Father James Martin, SJ, (CNS photo/courtesy America)

MAYNOOTH, Ireland (CNS) — The issue of LGBT families has dogged the ninth World Meeting of Families since it was revealed that an image of a gay couple was edited for a preparatory booklet, and Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell’s comments on gay families were deleted from a video.

On June 11, the date the Vatican released Pope Francis’ schedule for attendance at the World Meeting of Families, Irish church officials confirmed that U.S. Jesuit Father James Martin, who has written about the need for dialogue between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, will be a keynote speaker at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of the World Meeting of Families 2018, said Father Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” had the support of three U.S. cardinals, including Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

Asked if gay couples were welcome, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, told media: “This is a gathering of people to which everyone is welcome.”


But he added, “The World Meeting of Families is an event of the Catholic Church, so we don’t make any apologies for the fact that the Catholic Church has a very clear teaching on marriage and on the family.”

The Catholic Church insists marriage can be only between a man and a woman. It teaches that while homosexual people deserve respect and spiritual care, homosexual activity is sinful.

Church leaders also announced that Pope Francis would meet representatives of survivors of clerical abuse and residential abuse during the course of his two days in Ireland.

Acknowledging that the pope’s program “is very tight,” Archbishop Martin added, “We will find a way in which the pope will be able to address the concerns of all of those people,” he said.