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James Martin, S.J.August 23, 2018
  An LGBT choir sings outside the Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin Aug. 23. (CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters)

This talk was delivered at the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 23, 2018.

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One of the more recent challenges for Catholic parishes is how to welcome L.G.B.T. parishioners, as well as families with L.G.B.T. members. But that challenge is also where grace abounds because L.G.B.T. Catholics have felt excluded from the church for so long that any experience of welcome can be life-changing—a healing moment that can inspire them to go to Mass again, return them to the faith and even help them to believe in God again.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard the most appalling stories from L.G.B.T. Catholics who have been made to feel unwelcome in parishes. A 30-year-old autistic gay man who came out to his family and was not in any sort of relationship told me that a pastoral associate said he could no longer receive Communion in church. Why? Because even saying he was gay was a scandal.

But cruelty doesn’t end at the doors of the church. Last year a woman contacted me to ask if I knew any “compassionate priests” in her archdiocese. Why? She was a nurse in a hospice where a Catholic patient was dying. But the local parish priest assigned to the hospice was refusing to anoint him—because he was gay.

Is it surprising that most L.G.B.T. Catholics feel like lepers in the church?

The same is true for families. The mother of a gay teen told me her son had decided to come back to church after years of feeling the church hated him. After much discussion, he decided to return on Easter Sunday. The mother was overjoyed. When Mass began she was so excited to have her son beside her. But after the priest proclaimed the story of Christ’s Resurrection, guess what he preached on? The evils of homosexuality. The son stood up and walked out of the church. And the mother sat in the pew and cried.

But there are also stories of grace in our church. Last year, a university student told me that the first person to whom he came out was a priest. The first thing the priest said was, “God loves you, and the church accepts you.” The young man told me, “That literally saved my life.” Indeed, we should rejoice that more and more Catholic parishes are places where L.G.B.T. Catholics feel at home, thanks to both the parish staff and more formalized programs.

Is it surprising that most L.G.B.T. Catholics feel like lepers in the church?

My own Jesuit community in New York is next to a church called St. Paul the Apostle, which has one of the most active L.G.B.T. outreach programs in the world. The ministry is called Out at St. Paul and sponsors retreats, Bible study groups, speaking engagements and social events for the parish’s large L.G.B.T. community. At every 5:15 p.m. Sunday Mass, when the time comes for parish announcements, an L.G.B.T. person gets up in the pulpit to say, “Hi! I’m Jason or Xorje or Marianne, and I’m a member at Out at St. Paul. If you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we want you to feel welcome. Here are some events coming up this week.” And I just learned that two members of that group are entering religious orders this year.

Sadly, much of the spiritual life of L.G.B.T. Catholics and their families depends on where they happen to live. If you’re a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person trying to make sense of your relationship with God and the church or if you’re a parent of an L.G.B.T. person and you live in a big city with open-minded pastors, you’re in luck. But if you live in a less open-minded place or your pastor is homophobic, either silently or overtly, you’re out of luck. And the way that Catholics are welcomed or not welcomed in their parish heavily influences their outlook not only on the church but on their faith and on God.

That’s the real scandal. Why should faith depend on where you live? Is that what God desires for the church? Did Jesus want people in Bethany to feel God’s love less than people in Bethsaida? Did Jesus want a woman in Jericho to feel less loved than a woman in Jerusalem?

Sadly, much of the spiritual life of L.G.B.T. Catholics and their families depends on where they happen to live.

So what helps a parish to be welcoming and respectful? How can priests and deacons, sisters and brothers, directors of religious education, lay pastoral associates and all parishioners help parishes become homes for L.G.B.T. Catholics and their families?

The following observations are based on not only conversations with L.G.B.T. people but also on the experience of L.G.B.T. ministries and outreach groups that I consulted for this talk. I asked them: What are the most important things for parishes to know and to do?

It sounds obvious, but parishes need to remember that L.G.B.T. people and their families are baptized Catholics.

So I’d like to talk about three areas. First, what are some fundamental insights for parishes? Second, what can a parish do to be more welcoming and respectful? Finally, what might the Gospel say to us about this ministry? Let’s begin with six fundamental insights.

1) They are Catholic. That sounds obvious, but parishes need to remember that L.G.B.T. people and their families are baptized Catholics. They are as much as part of the church as Pope Francis, the local bishop or the pastor. It’s not a question of making them Catholic. They already are. So the most important thing we can do for L.G.B.T. Catholics is to welcome them to what is already their church. And remember: Just to remain in the church L.G.B.T. people have often endured years of rejection. Our welcome should reflect that and so should be, to quote Luke’s Gospel, “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”

2) They do not choose their orientation. Sadly, many people still believe that people choose their sexual orientation, despite the testimony of almost every psychiatrist and biologist—and, more important, the lived experience of L.G.B.T. people. You don’t choose your orientation or gender identity any more than you choose to be left-handed. It’s not a choice. And it’s not an addiction. Thus, it is not a sin simply to be L.G.B.T. Far less, it is not something to “blame” on someone, like parents.

3) They have often been treated like lepers by the church. Never underestimate the pain that L.G.B.T. people have experienced—not only at the hands of the church but from society at large. A few statistics may help: In the United States, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are five times as likely to have attempted suicide than their straight counterparts. Forty percent of transgender people in the United States attempt suicide. Among young L.G.B.T. people in the United States, 57 percent feel unsafe because of their orientation. Also, one study shows that the more religious the family they come from, the more likely they are to attempt suicide. And one important reason that L.G.B.T. youth are homeless is that they come from families who reject them for religious reasons. So parishes need to be aware of the consequences of stigmatizing L.G.B.T. people.

Never underestimate the pain that L.G.B.T. people have experienced—not only at the hands of the church but from society at large.

Most L.G.B.T. Catholics have been deeply wounded by the church. They may have been mocked, insulted, excluded, condemned or singled out for critique, either privately or from the pulpit. They may never have heard the term “gay” or “lesbian” expressed in any positive way or even a neutral way. And even if hateful comments did not come in the parish setting, they may have heard other Catholic leaders make homophobic comments. From their earliest days as Catholics, they are often made to feel like they are a mistake. They fear rejection, judgment and condemnation from the church. In fact, these may be the only things that they expect from the church. This often leads them to exclude themselves from the church.

Parents of L.G.B.T. children face similar pain. There is a saying, “When a child comes out of the closet, the parent goes into the closet.” It can be confusing, frightening and embarrassing for parents to accept the reality of their children’s orientation or gender identity. They may suffer shame in front of relatives and friends. Having a child come out or say that they are transgender can make the parent feel not only that they have somehow failed but that they will be isolated, judged and excluded from the church. Sometimes they feel that they must choose between their child and God. Parents also worry that their children will leave a church that is seen as rejecting them. As a result, parishes must let parents and families know that they are still welcome, that they have nothing to fear from the church and that the church is their home.

