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Critics plan rival conference to World Meeting of Families in Dublin

Bishop Athanasius Schneider (courtesy John Aron)

Critics of the Vatican-backed World Meeting of Families have announced a parallel conference to be held at the same time.

The World Meeting of Families is set to be held in Dublin in August, and the alternative series, the Conference of Catholic Families, will be held in nearby Ballsbridge.

The National Catholic Register says the two-day conference, sponsored by the Lumen Fidei Institute, will centre around Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, addressing the topics of marriage, procreation and conception. Speakers include Fr Thomas Weinandy, a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission; Dr Robert Royal, founder and president of the Faith & Reason Institute; and John Smeaton, director of Britain’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

Also speaking are Bishop Athanasius Schneider, pro-life philosopher Professor Stéphane Mercier, and Dr Gerard van den Aardweg, a psychologist and psychoanalyst. Cardinal Raymond Burke will be present through a live video feed.

The World Meeting of Families, the Vatican-sponsored conference, is centred around Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The Pope will speak as will Jesuit Fr James Martin. Fr Martin’s speech is called “Exploring how parishes can support those families with members who identify as LGBTI+”.

While the two conferences are scheduled for the same time, the leaders of the Conference of Catholic Families said their goal is not to compete but rather to help explain the church’s views on marriage and family.