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America StaffMay 09, 2022
Pope Francis leads his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Oct. 21, 2020. In a new documentary, Pope Francis expressed openness to the idea of laws recognizing civil unions, including for gay couples, to protect their rights. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis lent a nod of support to a new project that provides resources for L.G.B.T. parish ministry in a note to James Martin, S.J.

Father Martin, who launched the Outreach website earlier this month, wrote a letter to Pope Francis on May 5, asking three questions he said he commonly hears from L.G.B.T. Catholics and their families. The editor at large at America received the pope’s response three days later: a hand-written note, in Spanish.

The first question Father Martin asked Francis was what he thought the most important thing L.G.B.T. people should know about God.

Pope Francis lent a nod of support to a new project that provides resources for L.G.B.T. parish ministry in a note to James Martin, S.J.

“God is Father and he does not disown any of his children,” Pope Francis responded. “And ‘the style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness.’ Along this path you will find God.”

In response to another question, the pope said he would encourage L.G.B.T. people to read the Acts of the Apostles to discover an “image of the living church.”

Finally, the pope urged L.G.B.T. people to view negative experiences in the church not as rejection by the institution but as unfortunate encounters with individuals.

“I would have them recognize it not as ‘the rejection of the church,’ but instead of ‘people in the church,’” the pope said in response to a question about what message he would like to give to L.G.B.T. Catholics who have experienced rejection from the church. “The church is a mother and calls together all of her children.”

“God is Father and he does not disown any of his children,” Pope Francis said. “And ‘the style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness.’ Along this path you will find God.”

Francis cited a Gospel story as an example.

“Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: ‘the just, the sinners, the rich and

the poor, etc. [Matthew 22:1-15; Luke 14:15-24]. A ‘selective’ church, one of ‘pure blood,’ is not Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.”

The correspondence from the pope was published Monday to Outreach: An L.G.B.T.Q. Catholic Resource, a website launched by Father Martin that is affiliated with America Media. The goal of the resource, according to the website, is “to help L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics know that God loves them, that they are at the heart of their church and that they have many gifts to offer the People of God.”

Next month, Father Martin, author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, is hosting a conference about L.G.B.T. Catholic ministry, similar to an online event hosted last year.

Father Martin, who regularly advocates for the church to be more welcoming to L.G.B.T. Catholics and their families, met with Pope Francis in 2019, and last year, Francis sent a letter to Father Martin, encouraging him in his ministry.

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