4) They bring gifts to the church. Like any group, L.G.B.T. people bring special gifts to the church. Now, it’s usually wrong to generalize, but for a group that has been seen in the church almost exclusively in a negative light, it’s important to consider the many gifts of the group. To begin with, because they have been so marginalized, many L.G.B.T. people often feel a natural compassion for those on the margins. Their compassion is a gift. They are often forgiving of pastors and priests who have treated them like dirt. Their forgiveness is a gift. They persevere as Catholics in the face of years of rejection. Their perseverance is a gift.

In fact, recently some American parishes have fired L.G.B.T. people after they were legally married. And something about these situations always mystified me. Every time I would hear these stories, it would always be about the “most beloved” teacher, parish associate or music minister. It made me wonder why they were the “most beloved.” Then I realized why: L.G.B.T. people working for the church really have to want to be there, given the way they’re treated. They stick with their ministry despite the rejection that they experience. It’s the same with L.G.B.T. parishioners: They must make a conscious decision to stay with a church—to persevere. So when you think about their gifts, you may have the same reaction that Jesus had with the Roman centurion: amazement at their faith.

Like any group, L.G.B.T. people bring special gifts to the church.

5) They long to know God. Like many Catholics, many L.G.B.T. people struggle with various aspects of the church’s teaching—for example, terms like “intrinsically disordered.” At the same time, many aren’t as focused on those parts of the tradition as people think. Many want something much simpler: They want to experience the Father’s love through the community. They want to meet Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. They want to experience the Holy Spirit in the sacraments. They want to hear good homilies, sing good music and feel part of a faith community. Treat them like that—not as protestors but as parishioners. Help L.G.B.T. people and their families to fulfill their deepest desires: to know God.

6) They are loved by God. God loves them—so should we. And I don’t mean a stingy, grudging, judgmental, conditional, half-hearted love. I mean real love. And what does real love mean? The same thing it means for everyone: knowing them in the complexity of their lives, celebrating with them when life is sweet, suffering with them when life is bitter, as a friend would. But I say even more: Love them as Jesus loved people on the margins: extravagantly.

With those insights in mind, how can a parish be more welcoming? How can we treat L.G.B.T. people with the virtues that the Catechism recommends: “respect, compassion and sensitivity”? Let me suggest 10 things. Now, the following suggestions need to be fitted to your own parish. No one size fits all. Each parish must develop its own model.

1) Examine your own attitudes towards L.G.B.T. people and their families. Do you believe someone is sinful because she’s lesbian or more inclined to sin than a straight woman? Do you hold the parents “responsible” for a gay teen’s orientation? Do you think a person is transgender only because it’s “fashionable”? Here’s another question: If none or only a few L.G.B.T. people have made themselves known to you, why might that be the case?

God loves L.G.B.T. people—so should we. And I don’t mean a stingy, grudging, judgmental love.

Likewise, are you discriminating against them in your heart? For example, do you hold the L.G.B.T. community to the same standards as the straight community? With L.G.B.T. people we tend to focus on whether they are fully conforming to the church’s teachings on sexual morality. So are you doing the same with straight parishioners—with those who are living together before being married or practicing birth control? Be consistent about whose lives get scrutinized. Pastors are often more sympathetic to the complex situations of straight people because they know them. For example, even though Jesus condemns divorce outright, most parishes welcome divorced people. Do we treat L.G.B.T. people with the same understanding?

What can you do about these attitudes? Be honest about them. But also get facts, not myths, about sexual orientation and gender identity from scientific and social-scientific sources, not from rumors and misinformed and homophobic online sites. Then talk to God and your spiritual director about your feelings and be open to God’s response. Invite your pastoral team to speak about their feelings and experiences. This leads to the next step.

2) Listen to them. Listen to the experiences of L.G.B.T. Catholics and their parents and families. If you don’t know what to say, you might ask: “What was it like growing up as a gay boy in our church?” “What is it like being a lesbian Catholic?” And an important question, “What is it like being a transgender person?” We still know little about the transgender experience, so we must listen. Invite the parents of an L.G.B.T. child to speak with your pastoral team. Ask them: “What is it like to have a gay child?” “How has the church helped you or hurt you?” “How has your understanding of God changed?” And pay attention to what they say. To that end, be attentive to language that they say they find offensive and needlessly hurtful: “sodomy” for example. Names, words and terminology matter.

Do you hold the L.G.B.T. community to the same standards as the straight community?

Overall, whether you are participating in a ministry like an L.G.B.T. outreach program or are meeting with an L.G.B.T. person one-on-one, begin with their experiences. To that end, trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them in their formation as Christians. We don’t treat other Catholics by simply repeating church teaching without considering their lived experience. So avoid doing that with L.G.B.T. people. Notice how Jesus treated people on the margins: for example, how he treated the Samaritan woman. Does he castigate her for being married several times and living with someone? No. Instead, Jesus listens to her and treats her with respect. So be like Jesus: listen, encounter, accompany. If the church listened to L.G.B.T. people, 90 percent of the homophobia and prejudice would disappear.

3) Acknowledge them inhomilies or parish presentations as full members of the parish, without judgment and not as fallen-away Catholics. L.G.B.T. people should never be degraded or humiliated from the pulpit—nor should anyone. Just mentioning them can be a step forward. Sometimes in homilies I’ll say, “God loves us all—whether we’re old or young, rich or poor, straight or L.G.B.T.” Even something small like that can send a signal. It also sends a signal to their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. You may not think you have any L.G.B.T. people in your parish. But you certainly have parents and grandparents of L.G.B.T. people. You have people who love L.G.B.T. people in your parish. Remember that when you’re speaking about L.G.B.T. people you’re speaking about their children.

4) Apologize to them. If L.G.B.T. Catholics or their families have been harmed in the name of the church by homophobic comments and attitudes and decisions, apologize. And I’m speaking here to the church’s ministers. They were harmed by the church, you’re a minister of the church. You can apologize. It doesn’t solve everything, but it’s a start.

5) Don’t reduce gays and lesbians to the call to chastity we all share as Christians. L.G.B.T. people are more than their sexual lives. But sometimes that’s all they hear about. Remember not to focus solely on sexuality but on the many other joys and sorrows in their lives. They lead rich lives. Many L.G.B.T. 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. And if you talk about chastity with L.G.B.T. people, do it as much with straight people.

L.G.B.T. people are more than their sexual lives. But sometimes that’s all they hear about.

6) Include them in ministries. As I’ve mentioned, there is a tendency to focus on the sexual morality of L.G.B.T. parishioners, which is wrong, because, first, you often have no idea what their sexual lives are like; and, second, even if they are falling short, they are not the only ones. As a result, L.G.B.T. people may feel they have to be dishonest about who they are and that they have no place in ministries. Like everyone else in your parish who does not live up to the Gospels—which is everyone—L.G.B.T. people should be invited into parish ministries: eucharistic ministers, music ministers, lectors, bereavement ministry and every ministry. By the way, by not welcoming them the church misses out on their gifts. They will simply go to where they are welcomed, to where they can bring their whole selves. Also, asking someone who has felt left out his or her or their whole life can be a life-changing.

