Pro-gay faith groups have met Dr Eamon Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

The meeting with the Archbishop was requested by Faith in Marriage Equality (FiME) during the recent referendum campaign on same sex marriage. The meeting took place at the Archbishop's residence in Armagh, on Wednesday, July 22.

Dr Richard O'Leary of Faith in Marriage Equality said “We believe it is a positive step to open dialogue with the Catholic Church as a contribution to the 'reality check' signalled by the Church after the vote for civil marriage equality.”

He was referring to the “reality check” Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin recommended to the Catholic Church following the success of the Yes campaign in the marriage equality referendum on May 22.

O’Leary continued “We were positively received by Archbishop Martin who said he was committed to continuing dialogue and that he was particularly concerned about the pastoral care of gay persons”.

Jim O'Crowley, a gay Catholic, shared with Archbishop Martin the experiences and views of gay Catholics and their families.

The delegation had sent in advance to the Archbishop, a copy of “To have and to Hold”: stories and reflections of LGBT people their families and friends” (edited by Patricia Devlin and Brian Glennon). Archbishop Martin said that he found it helpful to read this book and also to listen to accounts by gay Catholics.

Dr O'Leary impressed on the Archbishop that the absence of affirmation of gay persons by the Churches contributes to the raised rate of suicide.

Brendan Butler, of We are Church Ireland, referred to the forthcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome in October, at which Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will represent the Irish bishops. Butler highlighted paragraph 130 of the agenda of the Synod titled |Pastoral Attention towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.”

Butler explained to the Archbishop “if the Catholic Church is to regain credibility not only with the gay and lesbian community but also with the wider Catholic community then existing Catholic teaching needs to change.”

He drew attention to paragraph three of the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons” (CDF,1986) as morally offensive as it describes “homosexual orientation as an objective disorder and ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil.”

The pro-gay faith delegation requested Archbishop Martin to consider this issue during his discussions at the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Archbishops Martin said that he was open to receiving additional material from We Are Church Ireland on this subject.