”Go ahead!”: Pope Francis encourages Catholic LGBT+ leaders to move forward

**Rome, October 25, 2023**

Today, during his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflected on Saints Cyril and Methodius, emphasising their efforts to ground the Church’s message in local cultures, saying a Gospel disconnected from people’s realities remains abstract. This narrative from Pope Francis sheds light on the significance of a Church that remains intimately connected to the diverse realities of its followers, including the LGBT+ community.

In this backdrop, representatives from the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC, rainbowcatholics.org) held a historic meeting with Pope Francis. This momentous occasion marks the first such dialogue since GNRC’s establishment in Rome eight years ago. Marianne Duddy Burke and Christopher Vella, co-chairs of the GNRC, Ruby Almeida, media officer, and Alessandro Previti, an active supporter of GNRC’s missions, were in attendance.

The delegation presented a letter to the Holy Father, highlighting the experiences of LGBTIQ+ Catholics. Marianne stated, “Being part of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics is the richest experience of our global church I have ever had.” Chris poignantly expressed, “Just like the church needs to ground its message in local cultures, the LGBT+ Catholics need to ground their faith in their own lives”. Ruby urged for heightened attention towards marginalised communities, saying, “we ask the pope to pray and bless the work we are doing with the Church.”; the pope welcomed Ruby’s hug.

Christopher Vella acknowledged Pope Francis’s commitment to decriminalising LGBT+ individuals globally and emphasised the need for continuous efforts in this direction. The Pope’s response, “andate avanti” (move forward), reflects a sentiment deeply rooted in the Church’s evolving stance on inclusivity, especially considering the significant discussions surrounding the LGBT community in the ongoing synod.

The overarching sentiment from the meeting points towards an earnest desire: that the Church, under Pope Francis’s guidance, will forge a path where all communities, including LGBT+ have their place affirmed at the table.