7) Acknowledge their individual gifts. Not only should we acknowledge the gifts that L.G.B.T. people offer in the church as a group but their individual gifts should be valued. For example, one of the cantors in my Jesuit parish is a gay man. He is kind and compassionate, and his beautiful voice has made him an essential part of our worship for 20 years. You probably have similar people in your parish. Remember how important it is to acknowledge them, to praise them, to raise them up. Don’t hide their light under your bushel basket!

8) Invite everyone on the parish staff to welcome them. You may have a welcoming pastor, but what about everyone else? Does the person answering the phone know what to say to a lesbian couple who wants to have their child baptized? At funerals, are the gay adult children of the deceased treated with the same respect as other children? What about the teacher in a parish school who has two fathers coming to a parent-teacher conference? How does a deacon treat the father of a gay man who just died and who wants a funeral for his son? Are gay and lesbian Catholics welcome in bereavement groups when a partner dies? Is your parish open to the children of all couples, not just straight couples? Are the children of lesbian and gay couples welcome in parish schools, educational programs and sacramental preparation programs? Is your parish staff educated in the full range of church teaching on nondiscrimination and pastoral outreach?

The voice of your parish is not just your pastor’s voice but everyone’s. Think about it this way: By not welcoming and by excluding L.G.B.T. Catholics, the church is falling short of its call to be God’s family. By excluding L.G.B.T. people, you are breaking up God’s family; you are tearing apart the Body of Christ.

By excluding L.G.B.T. people, you are breaking up God’s family; you are tearing apart the Body of Christ.

9) Sponsor special events or develop an outreach program. Like everyone else, L.G.B.T. Catholics want to feel like they are part of the church. And, as for all its children, the onus is on the church to invite them into the community. But for many L.G.B.T. people, the church has not been a place of welcome. So specific L.G.B.T. events and outreach programs are helpful to bridge the gap between your intentions and their suspicions.

As for events, there are many possibilities: You can offer a Mass of welcome, a weekend retreat, a day of recollection, a book club or a speaker. And speaking events don’t have to be focused solely on L.G.B.T. issues. That is, sponsor a speaker to talk to L.G.B.T. parishioners about prayer. Or show a video about a topic that people need to be informed on, like the experience of transgender people. And again, that issue—transgender people—is one that the church needs to learn about because society at large is still learning about. Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vt., said: “I see no reason why transgender people would not be welcome in church. There is more evidence...that a lot of this is biological; it’s not just something a person just makes as a fashionable choice or cultural choice. This is who they are...everyone is God’s creature, and I would invite anyone to come to the table.”

As for L.G.B.T. outreach ministries, there are many models. They range from programs where L.G.B.T. people speak with one another privately to ones where L.G.B.T. parishioners meet together with other parishioners; to education programs on church teaching; to more holistic approaches where the group does not focus on sexuality but on the other questions that L.G.B.T. people face; to family groups for parents; to groups that do outreach to the L.G.B.T. community in the area, like working in shelters for L.G.B.T. youth; to what you might call “blending-in” programs, where the parish includes L.G.B.T. topics as one element among many in the parish: in adult education, social justice programs and youth ministry. All of this depends on your parish.

As for parents, one mother said, when I asked what I should say to you today: “The most important thing to give parents is a safe, welcoming space to share their stories with other Catholic parents. So many feel alone and don’t think anyone else is going through this. It’s relief to know that there are others on the journey. ... And they don’t need to hear their children being compared to alcoholics. Hearing positive statements from the pulpit would also be nice, instead of acting as if their children don’t exist.”

Last year, the Jesuit parish where I celebrate Mass—called, not surprisingly, St. Ignatius Loyola—sponsored an evening of sharing stories. Six members of our parish came together—three gay men, the mother of a gay child, the father of a gay child and his gay teen son—to talk about their lives. Their sharing of stories of joys and griefs were healing for them and for the whole parish. Why healing for them? Imagine thinking your whole life that you’re not part of the church and then being asked to speak about your experiences. And healing for the rest of the parish, because it brought us all together in a way that we could scarcely have imagined.

10) Advocate for them. Be prophetic. There are many times when the church can provide a moral voice for this persecuted community. And I’m not talking about hot-button topics like same-sex marriage. 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, L.G.B.T. issues are life issues. In other countries, it may be responding to incidents of teen suicides or hate crimes or bullying. There are many opportunities for parishes to stand with L.G.B.T. people who are being persecuted.

This is part of what it means to be a Christian: standing up for the marginalized, the persecuted, the beaten down.

The Catechism says, “Every sign of unjust discrimination must be avoided” when it comes to L.G.B.T. people. Do we believe this part of the Catechism? The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in 1986: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent speech and action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors whenever it occurs.” Do we believe that statement from the C.D.F?

This is part of what it means to be a Christian: standing up for the marginalized, the persecuted, the beaten down. It’s shocking how little the Catholic Church has done this. Let your L.G.B.T. parishioners know you stand with them, mention their persecution in a homily when appropriate or in the prayers of the faithful. Be prophetic. Be courageous. Be like Jesus.

Because if we’re not trying to be like Jesus, what’s the point? And remember that in his public ministry Jesus continually reached out to people who felt like they were on the margins. The movement for Jesus was from the outside-in. He was bringing people who felt on the outside into the community. Because for Jesus there is no “us” and “them.” There is only us.

To that end, I’d like to close with a story from the Gospels to help us meditate on our call to welcome and respect L.G.B.T. people and their families.

The Gospel of Luke tells us the beautiful story of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus. Jesus is traveling through Jericho, a huge city. He’s on his way to Jerusalem, and it’s toward the end of his ministry, so he would have been well known in the area. As a result, he probably had a large crowd following him. In Jericho, there is a man named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region and so would have also been seen by the Jewish people as the “chief sinner.” Why? Because he would have been seen as colluding with the Roman authorities. So Zacchaeus was someone who was probably on the outs with everyone.

For Jesus, it’s community first, conversion second. Welcome and respect come first.

Now, here I would like you to invite you to think of Zacchaeus as a symbol for the L.G.B.T. Catholic. Not because the L.G.B.T. people are more sinful than the rest of us—because we’re all sinners. But because they feel so marginalized. Think of the L.G.B.T. person as Zacchaeus.

Luke’s Gospel describes Zacchaeus as “short in stature.” How little “stature” L.G.B.T. people often feel that they have in the church. Luke also says that Zacchaeus could not see Jesus “on account of the crowd.” That was probably because of his height, but how often does the “crowd” get in the way of the L.G.B.T. person encountering Jesus? When are we in the parish part of the “crowd” that doesn’t let L.G.B.T. people come close to God?

So Zacchaeus climbs a tree, because, as Luke tells us, he wanted to see “who Jesus was.” And this is what the L.G.B.T. person wants: to see who Jesus is. But the crowd gets in the way.

Now here comes Jesus making his way through Jericho, probably with hundreds of people clamoring for his attention. And whom does he point to? One of the religious authorities? One of his disciples? No, to Zacchaeus! And what does he say to Zacchaeus? Does he shout, “Sinner!” Does he shout, “You terrible tax collector”? No! He says, “Hurry down for I must stay at your house today!” It’s a public sign of welcome to someone on the margins.

