Varadkar: I’ll push Pope on accepting same-sex families

Leo Varadkar, Irish Prime Minister ready to meet the Pope later this month

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says he will tell Pope Francis that families headed by same-sex couples are equal to traditional families when the Pontiff visits Ireland later this month.

The two are due to meet at Dublin Castle as the Pope visits for the World Meeting of Families, the Catholic Church’s celebration of the family.

Asked what he would say to Pope Francis, Varadkar told journalists last Tuesday he would express “our view as a society and as a government that families come in all sorts of different forms and that includes families led by same-sex parents”.

Although he was “really glad” the Pontiff was visiting the Republic of Ireland, he said he was “not sure exactly what the detail of my interaction with him is going to be”.

“[The meeting at] Dublin Castle may be very short but, first of all, I will want to welcome him to Ireland and, if the opportunity arises, I will certainly want to express to him the real concerns Irish people have in relation to the legacy of the past, in relation to issues such as the church’s involvement in Magdalene laundries, mother-and-baby homes, and sexual and physical abuse.”

The Republic’s Minister for Children has also previously said she will tell the Pope he is wrong to say only heterosexual couples can form real families, while the Culture Minister will tell Pope Francis to abolish priestly celibacy.

Health Minister Simon Harris also attacked Church teaching on contraception on Sunday, saying religion “will not determine health and social policy in our country any more.”

The minister exclaimed “Please make it stop!” after a bishop said the principles of Humanae Vitae have been ignored for too long.

The Irish Times reported that Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin said the teaching in Humanae Vitae should be “presented in a new way”.

“As a church, we probably have not lived up to that demand,” he said. “It needs to be presented in contemporary language in an appropriate context.

“There is undoubtedly a place in schools for an appropriate presentation of the church’s teachings on human sexuality. I think we have, again, problems to address there. Not least, having a very good quality, Catholic inspired programme for relationship and sexuality.”

However, Simon Harris tweeted in response to the article: “Please just make it stop! Increasing access to & availability of contraception is and will remain public health policy. Religion plays an important role for many on an individual basis – but it will not determine health and social policy in our country any more. Please get that.”