Quest Annual Conference 2019

What: Rainbow Parenting and the Catholic Church

Who: Dr Mary McAleese and Dr Samuel Hall

Where: University of Winchester

When: 9 – 11 August 2019


To discuss and explore the issues relating to Rainbow families we are delighted to welcome to our 2019 Conference, DR MARY MCALEESE – 8th President of Ireland (1997-2011), mother of a gay son – Justin, an advocate for equality in the Church and LGBT rights, and a doctor in canon law. Dr McAleese will be joined DR SAMUEL HALL, who describes himself on his Twitter page as doctor, parent, feminist & human rights activist with big ideas for the future of humanity and care of the planet. He is known to readers of G Scene, Brighton’s LGBT magazine, as Sam the Trans Man.

The booking form can be found here.

Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia makes the case that the complex realities that families face today are singularly different from those of the past (AL32). Nowhere is this more the case than in respect of Rainbow families, e.g. children raised by same-sex couples; children raised by an opposite-sex couple where at least one partner is gay or lesbian; heterosexual parents raising an LGBT+ child or children, a transgender parent and grandparent, etc.

Scientific research consistently shows that LGBT+ parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as those reared by heterosexual parents, and yet the Catholic Church has consistently emphasised the importance of heterosexual parenting to the detriment of LGBT+ parenting.

In Matthew 12:48-50, Jesus is told that his mother and brothers are outside, asking for him. His answer is immediate: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” With unequivocal clarity Jesus turned his gaze to those around him and determines that his true family is composed of those who sit around him and listen to him, not blood relatives who are “outside”. This true family overcomes every barrier and is able to embrace people of every culture, ethnicity, colour, language, sexuality and gender. It is ‘the family of God’ as Jesus defines it: those who gather around his word.


Requests for subsidised places – which are limited in number – should be submitted no later than 28th February 2019. Applications received after this date may not be considered. Successful applicants will be contacted in March.

The booking form can be found here.