Then comes my favorite line in the story: “All who saw it began to grumble!” Which is exactly what is happening today toward L.G.B.T. people. People grumble! Go online and you’ll see all the grumbling. An offer of mercy to someone on the margins always makes people angry.

But Zacchaeus climbs down from the tree and, as the Gospels say, he “stood there.” The original Greek is much stronger, statheis: he stood his ground. How often have L.G.B.T. people had to stand their ground in the face of opposition and prejudice in the church?

Then Zacchaeus says that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and repay anyone he has defrauded four times over. An encounter with Jesus leads to a conversion, as it does for everyone. And what do I mean by conversion? Not “conversion therapy.” No, the conversion that happens to Zacchaeus is the conversion that we’re all called to. In the Gospels, Jesus calls it metanoia, a conversion of minds and hearts. For Zacchaeus, conversion meant giving to the poor.

All this comes from an encounter with Jesus. Because Jesus’ approach was, more often than not, community first, conversion second. For John the Baptist the model was to convert first and then be welcomed into the community. For Jesus, it’s community first, conversion second. Welcome and respect come first.

This is how Jesus treats people who feel on the margins. He seeks them out before anyone else; he encounters them, and he treats them with respect, sensitivity and compassion.

So when it comes to L.G.B.T. people and their families in our parishes, it seems that there are two places to stand. You can stand with the crowd, who grumble and who oppose mercy for those on the margins. Or you can stand with Zacchaeus, and, more important, with Jesus.

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Paige Smyth
5 years 10 months ago

Also, don’t lie about what Jesus said, Martin. He said to turn away from sin. He is loving, but does not allow us to remain in sinful unrepentant behavior

A Fielder
5 years 10 months ago

Sometimes, those who claim to see sturbournly remain in their blindness. Jesus exposed some of these self-righteous frauds for who they really are. (John 9)

Kenneth Dye
5 years 9 months ago

And where does scripture say Jesus is homophobic? How is LGBT a sinful behavior to be repented of?

Andrew Wolfe
5 years 9 months ago

Sodomy was condemned from Genesis through the Epistles: see Romans 1:26. The constant condemnation of this sin through the centuries of the Church ought to be enough information for you. The Church has always been willing to extend God's forgiveness of such sins as well.

Paige Smyth
5 years 10 months ago

Also, what exactly is an “open minded pastor”? The truth is the truth. The Bible and the Catechism has defined this properly. What is true for a country pastor is true for a city pastor. That so the most ridiculous thing I have ever read

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

Very heart-felt, and several sentiments are admirable. But it includes several heterodox propositions, and unfortunately is completely oblivious to the actual crisis we have today in the Church and the world - which is a hypersexualized form of identity and self-righteousness, and an actual sexual abuse crisis inside the Church and our communities. Fr. Martin argues that it is anti-Christian to oppose gay marriage (implying acceptance of gay sex), gay adoption, gay priests, to teach against homosexuality from the pulpit, to oppose gender fluidity or the ever-changing LGBTQIA advance, all in the name of tolerance. Fr. Martin says words matter. He then uses L.G.B.T. 99 times, and claims the blessing of definitive and conclusive science on all 4 letters. But, that is wrong (as he admits later on re the T, he always ignores the B). He implies the Catechism is addressing the 4 letters when it uses the term homosexual. He says it is a "more recent challenge" but says they have been "excluded for so long." Is it new or old? Ever since the 1960s, there has been an attempt to deny the constant Christian teaching on sexuality. It has seduced hundreds of millions. The LGBTQ... is the end of this revolution and Fr. Martin is an unwitting or willing revolutionary, just like many Jesuits were seduced by Marxist liberation theologies a couple of decades ago, since subsided. The McCarrick scandal and its investigative aftermath will likely put the brakes on this anti-Christian revolution. The secular world, and a sizable subset of the Catholic clergy, need a metanoia and a return to the perennial teaching. It is the only truth that saves.

A Fielder
5 years 10 months ago

I read that Fr Martin received a standing ovation from the 1000+ attendees. Hmmm.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

Would not surprise me. Fr. Martin is always saying the LGBTQIA... movement is persecuted, when they are in control of all the power structures in the Republic, right up to the heads of government. There is Leo Varadkar, of course, and Simon Harris wants to outlaw the Church's teaching role. (The last President, Mary McAleese, advocate for blessing of gay marriages, also wants an end to child baptism!). Note the near perfect alignment between advocates for abortion, gay sex, and women priests in Ireland. The sad thing is that Pope Francis' own teaching and statements are being rebuffed by Fr. Martin. This contradiction will come to a head in the next few years, as the investigations come out. I note investigations into homosexual rings in several seminaries are already underway. I am not sure Pope Francis has the strength or conviction to fix the current crisis inside the Church hierarchy, as he seems most comfortable with politically popular left-of-spectrum issues that, no matter their importance, do not impinge on the central discipline of the Church. We may need a new Pope like Gregory VII.

Kester Ratcliff
5 years 10 months ago

Loneliness is a big part of being LGBT, especially if you don't live in a capital or large metropolitan city yet. For many reasons. There's this excellent and harrowing article- https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/

'It is not good for a man to be alone', Genesis.
Aquinas' and Aristotle's idea of teleologically 'ordered' and 'disordered' acts is not from the bible, but God's first observation about humans "it's not good for them to be alone" certainly is.
Condemning gay people to a life of "chaste friendship" is inhuman.

Another question - psychologically or spiritually, where does some Catholics' obsession with hating on gay people come from? what felt need does it seem to answer for them?

Kerianne Kuenz
5 years 10 months ago

A life of chastity is neither a "condemnation" nor "inhuman". In fact, the celibate life has always been held highest in virtue by the Church. It is a well-known and well-trodden path to holiness, which has been traversed by large unknown numbers of holy Saints.

This is exactly the confusion that Fr Martin sows -- what is good is claimed to be "evil" (or "inhuman" or a "condemnation"), while what is evil is claimed to be "good"!

To your question: Catholics who "hate on gay people" -- or any other people for that matter -- are committing a mortal sin, as hatred is a mortal sin.

Catholics who profess the truth about sin to "gay people" -- or any other people for that matter --- are following the Divine mandate of Jesus Christ Himself, which is to love our neighbors as yourself, which means telling others NOT to sin, just as we tell ourselves NOT to sin.

To lie about sin is an especially evil sin.

