Fr James Martin addressed a crowd of people gathered at the World Meeting of Families to describe how the Catholic church made the LGBT+ community feel like lepers.
A long standing supporter of LGBT+ people, he urged the Catholic Church and its followers to reach out and attempt to build bridges with a community greatly persecuted by its teachings.
He continued: “LGBT people are more than their sexual lives. But sometimes that’s all they hear about. They lead rich lives. Many LGBT Catholics are parents themselves or are caring for aging parents; many help the poor in their community, many are involved in civic and charitable organizations. They’re often deeply involved in the life of the parish. See them in their totality.”
Fr Martin spoke of how treating them like lepers ultimately led to horrific consequences: “I’m talking about incidents in countries where gay men are rounded up and thrown in jail or even executed for being gay, and lesbians are raped to ‘cure them’ of their sexual orientations. In those countries, LGBT issues are life issues.”
Fr Martin continued by urging those listening to examine their own attitudes and tendency to point fingers at “sinners” instead of looking closer to home. He mentioned the “many opportunities for parishes to stand with LGBT people who are being persecuted”, suggesting advocacy and outreach to help those who may be victims of hate crime or bullying.
The World Meeting of Families has been criticised for its deliberate exclusion of LGBT+ faith groups, in some cases flatly ignoring their requests to participate.
Outside the event, 77 year-old gay Catholic man, Jim O’Crowly, told the media: “There are a lot of nice words being spoken, but in reality nothing really changes on the ground.”
Fr Martin was the subject of a petition signed by almost 10,000 people asking Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to rescind his invitation due to Martin’s support for the LGBT+ community.
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