Our Past conferences

1982 Leicester: ‘Faith, hope and love’, Fr Kevin McDonald, Oscott
1983 York: ‘God, my neighbour and myself’, Dr Owen Dudley Edwards, Edinburgh University
1984 Birmingham: ‘For the love of God’, Brian Doyle, CM, Damascus House, London
1985 Sheffield: ‘Neglect not the gift that is within you’, Raphael Gallagher, CssR, College of SS Thomas & Paul, Minnesota
1986 Leeds: ‘Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief’, Robert Nugent, SDS, New Ways Ministry
1987 Birmingham: ‘Let us speak the truth in love’, James Hanvey, SJ, Campion Hall, Oxford
1988 Birmingham: ‘You shall be my witnesses’, Joseph Less, SCJ, Irvine
1989 Glasgow: ‘The family in Quest’, Dr Jack Dominian, Mrs Rose Robertson
1990 Liverpool: ‘In the image of God’. Gareth Moore, OP, Blackfriars, Oxford, and Dr Elizabeth Stuart, College of St Mark & St John, Plymouth
1991 Liverpool: ‘Lesbian and gay Catholics in the Decade of Evangelisation’, Dr Gerard Loughlin, Newcastle upon Tyne University
1992 Leeds: ‘Church teaching: Acceptance and Rejection’, Fr Michael O’Dowd, Ushaw
1993 London: ‘The Church Militant: Celebrating Quest’s first 20 years’
1994 Edinburgh: ‘Friends . . . not slaves’, Dr Bernard Hoose, Heythrop College, London
1995 Manchester: ‘Who are my family?’, Nicholas Peter Harvey, Queen’s College, Birmingham
1996 Leeds: ‘Quest 2000’, Michael Walsh, Heythrop College, London
1997 Birmingham: ‘Accepted and Welcome’, Professor Joseph Selling, University of Louvain
1998 London: ‘Thanksgiving 1973-1998’, Dr Evan Harris, MP; Revd Malcolm Johnson, C of E; Duncan LustigPrean, Rank Outsiders; Angela Mason, Stonewall; Professor Elizabeth Stuart, King Alfred’s, Winchester; Keith Vaz, MP
1999 Bath: ‘Partnerships’ – talks by Quest members
2000 Leicester: ‘Living the Gift’, The Revd Neil Whitehouse, Kairos, Soho
2001 Ditchingham ‘Catholic Morality and Sexual Reality’, James O’Connell, Emiritus Porfessor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford and Gareth Moore, OP, Blackfriars, Oxford
2002 London Colney ‘Questions of Conscience’, James Alison, Theologian, Priest & Author and Linda Hogan, Lecturer in Ethics and International Affairs, Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin
2003 Birmingham: ‘Legislation: Implications for Gay and Lesbian Catholics’, Ian Buist, Director of PLAN Intentional and Mark Watson, Managing Director of PlanetOut Partners UK Ltd
2004 Glasgow: ‘Lesbian and Gay Spirituality’, Fr Richard Finn, OP, Dom Laurence Freeman, OSB
2005 Liverpool: ‘Collaborative Ministry – Our Place as Equals, Revd Dr Kevin Kelly and Dr Tina Beattie, Roehampton University
2006 Norwich: ‘Sexuality in Other Faiths: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives’, Adnan Ali and Rabbi Mark L Solomon
2007 Sheffield: ‘God and Desire’, James Alison, Sister Kate Stogden, London Centre for Spirituality, Professor Elizabeth Stuart, University of Winchester
2008 Roehampton ‘What it means to say “I am a Catholic”’, TinaBeattie, Professor in Catholic Studies, Roehampton University; Fr Michael Seed, SA, Peter Stanford, Writer
2009 Leicester: ‘We Are Family: New Thinking for the 21st Century’, Kate Predergast, Lecturer Social Policies, Brunel University; Terry Predergast, Chief Executive, Marriage Care; Stephen Wall, former UK Ambassador to the EU
2010 Lancaster: ‘Made in God’s Image: the Normality of Difference’, Brian Thorne, Emeritus Professor of Counselling, University of East Anglia; the Revd Barbara Glasson, ‘Touchstone, Bradford; Professor Gerard Loughlin, University of Durham
2011 London Colney: ‘Prophetic Community’, Revd Canon Margaret Morris, formerly Bishop of Leicester’s Chaplain with People Affected by HIV, Revd John Drane, Professor of Practical Theology, Fuller Seminary, California
2012 Ditchingham” ‘Sixty Glorious Years’, Dr Bart Smith, former Librarian at the British Library and Terence Weldon, former market researcher, teacher, librarian and now blogger (Queering the Church)
2013 Chichester: “From Wasteland to Promised Land’, Sara Maitland, novelist, short story writer, solitary and feminist; Fr Daniel O’Leary, priest, author and teacher.
2014 Scarborough ‘So Hope for a Great Sea-Change’, Pádraig Ó Tuama poet, theologian, Corrymeela Community Leader; Fr Peter McVerry SJ priest, author, campaigner for the homeless.
2015 Swanwick: ‘The Bible: Friend or Foe?’, Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall; Keith Sharpe, author, retired professor of education.
2016 Scarborough: ‘Feathers on the Breath of God’. Christina Beardsley, Church of England priest, co-founder of the Sibyls Gender, Sexuality and Spirituality workshop, head of the multi-faith chaplaincy at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital; The Revd Dr Chris Dowd, United Reformed Minister.
2017 Canterbury: ‘Act Justly and Love Mercy’, Sister Jeannine Gramick SL, Co-founder of New Ways Ministry; Bruce Kent, of Pax Christi, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and other peace groups.
2018 Lincoln: ‘…a time to build’, Fr James Martin SJ, James Alison, Dr Claire Watkins and Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton
2019 Winchester: ‘Family Matters: Rainbow Parenting and the Catholic Church’, Dr Mary McAleese and Dr Sam Hall