To lie about sin to people who are MOST tempted to the particular sin is outright DEMONIC.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

Kester - why do you and Fr. Martin and other advocates always descend to name-calling and accusations of hate when we are only following Scripture and Tradition and the Catechism, rather than try to convince us our interpretation of these sources of our faith are wrong. I think this only shows a rebellion against the true faith and a disdain for defending the faith. St. James says we will be forgiven a multitude of sins if we can convince people to come back from falsehood. James 5:19-20 "My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

Kenneth Dye
5 years 9 months ago

I agree with you Kester. I believe the Church is scrambling for existence as an institutional religion partly because of homophobic behavior. The Church teaches that science and religion do not disagree, so why doesn't the Church listen to what science says about LGBT people. Also, Jesus says not to judge or label others but we are all people that God loves. And we are all on this evolutionary journey together as God guides us to a higher, more glorious existence. Peace all my brothers and sisters.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 9 months ago

Kester, another Scripture that I use to quiet my soul is this

"Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do,
but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire."
1 Cor 7:8-9

Coupled with the many teachings of the Church on chastity being a gift, clearly if you don't have that gift, you are better off marrying than burning with lust. Many homosexuals realize this truth, and thus we subscribe to marrying instead of doing what many heterosexuals do: sleep around, divorce, leave their children, etc, etc, etc

The rest of that chapter is also instructive. I have met few heterosexuals who live these verses, opting instead of scapegoat homosexuals.

"To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord):* A wife should not separate from her husband
—and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband—and a husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest* I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband.For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy."

Lastly, many individuals who vilify homosexuals are homosexual themselves. Do not exclude the possibility that some of these forums might be homosexuals and attack people like me because of their own self-loathing. It happens all the time. We have already learned that some high ranking bishops and cardinals who have railed against homosexuals were homosexuals themselves. The louder their sanctimony, the likelier they are leading a double life

Vigano, is that you?


Andrew Wolfe
5 years 9 months ago

"Obsession," and "manipulation" better characterizes your phrase "Catholics' obsession with hating on gay people." You are being dishonest to say we hate the sinner by condemning the sin. We would be hating the sinner more by endorsing the sin—whether it's sodomy, fornication, drug abuse, assault. Admonishing the sinner is a work of mercy.

The loneliness encountered by gay people may be due to the nature of same-sex attraction. Does the Huffington Post article not suggest that same-sex attraction may be psychologically unhealthy, and loneliness a symptom?

And what did God do when He said "it is not good for man to be alone"? He sent WOMAN, not another man.

Fr. Mark Amaral
5 years 10 months ago

As a priest and a pastor in a suburban racially and culturally mixed parish in California, I read Fr. Martin's comments about priest's attitudes in the city vs. the country as totally offensive and degrading to sacrifices that many of us make in trying to live and teach the faith with fairness to everyone. Personally, I'm welcoming to anyone and everyone who comes to the parish and yes I do hold ALL people to the same standards and teach everyone equally. I do believe that God loves us all but with that love comes the invitation to conversion. Its seems that Martin feels that some people, even though he states that all should be held to the same standard of behavior in the faith life, should be exempted from that because of the status of simply being homosexual. I don't make this distinction and I never even ask....because answering the call to chastity and celibacy is just as difficult for heterosexuals as homosexuals...hormones are hormones. If we start to convince ourselves that homosexuals are a special class of people who are in need of a different set of standards based on their sexual identity alone (which he told us to not do in this article but he really wants us to do) then overt hypocrisy and confusion will bleed into every other part of parish life as well. This was really a poor article.

Cheri Reyes
5 years 10 months ago

Thank you, Fr. Mark, for responding to this article by Fr. Martin courageously. I think suffering is part of embracing the Church and I can guess some divorced Catholics or those who may be "out" as sinners because of not being married in the Church to a non-Catholic spouse are suffering in this context. Even a person who is involved in an adulterous affair will have to suffer in the pews hearing the truth spoken in the gospel and homilly. LGBT are welcome to our churches but the question is are they willing really to come? How many churches actually zero in on LGBT as sinners in the church? Extremes are rare, hopefully.

Arnoldo Miranda
5 years 10 months ago

A liberal Episcopalian priest could have given this talk. There is no basis of truth for any of it. Not even the science has validated the conjectures made in it. He describes the actual problem succinctly but with too many words and anecdotal stories that I find incredible. The Church evangelizes Christ and that must include the truth He brings even when it is not welcomed by those who can't accept the Church's anthropology.

J. Calpezzo
5 years 10 months ago

Do you have a gay family member?

Brian T
5 years 10 months ago

Anthropology that reifies prejudice is not anthropology; it is ignorance

Michael Barberi
5 years 10 months ago

Thank you Fr. Martin for this article. It is truly compassionate and courageous. It offers all of us a sincere reflection because the Catholic Church has not found way to treat LGBT Catholics with respect, compassion and sensitivity....save for a very few parishes. I know of some. However, I also know of far too many parishes who do not reach out to homosexual Catholics or welcome them.

When I read Fr. Martin's comments I reminded myself that he was not drawing any correlation between welcoming LGBT Catholics into our parishes and the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Nor was he minimizing heterosexual or homosexual priests who committed such crimes or the Bishops who covered up such crimes. Nor was his reflections in tension with a solution to the root causes of the sexual abuse scandal. Please read on.

As I have posted in other recent articles, the problem with clergy sexual abuse is moral corruption in a culture of clericalism. The overwhelming percent of homosexual and heterosexual priests are abiding by their vows of celibacy and doing the Lord's work. We all recognize that the answer to this sexual abuse scandal is complex. However, the answer is not to prohibit well-adjusted, mature homosexual men from entering the priesthood who want to love God and abide by their vows of celibacy. This would be irresponsible and scapegoating the issue.

> I repeat one of my suggestions: Any homosexual or heterosexual priest found guilty of sexual abuse of minors or consensual sex with adults should be removed from the priesthood. This includes Bishops who commit such crimes and those who covered up such crimes. Of course, there is room for forgiveness, effective psychological treatment and lifetime monitoring and oversight in some cases. However, a rigorist zero tolerance policy needed.
> The bishops must act in transparency and not in secret meetings as in the past. Lay Catholics, both men and women, including some women religious, should be advisors to the US Conference of Bishops and every diocesan Bishop. The feedback from every parish, of all parishioners, should be required on all important issues, even those teachings that most Catholics disagree with. Equally important, Bishops should act With courage to reform the structures, attitudes and root causes of this culture of clericalism.

Getting back to Fr. Martin's article. I would offer some thoughts for reflection.

1. The principal of graduation is practiced by priests especially when addressing Catholics who are in moral dilemma including those whose consciences cannot abide by every Church teaching. An example is contraception. I have spoken to many priests about this. A rigorist approach would be to deny absolution to Catholics in confession who practice contraception as a means to regulate fertility and don't believe contraception is a mortal sin. Clearly, most Catholics are not going to stop taking the pill and practice NFP. Let's get real here. Most Catholics in child bearing years practice contraception and many of them stand in line to receive the Eucharist every week. Priests treat such Catholics as habitual sinners, give them absolution and permit Eucharist reception. For those who don't confess contraception in confession, for good reasons, are not refused Holy Communion even when the Priest knows about it.
> One priest in Brooklyn, told parishioners for 3 consecutive Sunday Masses that anyone who is practicing contraception and has not received absolution should not approach the alter and receive the Eucharist. One month later, about 50% of weekly Mass attendees started to go the weekly Mass at the nearby parish where no such requirement was mentioned. The priest in this example stopped making such a public condemnation and Eucharistic requirement.

