Zappone says Pope's Irish visit should be used to spread positive message about LGBTI rights

Pope Francis will come to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in August

Zappone says Pope's Irish visit should be used to spread positive message about LGBTI rights

Katherine Zappone. Photo: Sam Boal/

The Pope's visit to Ireland must be used to spread a positive message about LGBTI rights, according to the Children's Minister. 

Pope Francis will come to Ireland during the World Meeting of Families, which takes place in Dublin in August. 

It will mark the first papal trip to Ireland since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

Speaking at an event in Copenhagen this morning, Minister Katherine Zappone said the visit by Pope Francis must be inclusive of all families. 

She criticised the Catholic Church organisers for airbrushing out LGBTI figures from promotional material for the World Meeting of Families.

She also highlighted the recent reports that former Irish president Mary McAleese - a vocal supporter of LGBT rights - had been blocked from giving a keynote speech at an International Women's Day conference in the Vatican.

Minister Zappone says the upcoming event in Dublin needs to represent people of all kinds, arguing that there are still some countries where coming out puts people & their families at risk of death.

Describing the upcoming event as a 'unique opportunity' to confront inequality & discrimination, she argued: "Some of the biggest audiences will be in countries where LGBTI people are discriminated against, threatened and abused.

"It is my hope that those who are gathering in the World Meeting of Families in Dublin this summer will extend a warm welcome to all families.

"It is also my hope that the event organised by the Catholic Church when Pope Francis comes to Dublin will not be used as a platform for remarks which exclude, isolate or hurt any family."

She added: "The leadership of Pope Francis has given hope to many.

"However, the recent attempts to exclude our former president Mary McAleese from an event in the Vatican, together with the airbrushing out of images of LGBTI families from certain church literature related to [the World Meeting of Families], is a matter of serious concern."

Minister Zappone is currently in Copenhagen for a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at the Danish parliament.

Additional reporting by Stephen McNeice