Pope and LGBT champion have private chat

LGBT champion Fr James Martin, SJ met Pope Francis on Monday in a private audience in the apostolic palace inside the Vatican.

They spoke to each other, seated at the table where the pope meets his high-level visitors.

This is the third time Martin, who is known for his pastoral ministry to the LGBT community has met Francis.

Their 30-minute meeting this week is seen as a highly significant public statement of Francis’s support and encouragement for Martin’s ministry.

Although Martin would not reveal what the pope said to him he did say “we both laughed several times” and that he shared with Francis “the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.

“I also spoke about my own ministry to them and how they feel excluded.

“I saw this audience as a sign of the Holy Father’s care for LGBT people.

“I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired … [Francis’s] 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.

“I was very moved by my encounter with a real pastor.”

An Vatican source says Francis is aware Martin is sometimes viciously attacked in the US including by clerics, for his 2017 book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity”.

He’s also attacked for his lectures and ministry to LGBT people.

Last month, his views have attracted words of caution from Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput.

“Father Martin has sought in a dedicated way to accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria,” he said recently.

“Many of his efforts have been laudable, and we need to join him in stressing the dignity of persons in such situations.

“At the same time, a pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing.

“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasise that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church …”.

Martin thanked Chaput for his careful tone and for encouraging people to not engage in “ad hominem” attacks. He says he’s careful not to challenge Church teaching on matters of sexual morality in his writings and talks.

At the same time, he does not focus on same-sex relations and same-sex marriage.

“… I know [these relationships] are both impermissible (and immoral) under church teaching, [but] … LGBT Catholics have heard this repeatedly. Indeed, often that is the only thing that they hear from their church,” Martin says.


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