2. Why not apply the same principle of graduation for homosexual Catholics who seek forgiveness and pathway back to Christ? The truth is "there are no good answers" as to why some so-called sinners can receive the Body of Christ while others cannot. Witness today that Amoris Laetitia permits divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion! Yet, within the Catholic Church today, we have Bishops and Priests who will never do this, while many others permit it.

3. I think Fr. Martin's suggestions are a good first step.

4. Make no mistake about what I am saying. In no way am I suggesting condoning sex by two gay or lesbian Catholics. However, I continue to believe that homosexual couples who are married, civilly or in another Christian or Jewish House of Worship, are not without the grace of God. If they are in a moral dilemma, just like many divorced and remarried Catholics, and they want to come back to a welcoming Church and live a life pleasing to God, then a "Pastoral Pathway" must be established for those in a civil or Christian marriage without requiring them to live a life of sexual abstinence. Perhaps, God knows that many Catholics who are homosexual cannot make a full response to the Church's teaching at this time, but it is their best response in present circumstances. Is this not what Pope Francis said about many divorced and remarried Catholics?

Lastly, I know the knee jerk reaction of many Catholic who believe that we should all abide by every teaching of the Magisterium. I respect that. However, general moral principles are a good guide for moral behavior. However, as St. Thomas Aquinas said in paraphrase, the more detail the circumstances the less abiding is the general principle. We should all try to understand the difference between teachings and a pastoral application, between general moral principles and concrete circumstances. In the time of Christ, abiding by every letter of the Law was an example of holiness (e.g., the Pharisees). Christ demonstrated that it was the spirit of the Law that was more important.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 10 months ago

My husband converted to Catholicism over my objections. I wanted to spare him the pain of being gay and Catholic. I am a cradle Catholic. My husband and I met years ago and he knew that I was a practicing Catholic, loved and lived my Faith as best as I could, and rejected the hypersexual culture in America, vastly more prominent in heterosexuals than homosexuals. I also rejected the pride, wrath, envy, greed, sloth and gluttony so embedded in America. Knowing all this he attended RCIA at our parish, the Bishop baptized and confirmed him knowing we are a gay married couple. Today we pray the Rosary, say grace before meals, read Papal documents, attend Mass as a gay married couple, tithe, evangelize, minister, heal the sick, feed the hungry, help the poor and lead people to Christ. We do as Christ leads us.

Many are the heterosexuals in our midst who are flagrant sinners, prideful, engulfed in wrath and couldnt convince anyone to follow Christ because they lack joy, peace, humility and grace. Their children are not practicing Catholics, their marriages dysfunctional, their lives are a terrible mess when it comes to their physical and psychological health, they do not partake in the parish ministries, and grumble a great deal.. All this and yet we say nothing. I do not condemn them to Hell but I do worry about their health. They have much work to do to right their broken path, but so do we. My husband and I are not holy, nor are we perfect. Our families reject us despite their marrying, divorcing multiple times, steeped in their own addictions and at war with their demons. To them we are the sinners while they give themselves a pass

Systems are comprised of people, and the way to fix the system is to have people work on their own brokenness. Until then the system will remain broken.

It is all very basic: start with yourself and pray for others. It is the way of Christ

- a married gay Catholic couple

Michael Barberi
5 years 10 months ago

Thank you Bill for speaking out with love, courage and truthfulness. God Bless you and your spouse.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

Bill - You are arguing that heterosexuals are more hypersexual than homosexuals, contrary to all the scientific data. Here is a homosexual man who believes Fr. Martin, and other priests he met along the way, only postponed his recovery. https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/fr-martins-false-comfort. He sought the truth and received a lie. The priests he met, like Fr. Martin, gave him false comfort and failed to rescue him. May God have mercy on them.

Tim Brantley
5 years 10 months ago

Curious, what is it that draws you to the Church?

Dolores Pap
5 years 10 months ago

The church should be proud to have you and your spouse as a wonderful examples of what it means to live a life dedicated to living the examples set by the gospel.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when a religion indoctrinates people into thinking they are bad/unacceptable and need to change, then I would argue that it is not a good choice for their spiritual, and mental well-being.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

Dolores - what religion does not say their adherents need to change, when it comes to personal sexual morals? Perhaps, the Unitarians and the Quakers, but I cannot think of others. Even the liberals are trying to change people all the time. And they are definitely not a good choice for mental well-being.

Ivan Sokac
5 years 10 months ago

You objected your partners coversion to Catholicism. But as a Catholic you should fight for every soul to join the Catholic Church as outside of it there is no salvation . And there is no such thing as a gay marriage in Catholic church.

Although you do attend mass, pray, and help others you still live in sin and insist on it and because of that you can’t get absolution and receive holy communion. And still you don’t realize how grave your sin is. Catechism teaches us that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be aprooved”. Notice that it condemns acts, not a persons attraction to someone of the same sex. Sodomy is one of the sins that cry to heaven for vengeance, and that is the truth.

My brother, I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I’m telling this to you as one sinner to another, not to judge you but to admonish you, as a spiritual work of mercy.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 10 months ago

Ivan, Tim, et al,

I am a cradle Catholic. Despite people like you, I am alive and have not committed suicide, fallen to the evil one and thrown away my life. Fr Martin eloquently stated what I shall articulate in precise words: homosexuals suffer because of what heterosexuals do to us. Period.

Women, slaves, people with physical maladies, etc, all suffered because of what self righteous hypocrites did to them. In the course of time, church leaders came to their senses and reversed their polemics about slaves, women, Lepers, etc to a degree, but the suffering still continues by women and people with physical maladies. In time the church will realize that sex is not a sin, and the archaic procreative formula for sex is a hystrionic exercise in mental gymnastics, and as St Thomas Aquinas taught in the Summa, Q. 148 lust is inferior to gluttony. As it is, homosexuals like me are guilty of love, not lust, and I challenge any heterosexual to out-do what my gay husband and I do: go to Confession, adore the Eucharist, participate in the Body of Christ, and seek to love God with all of our might and our neighbor as well. Do these and you will fulfill your baptismal promises. Otherwise you are a clanging symbol, a noisy gong, and have no clue of who Christ is. This isnt a complicated formula. You make it complicated because of your sin: pride.

Take your gifts, leave them at the altar, and be reconciled to God and your neighbor. Homosexuals are your neighbor, as are women, immigrants, slaves, people with physical maladies, the homeless, the imprisoned, those on death row, etc, etc, etc.

