How do you solve a problem like Pride?

How do you solve a problem like Pride? An LGBTQ flag is seen in an illustration photo. Photo: OSV News Nadja Wohlleben, Reuters

A man walked into a bank (a true story), and was met with a Pride flag at the teller’s station. Before concluding his business, this man, a Catholic, unbit his lip. “I just want to say that if you want to have these flags, that’s fine. But I want equal time at Easter. And I don’t mean an Easter bunny. I want a crucifix to represent my Christian faith.”

The woman teller replied: “You’re not wrong sir”, but head office makes us do this.”

And, one might add, it’s not just head office! What is more, there are signs some have had enough of “being made to do this.”

Undoubtedly there are many sensitivities around Pride, but there is also a fair balance to be struck – and a right to hold a different opinion.


Christian Concern is pushing back on Pride by objecting to Westminster City Council’s decision to display massive LGBTQI+ Pride Flags. Toronto Catholic school trustees just voted against the Pride flag flying on school property, St Andrew’s Roman Catholic parish church, Westland Road, ended up in a media storm last week when it cancelled the Dublin Gay Men’s Chorus event.

The Church had taken the booking in April, knowing it was from the Gay Men’s Choir but cancelled when the event’s title came to light: Pride in the Name of Love. The poster for the annual summer concert on June 23 featured the colours of the Pride rainbow with the subheading “Celebrating Love, Solidarity and Community.”

The Catholic parish church sent an email to the choir’s chairman, Patrick McNamara, saying the event was “not compatible with our mission”. “The parish,” it said, “is happy to welcome groups from all backgrounds to perform concerts, as you know from your concerts here as a musical director on many occasions.

“However, the parish is disappointed that the nature of this event was not made clear at the time of booking.” RTÉ online reported “massive upset” for choir members over the decision. And, RTÉ’s Claire Byrne gave a fairly sympathetic hearing to Mr McNamara during which he admitted that the sexual inclination of the choir was not the issue: “It appears they are happy for us to perform once we don’t align ourselves or be our real selves or show solidarity with our colleagues within the LBGT+ community”.

The issue, he said, was the use of the term Pride, which he claimed was “purely a title” from the U2 Song. Ms Byrne eventually asked a very pointed question: “Can you blame them for thinking this is a Pride Festival event?”

McNamara reacted as if he had just come up the River Liffey in a bubble. He said there were “intelligent” people in the church who should have asked questions. Maybe they should have!

While he insisted it was not a Pride event, he showed no thought or regard for Catholic sensibilities. Irrespective, he said, of this being a Pride event or not, St Andrew’s is either a concert venue or it is not.

Catholics have a right to our faith. We are not taught to define ourselves by our sexual appetites and we try to respect everyone”

Actually it’s a church whose primary purpose is to praise God, not man. And, frankly, anyone looking at the poster, Catholic or not, might reasonably conclude that it was a ‘Pride’ event under the ‘If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck’ logic.

Funnily enough, the LGBT+ newspaper Pink News described the concert as “Ireland’s only all-male gay choir celebrating the tail end of Pride month”. Perhaps it too got the wrong end of the stick?

In a subsequent statement, Mr McNamara highlighted the “increasing importance of Pride month” as ‘the job’ was not yet done”. He also stated that  ‘pride’ had become “a loaded word”  for some.

Actually, ‘pride’ has always been a difficulty for Catholics as we believe it is the first deadly sin.

Catholics have a right to our faith. We are not taught to define ourselves by our sexual appetites and we try to respect everyone. I have yet to see an organised Catholic anti-pride protest in Belfast or Dublin.

For Catholics, June is not about celebrating every kind of sexual expression in this new often hedonistic rainbow alphabet, which now includes transgender, pansexual, omnisexual, queer, and a plus sign that as a group who might not be “understood”. Hmmm. Would that in fact include those attracted to minors?

As Pride is about rights, what rights are still being sought specifically?  Some in the LGB category (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual) have actually split from the alphabet. The US-based group, ‘Gays Against Groomers’, actively oppose transgender activists who push puberty blockers on vulnerable kids and promote drag shows for children.

As for the Pride emblem, this rainbow is often depicted with six colours, while the biblical rainbow has seven – God’s perfect number. Note also that this annual festival also has a new flag and is no longer termed Gay Pride, just Pride.


Catholics are taught to love and cherish people, no matter what. Many Catholics are personally challenged by Church teaching on sexuality – and have family or friends whose sexual desires are at odds with Catholic teaching.

For Catholics, June is the month to honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus, from which flows all love. It is a self-sacrificing love because selfish love is an illusion. Unfortunately, our modern culture has only one word for love and it is too often linked to self-satisfaction. We use the same word for ‘I love my coffee’ and ‘I love my husband’.

Christian love is humble, and tries to do God’s will, even when it is contrary to our own desires. In humility, not pride, we seek forgiveness when we fail. Catholics are entitled to their own belief system without being emotionally blackmailed or pressured. Pride as an ideology is anathema to us.

How about Catholic disappointment at what happened, RTÉ?

As the man said to the bank teller, let’s get some balance.