome.
Father Egan is aware that members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their families, do not feel accepted within the church. “We are conscious that there are gay men and women who live in our parish and their families and they’ve often told us how hurt they’ve been maybe by the language the church has sometimes used in regard to them and how maybe they sometimes feel there’s no place for them here and they feel excluded.”
“We wondered was there anything we could do to send out a message to them that God loves them. So, we decided that we have two flagpoles out there so we would put out two flags – the Irish flag and the rainbow flag.
“Maybe just seeing them, it might become a visual sign from outside for them that they might feel ‘I’m being remembered’ or ‘I’m being lifted up in God’s house, maybe I am welcome there’.”
After sharing photos of the flags on the parish Facebook page, large numbers posted thanks or appreciation, but others sent critical and abusive messages to the church because they believed the Pride flag to be “anti-Catholic.”
The church was asked by the Dublin diocese to take down the Pride flag and was advised of a stance against flying flags on church grounds except for national flags on appropriate occasions.
When the flag was taken down a second post on the parish Facebook page said: “Just an effort by a parish pastoral council to say to our gay brothers and sisters, ‘God loves you, your parish loves you, and you are welcome here’.”
The Ballyfermot Anti-Racism Network, alongside youth services and the local GAA team, are planning to “come together to show solidarity, to show we will not be tolerating that sort of behaviour in the area” and to celebrate “our pride and supporting those in the area who would have been affected by this.”
The solidarity vigil is due to be held this Friday June 25 at 6:30pm.
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