I adore my Catholic Faith in spite of people who detract from the Church like Anthony Murray.
Been there, done that, you do not dissuade me from loving the Catholic Faith in spite of you being a colossal millstone and a flagrant example of causing scandal



“Crux is banned”

“For the first time in Crux’s history, one of our reporters actually was banned from something this week. On Thursday, Elise Harris was kicked out of the “Conference of Catholic Families,” a sort of rival conservative event taking place just down the street from the official World Meeting of Families.
(It’s not actually termed a “rival” anything, of course, but it’s happening in the same place and at the same time as the World Meeting, and it has a clearly different tone and constituency.)
When Harris arrived Thursday morning for day two of the event, she was stopped at the entrance and informed she was “not welcome.” In the course of asking why, organizers told Harris that she had covered the event the day before under false pretenses because she hadn’t purchased a ticket like everyone else.
There was also a clear suggestion they didn’t care for her coverage, expressed in phrases such as, “It’s people like you who harm the Church.” (As a hint of the ideological alignment involved, she was also told to “go talk to James Martin and all your liberal friends.” In context, that seemed the rough equivalent of, “Go to hell.”)“

Tim Brantley
5 years 10 months ago


You claim that “homosexuals suffer because of what heterosexuals do to us. Period.” What have I done to you? Is it the fact that I embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church, that I have made you suffer?

You’re quite free to reject Church teaching if you so choose and I respect someone who at least has the honesty to state that he/she rejects Church teaching if they do (unlike Fr. Martin). I don’t fault you for your views, but your intolerance toward those who do embrace Church teaching is quite evident.

I don’t doubt for a second that you believe homosexual acts are not sinful, and probably many other things…but the fact of the matter is this; You reference your devotion to the Church, to certain Sacraments, Confession, the Eucharist, etc. How is it that you even know these things are genuine? By what Authority do the Sacraments you reverence even exist? By what Authority do you know that they’re efficacious? Apparently, you only recognize the Authority of the Church when you happen to agree with it, otherwise the Church is wrong because you say it is, thereby making yourself the actual “authority”. You obviously don’t believe that the Church has anything at all to do with Salvation, evidenced by the fact that you urge others to stay away from Her.

You can blame “heterosexual Catholics” who adhere to the Faith all you want, but the fact remains that it’s you who’s responsible for your own intolerance and your own happiness as well.

I simply asked you “What is it that draws you to the Church”? By your response, it seems that you believe people are trying to “dissuade you from loving “your” (and therein lies the rub) Catholic Faith” You accuse others of not caring for the poor, people with physical maladies, women, homeless, slaves, etc…and you ignore your own intolerance of people who actually believe what Jesus promised of HIS Church, in regard to it’s Teaching Authority, and who actually embrace it even if means they, themselves need to change their own behavior.

The fact that you, personally, choose to reject the Authoritative teachings of the Church you say you love, does not give you the right to accuse others of wrongdoing because they embrace the Teachings of the Church that they actually love.


J Rabaza
5 years 10 months ago

Tim Brantley,

it is truly rich to read comments by you calling everyone heretic including the editors of this publication, all the while you claiming to be the purveyors of what is Catholic.

Pope Francis sends his regards

Tim Brantley
5 years 10 months ago

Julieta Rodriguez,
Feel free to quote me calling "everyone a heretic"...or even someone or anyone "a heretic"....
I don't claim at all to be the "purveyor of what is Catholic", on the contrary, I'm well aware that the Teaching Authority of the Church is the "Purveyor" and that I'm NOT, nor is Fr. Martin or you or anyone else, the authority. Which is precisely the point of my comments.
Good to know the Holy Father sends his regards, though!! Tell him I said hello next time you see him!!

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

Bill - I wish you the very best, which is heaven. If you take down your intolerant defenses for a moment, try to see what Holy Scripture says: ""Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Mt 7:21). The Catholic Church was established by Jesus to preserve true doctrine, as He knew there would be constant attempts by the Father of Lies to hide the saving truth. The first pope wrote: "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Pet 5:8-9).

The greatest suffering homosexuals have had is the HIV epidemic. Today there is a massive venereal disease epidemic, 30-40 times more common in homosexuals. This includes Syphilis, Gonorrhea, a resurgence of HIV and HPV infection (leading to Head and Neck cancer). Furthermore, the suicide rate is rising in the Western world, among LGBT (esp. trans) and atheists. It is not going down, despite overwhelming acceptance in the secular world. (https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.161.12.2303 and here: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-church-attendance-suicide-20160629-snap-story.html). Fr. Martin is so popular because he is sadly selling a false medicine.

bill carson
5 years 9 months ago

Bill- well, you’ve got it figured out. But you just might be in for a surprise 3 seconds after you die.

Ines Fresange
5 years 9 months ago

ItYou claim to read the Church documents, then you must know that the Catholic Church is very clear about marriage being a union between a man and a woman. Yet you are "married" to a man. You say "We do as Christ leads us". Christ himself condemned sodomy. Are you and your partner living a celibate life? Father James Martin is not coming up with a revolutionary idea. The Catholic Church has always welcomed people with same sex attraction, but let's not water it down , the Church calls them to a life of celibacy if they are to partake in the Sacraments.

Kenneth Dye
5 years 9 months ago

This is great to hear Bill. And I am so glad to hear that you and your husband are practicing Catholics. You bring meaning to the term "catholic". I have been divorced twice and now live with my girlfriend since 2005. I was baptized and confirmed in 2012. When I met my gf in 2005 she said she would NEVER date let alone marry a Catholic. I began researching Christianity in 2000 which led me to the Catholic church. All my life I never understood what was wrong with the human race that God was going to destroy most of us. But becoming Catholic I learned the words of Jesus-not to label people and judge them by it. I have tried to live by that. As a result my girlfriend loves the Catholic Church. She says she is Christian and doesn't want to officially join an organized Church but she will defend the the Catholic Church when someone says anything bad about them. She likes TBN but she will turn a deaf ear to negative talk about Catholicism. She attends Mass with me sometimes. I disagree with so much in the Church but I love the Church. And listening to you about your marriage is a welcome relief for me. So much in the Church needs to change and so much is so rich as gifts. I believe God is guiding the evolutionary journey of humanity that one day we will be introduced to life from other parts of the universe and they will welcome us as brothers and sisters. Peace to all reality.

Tim Brantley
5 years 10 months ago

Fr. Martin, please explain why it is that you claim fidelity to the Church while at the same time you consistently promote organizations and ministries who vigorously oppose the teachings of the Church in grave matters, who openly claim that homosexual acts are not sinful in the least, who openly support and advocate for same sex "marriage"? A person who believes as the Church teaches does not promote such organizations, only a person who is in agreement w/ them would promote them.
Please explain why it is that the vast majority of your "fans" and also your "heroes" are people who reject the teachings of the Church. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why this is, but I would like to hear your explanation.
Please explain why it is that you, a catholic priest, consistently refuse to affirm the teachings of the catholic Church in regard to the immorality of homosexual acts, having been asked to do so countless times by countless Catholic people. Why is it that you refuse to simply state your beliefs honestly?
When asked this question; "Do you believe Church teaching in regard to the nature of homosexual acts to be correct or incorrect?"...Why is it that you refuse to simply give an honest answer? The most you will ever say is that the teaching is "clear", you will never affirm it or reject it. I have much more respect for a person who rejects the teachings of the Church and simply says so than for a person who will not be honest one way or the other. That is a position unworthy of respect.
Please explain why it is that you when a priest proclaims the Truth as the Church teaches it, you give him the label of "homophobe".

