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James Martin, S.J.June 24, 2016

This weekend in New York City the LGBT community celebrates “Pride Weekend.” In the wake of the Orlando massacres, this event takes on great significance. Now, not every LGBT person will march in a parade this weekend or this month. Some people prefer to stand on the sidewalks and cheer. Some don’t much like parades at all. Sadly, some still have a hard time accepting who they are, and also struggle with their relationships with God. 

So I’d like to offer some reflections for LGBT Catholics, and for LGBT youth in particular, who may be struggling with their relationships with God and with the church.

First of all, remember that you were created by God. Psalm 139 says about God, “For it was you who formed my inward parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.”

Have you ever thought of it that way? God knit you together in the womb. God made you the way you are, and gave you to the world. You are God’s gift to the world. You are, as the psalmist says, “wonderfully made.”

Second, for those who feel excluded from the church, remember that you have as much place in the church as the pope does, or your local bishop does—or I do. How do I know this? Because you were baptized. With the sacrament of baptism, you were welcomed into the church. At First Communion, you were welcomed around the table of the Lord, and at Confirmation you were sealed with the Holy Spirit. 

Of course it doesn’t stop there. You need God’s grace, you need to confess your sins and you need to be open to continuing conversion. But so does everyone else. So you’re just as much a part of the church as anybody.

Third, listen to what Pope Francis says in his apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia," "The Joy of Love." “We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.” 

You may feel that the church hasn’t always welcomed you but things are changing. Pope Francis is fond of using the word “accompaniment.” People in the church are more and more being encouraged to accompany you. So have hope in your church. 

Fourth, try to find a parish where you feel welcomed. I know that can be hard. Many big cities have parishes that welcome LGBT Catholics, but not all of them. In that case, try your best to find a parish where you can worship in peace with your brothers and sisters. Sometimes Sunday Masses run by campus chaplaincies at local Catholic colleges or universities may feel more welcoming.  Everyone should feel welcome in church, including you.

Fifth, remember that Jesus loves you. Often LGBT people feel on the margins in the church. But in the Gospels, we see how Jesus consistently goes out to people on the margins, welcoming in them into the community. Jesus always sought out those people who felt excluded and made them feel included.

So get to know Jesus—by reading the Gospels, spending time with him in prayer, encountering him in the Eucharist and finding him in your brothers and sisters. Jesus understands you. He gets you. So get to know him.

Overall, have pride in who you are: a beloved creation of God, a member of the church, and a brother and sister to Jesus, who loves you more than you can know.

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michelle Ralph
6 years ago
Your message resonates peace and love in those ambivalent spaces most of us find ourselves in with all the complexities of being human. Who hasn't been there? Yet, Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I can't imagine Jesus hosting a feast and turning away anyone who loves him. There is always a place at the table.
Stephen Warner
6 years ago
As a convert to our Faith and a new reader of this journal I am confused by this essay. When I first read the title, I thought that Fr. Martin might be offering some pastoral care to our wayward homosexual brothers and sisters. This is sorely needed, especially given the hateful speech coming from so many "Christians" like the congregants of the Westboro Baptist Church. But instead, I read what can only be interpreted as approval of sexual sin. There is no such thing as "LGBT Catholics." There are only Catholics. Catholics who struggle with anger. Catholics who struggle with greed. Catholics who struggle with pride. And Catholics who struggle with lust - including homosexuality. "Has no one condemned you?” Jesus asked the adulteress. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more." This is the counsel that I would expect from a Catholic priest.
Bruce Snowden
6 years ago
What unfathomable love is this! Jesus/God loves everyone totally, no less than he loves The Father and the Spirit, and Himself, his Mother Mary too, and earthly father Joseph. This because Jesus/God loves unconditionally, whereas we always, or almost always choose to love conditionally. In effect we often say, or feel, “This much and no more!” God’s love is so total that even if only one person on earth needed Redemption, Jesus would have willingly accepted Calvary’s Cross, just for me alone, just for you alone. What unfathomable love is this! How we respond to the Jesus/God love makes all the difference in the world. Mother Mary responded perfectly, unconditionally. if only I, you, could love that way, how different we would be, this world would be. In his essay "Reflections On Pride," isn’t this what Father Martin explains?
Nicholas Marziani
6 years ago
I share with one of the other commentators some confusion as to what this reflection means. I have been involved with ministries as a former Episcopalian, now a Catholic priest, that seek to bless and integrate individuals of all sexual orientations into the Church, but which also affirm that God's perfect creation was intended for men and women to understand each other as complementary and vital in their distinctiveness in the human project, oriented toward one another in both spiritual and physical generative valence. Those who experience a profound attraction to those of the same genetic XX/XY constitution, akin to what brings men and women together in Holy Matrimony, are also loved and cherished by the Lord, but they are under the same weight of the aftershocks of Original Sin as all of us. The Church's teaching is clear, why obfuscate it? There IS a way to holy and celibate/continent existence with members of the same sex, and the special sensitivities that such persons bring to the church may well be regarded as gifts. Just so long as we affirm the long and constant teaching of Mother Church in this respect . . .

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