At The Advocate, Daniel Reynolds described Fr. James Martin’s response to an antigay Facebook comment as “an open-minded history lesson.”
Fr. James Martin said some Catholic saints were “probably gay.”The Jesuit priest — who was appointed in April by Pope Francis as a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications — gave this history lesson in tolerance on May 5 to an antigay Facebook commenter.
Martin had posted a link to an article about a prayer led by Bishop John Stowe at an LGBT Catholic gathering coordinated by New Ways Ministry. An offended social-media follow responded, “Any cannonized Saints would not be impressed.” To which Martin replied, “Some of them were probably gay.
“A certain percentage of humanity is gay, and so were most likely some of the saints,” Martin added. “You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women.”
For LGBT Catholics, it should be no surprise that some saints were “LGBT” in modern, anachronistic terminology. I discussed some of them in a brief address to Quest conference in Chichester, a few years ago, under the heading “Some Very Queer Saints and Martyrs“. I’ve also written much more extensively on the subject at my companion blog, “Queer Saints and Martyrs“. (Kittredge Cherry is another who has written at length, in a gay saints series at QSpirit (previously “Jesus in Love” blog). More important to me, is the source of the observation – the Jesuit priest, Fr James Martin SJ.
Martin is highly respected for his work as journalist covering the Catholic Church – so highly regarded, that as The Advocate notes, he was recently appointed to an advisory position in the Vatican communications department. As a journalist, he has covered the full range of Catholic issues. Among these, he has frequently written sympathetically about LGBT people in the Catholic Church – for example, in November 2009 he posed an important question in the Jesuit magazine America: “What should a gay Catholic do?” In the years since, the question has received ever increasing attention – and with it, sympathy for the very real dilemma in which we find ourselves. Initially, his writing was particularly concerned with “gay” Catholics – gay men, and by extension, lesbians. Trans issues originally were not covered. In this incident however, it is notable that his language has shifted to the more inclusive descriptor, “LGBT”
What is a gay Catholic to do? A Question Comes Out of the Closet (Queering the Church)
The Story of the Queer Saints and Martyrs: Synopsis (Queer Saints and Martyrs)
LGBT Saints Series (QSpirit)