A Fielder
5 years 10 months ago

"It is not easy to grasp the truth that we have received from the Lord. And it is even more difficult to express it. So we cannot claim that our way of understanding this truth authorizes us to exercise a strict supervision over others’ lives." (GE, 43)

"In effect, doctrine, or better, our understanding and expression of it, “is not a closed system, devoid of the dynamic capacity to pose questions, doubts, inquiries… The questions of our people, their suffering, their struggles, their dreams, their trials and their worries, all possess an interpretational value that we cannot ignore if we want to take the principle of the incarnation seriously. Their wondering helps us to wonder, their questions question us” "(GE, 44)

Why do you think Fr Martin was invited to address the Bishops at the World Meeting of Families?

J. Calpezzo
5 years 10 months ago

Amen Father!

Diane Jansen
5 years 10 months ago

Father Martin, most excellent article and Christian principles by which to live, love and learn. Thank you!!!

Tim O'Leary
5 years 10 months ago

As to the idea that LGBT is a persecuted class, the sin of Pride parade in Dublin was boldly supported by all the large political parties, all big media, all big business and banks (ATMs were relabeled GayTMs for the day), the Irish military and police forces, many religious leaders, and even Catholic clergy. The Catholic Church was the lone voice in the wilderness, like St. John the Baptist (and maybe some Baptists). Any institution who didn't get with the march was threatened and abused. Go online and see the photos as ask yourself if this is a persecuted pressure group, or the proud persecutors. Fr. Martin's narrative is a false one.

Lori Milas
5 years 10 months ago

This was a long article, so maybe I missed the answer to my question: are active gay couples permitted to receive communion? It should be a simple answer yes or no.
I have many gay friends, and it's hard imagining that I can tell them they are 'welcome' in my church, and are loved just as they are... and we embrace them... but they may never partake of any Sacrament as long as they are in a gay relationship.
So... have the rules changed? I see lots and lots of words, and lots of attempts to convince Catholics to love LGBT persons, BUT complete exclusion from the Sacraments. So, they might as well go somewhere else. Right? Ultimately, if they want to be a part of this church they will either have to stay celibate, or enter into a heterosexual relationship. Can you give us a clear answer on this, please?

John Whipple
5 years 10 months ago

The rules haven't changed. Baptized Catholics have the right to receive Communion unless they are conscious of being in a state of mortal sin (or the bishop has excommunicated them). It is the same standard that applies to everyone else.
The question is whether active gay couples are aware that they are in a state of mortal sin — just as with heterosexual couples who are cohabiting, or married couples who practice artificial contraception or have employed in vitro fertilization. They may all know that the Church teaches what they do is wrong, but do they believe they have committed mortal sin? Not do you think so, or do I think so, or does some other commenter think so. If they never honestly believed that they were committing mortal sin, they are not guilty of mortal sin, and can receive the sacraments. So it all depends on what they honestly believe in their own conscience about the state of their souls.
Of course, we should pray that their consciences will be touched by the Holy Spirit to recognize the truth.

Tim Brantley
5 years 10 months ago

Not exactly:

bill carson
5 years 10 months ago

Troubling piece. Martin wants desperately to believe that anyone with an interest in steering people away from homosexual sin truly hate the sinner. If only his wish could come true!

As it is, he objects to all efforts to change sinners. You could apply his interest to any type of sin. What’s so special about homosexual sin?

James Haraldson
5 years 10 months ago

What exactly is "innocent" about the intrinsically promiscuous life of bisexuality?

John Placette
5 years 10 months ago

Father Martin, I would agree with you on one point: hate the sin; love the sinner, but you cross a line when you enable the sinner.

I would also point you to the medical research of McHugh at Johns Hopkins.

Karen Nestor
5 years 10 months ago

I read Father Martin's article with a joyful heart as he addressed this pastoral issue with the understanding we see daily in the word of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Father Martin expresses the compassion that Jesus showed, the love that Jesus called us to, and the sound teaching that the Great Teacher embodied. His respect for LGBT individuals, and for their families, is a model for all parishes to contemplate as they consider how to minister to all of God's children in the way that God made them -- with the limitless love of the triune God. Your words, Father Jim, are balm in a troubled time, because they focus on the care we should have for each other, just as we expect the good Lord to care for each of us in all of our complexity.

Dennis Doyle
5 years 10 months ago

Cutting to the chase. The majority of the commentators ( so far) castigate Martin for welcoming a group of people whose sexual orientation the Church considers disordered and whose sexual union it considers a sin. The commentators are correct. That is what the Church teaches. Martin end runs the Church’s teaching by appealing to a very broad gospel principle of love and acceptance of all humans. Thus Martin is considered a traitor by the those that cling to the Church’s teaching and Martin considers them narrow minded Pharisees who Christ would have driven out of the Temple. Martin is smart, he knows he is freelancing, and tries to dance up to but not aggressively beyond the line so he does not have the ecclesiastical rulers silence him. Many people have asked Martin why, if he espouses views inconsistent with Church teachings, he just does not leave the Church, and thereafter tell everyone the Church is nuts and has hijacked the story of Christ coming to save everyone and not just those who are not L.G.B.T.
Martin believes the Church is a hypocrisy , needs to be reformed , and he can better reform it as an insider
The Church , while they will never say it, is ambivalent about Martin’s positions. They don’t want to lose all the folks that hate Martin’ insouciance, yet they want to let Martin hold in the fold those whom the Church’s teachings have marginalized. in other words they don’t want to lose money.
Thats it folks. Its all a big game , and you are being used. Sorry.

ron chandonia
5 years 10 months ago

Wish AMERICA had a "like" button for this comment. The last line pretty much tells the story of Catholicism today.

Tim Brantley
5 years 10 months ago

You make some good points, but also some flaws. Fr. Martin is not being castigated for welcoming people. The Church already welcomes all people and is the only means of true repentance, forgiveness, and new life. He's getting push-back for his failure to love. The "love" he offers is not authentic. The mercy he proposes is false, it neglects and even omits the Truth. He encourages people who need the Truth to do what is contrary to the Truth. He refers them to places where they will be told that their actions are not wrong but rather "good". As a Catholic priest, those sins of omission and commission are especially grave.
You're right, he does consider those who embrace the teachings of the Church on this matter and other matters as well, as narrow minded, "homophobic", and even "haters".
You're also right that he's careful as to not cross certain lines, but that does not make him "smart", as you say, rather, it displays dishonesty and cowardice, neither of which are "smart". I agree, he does want to change the Church, and you're right, he uses his position on the inside, but he misuses it, which again is extremely dishonest and wrong. It's his hope (by his own words) that the Church's teachings on the matter will drastically change (although they cannot).
The Church's teachings have marginalized no one, one's rejection of the Church's teachings (Truth) is the cause of one's own detriment, whatever the teaching may be. The irony is that many want the Church to change Her teachings by an act of Authority that they reject in the very first place and they don't even realize the unreasonableness and illogic of that self-defeating position.
There are many good, faithful priests and clergy who do, in fact, speak out in opposition to Fr. Martin's erroneous views. Not nearly enough, though.

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