Fr James Martin, an Argentinian Jesuit priest and author of ‘Building A Bridge’, a book about how the Catholic Church should reach out more to the LGBT+ community, met privately with Pope Francis on Monday. This is not the first time that Pope Francis has ruffled the feathers of the far-right, famously stating “who am I to judge?” when asked about the LGBT+ community in 2013.
Although this is a seemingly minuscule show of support for the LGBT+ community, many have praised Francis for his acceptance while others, like those attacking Fr Martin, have condemned him for it.
Furthermore, Pope Francis’ visit with Fr Martin was listed by the Vatican in the “pope’s activities” leading many to believe that this is an event that Pope Francis wanted the public to know about, a show of support for Fr Martin’s work with the community.
Fr Martin has received immense amounts of backlash for his effort of LGBT+ inclusion in Catholicism even having several of his talks across the US cancelled due to pressure from conservative groups who oppose his advocacy.
However, despite the anger from small groups of right-wing conservatives, the Vatican under Pope Francis has welcomed Fr Martin and even appointed him as a communications consultant. The Vatican also showed their support of Fr Martin in 2018 giving him a speaking slot at a Vatican-sponsored family rally, and now have honoured him with a private meeting with the Pope.
Fr Martin took to Twitter on Monday to say that during the 30-minute meeting with the Pope the discussed the “joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide” and stated he felt “encouraged, consoled and inspired” by the meeting.
One of the highlights of my life. I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by the Holy Father today. And his time with me, in the middle of a busy day and a busy life, seems a clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide. ([email protected]). pic.twitter.com/1BeaiVh0Q4
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) September 30, 2019
In a telephone interview with the Independent, Fr Martin explained how Pope Francis listened intently to his presentation about the struggles of LGBT+ Catholics “and how many of them still feel marginalised” by the church. Afterwards remarking that their conversation was “ like talking to the most compassionate parish priest, you can imagine.”
Fr Martin insists that the LGBT+ community are “children of God, loved by God and deserving of accompaniment by the church”, with his meeting with Francis seemingly showing the Pope’s endorsement of these beliefs also.
Padre James Martin S.I.
Not just received, but received solemnly, on the same level of a whole conference of bishops in "ad limina" visit.
If that's not an endorsement, nothing is.
Francis and James Martin: même combat. https://t.co/wojYoiLLj9
— Rorate Caeli (@RorateCaeli) September 30, 2019
However, although the Pope seems welcoming to members of the LGBT+ community as members of the Catholic faith, he has publicly denounced the notion of LGBT+ people as clergy members saying; “In consecrated and priestly life, there is no room for that kind of affection. Therefore, the church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life.”
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