- 24 Aug 18
The Catholic Church's negative views on homosexuality led Leo Kilroy to convert to the Church of Ireland, where he now works for the full inclusion of the LGBT community.
'If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.' (Leviticus 20:13)
For two thousand years, Christians have based their views on homosexuality on this verse. Whilst a small collection of Churches are beginning to open their arms and embrace queer members of faith, the Catholic Church has kept its doors firmly shut.
The upcoming visit of the Pope has set tongues wagging, with many pondering whether he will properly and unequivocally recognise LGBT people at the World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park. There has been no comment on whether same-sex parents will even be represented.
Despite many people insisting that the Pope looks favourably on LGBT people, the comments he has made still condemn the actions of homosexual love. From comparing transgender people to nuclear weapons, to saying how he found it 'painful' to see 'varied' families, the truth is that Francis' views are anything but progressive.
It was years of shame and negative language towards gay people that drove Leo Kilroy away from the Catholic faith, and into a space where he could express his faith whilst still living openly as a gay man. Serving as Honorary Secretary of Changing Attitudes Ireland, which works for the full inclusion of LGBT into the Church of Ireland, Kilroy spoke to HP about his relationship with Christianity.
"From me and my partner's point of view, we decided we wanted to be part of faith community," says Kilroy. "We were both involved in Christ Church Cathedral. We were very accepted in the Church of Ireland community and both had active roles."
Kilroy talked of how he felt comfortable walking into Church holding his partner's hand - something he would never have felt comfortable doing had he remained in the Catholic faith. He recalls sitting through hours of sermons condemning homosexual acts, polluting his outlook on what being gay meant.
"It was a very negative framing of perception," he reflects. "It prohibited my ability to come out because of the negative image being presented by Church - of who I was, and who I recognised I was. It was a very damaging and damning experience, and it was down to what the Church was saying. I felt a lack of connection to my faith, so I started exploring other Churches."
One of Changing Attitudes Ireland's long-term goals includes appointing queer people in the ministry and receiving blessings for LGBT couples who wish to marry. Having married his partner in a civil ceremony, Kilroy hopes that one day he can have his Church's blessing for his marriage. He is optimistic about achieving this. Ministers in Scotland and the USA have allowed same-sex couples to hold wedding ceremonies in churches.
"Our fight is for other people in ten years time, who wish to have a connection with the Church," says Kilroy. "Particularly at the point in their lives where they want to have a family and a Church-type celebration of that marriage."