World Youth Day: LGBT organisation to set up safe space for gay Christians at event

Warsaw: Gay and transgender Christians will set up a ministry during World Youth Day, when Pope Francis is expected to meet hundreds of thousands of young Catholics in southern Poland later this month.

Leaders of the Warsaw-based Faith And Rainbow LGBT organisation say they want to minister to the thousands of gay, lesbian and transgender people attending the event by setting up a "LGBT Pilgrim's Haven".

Pope Francis. AP

Pope Francis. AP

"We want to create a space in which they will feel safe and where they will find answers to issues facing them," organiser Misza Czerniak told the Monday edition of Poland's Rzeczpospolita broadsheet daily.

Organisers however told AFP their initiative is not officially a part of World Youth Day, running 26-31 June in and around Krakow, southern Poland.

The group will set up the "Pilgrim's Haven" in a cafe in Krakow's Kazimierz Jewish quarter.

American Jesuit priest Jim Mulcahy, described on the group's Facebook page as "an experienced pastor and spiritual father of many LGBT believers" in Eastern Europe will be among featured speakers.

Pope Francis will spend five days at the event, arriving on 27 July and concluding his visit on 31 July.

Earlier in his papacy, Francis famously remarked "Who am I to judge?" about homosexuality but in April refused to recognise homosexual couples in new Church guidelines on family life.

Francis noted that bishops who reviewed Catholic teaching on same sex couples at synods in 2014 and 2015 had observed that "there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family."

While the guidelines also expressed opposition to "every sign of unjust discrimination" based on sexual orientation, they include no positive language about gay relationships.

Held once every three years, this year's World Youth Day will be the 31st edition of the event, initiated in Rome in 1986 by John Paul II.

The last was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, shortly after Francis' election as pope.

Updated Date: Jul 18, 2016 16:28 PM

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