Tag Archives: Building a Bridge

Paulist Fathers Endorse LGBT Ministry, Deplore Homophobia

The Paulist Fathers have issued a statement in support of Fr James Martin SJ, after a vicious conservative social media campaign led to the withdrawal of an invitation to speak to Theological College on the subject of “Encountering Jesus”.

Of particular interest to me, is a specific statement on the importance of his work encouraging dialogue in  LGBT pastoral ministry, and deploring homophobia and intolerance.

We support Fr Jim Martin’s vision to engage the Church pastoral practice on the care of our LGBT brothers and sisters, as exemplified in his book.He chose to write on a subject that should unite all Christians: the human dignity of every person. Yet, for some, this book’s call for the simple act of love and respect is perceived as a slippery slope towards heresy and damnation. From our reading of the book, this is simply not the case.

Moreover, this incident exposes the ugliness of homophobia and intolerance in our church and society that is in desperate nee of reconciliation and healing.

The full text of the statement may be read at this tweet by Fr Martin:

Spirituality and LGBT Catholics

Among many notable interviews that Fr James Martin has done about the impact of this book, “Building a Bridge” on finding a path to full inclusion of LGBT Catholics in the life of the church, is one done with Giacomo Sanfillipo, at Orthodoxy in Dialogue, a website that is pursuing much the same aims for Orthodox  Christians.

Much of the discussion will be familiar from other interviews and reviews elsewhere. However, I was struck in particular by Fr Martin’s concluding observation, on the value of  spirituality and prayer, to both sides in this debate.

It is certainly my own experience that a grounding in spirituality and prayer is the strongest possible defence against any potential harm from Vatican doctrines or hurtful rhetoric from misguided bishops. When one is struggling with messages from the institutional church, I find that it is always best to apply direct to the source of Christianity, in prayer and biblical reflection. One thing we can be sure of, is that however much it may seem that the church rejects us, God never does.

Here’s Fr Martin, concluding the interview:

GIACOMO: Your closing thoughts?

FATHER JIM: One thing that has surprised me, and even baffled me, is that most reviewers have completely ignored the entire second half of the book. The invitation to dialogue, which we’ve been talking about here, is only the first half of the book. The second part is a series of Scriptural meditations and reflection questions designed to help LGBT people reflect on their relationship with God, with the church and with themselves. So it’s surprising that very few reviewers bothered to review the whole book. It really is the most remarkable thing. When have you ever heard of reviewers only reviewing one half of a book?

Now why is that? I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is.On the secular left, perhaps they simply cannot enter into any sort of conversation about spirituality, or they think that spirituality is useless. You know, if you don’t believe God exists, then it’s going to be hard to appreciate an invitation to prayer. On the far right, perhaps they cannot admit that these passages might have something new to say to them about LGBT people. When I’m feeling in a darker mood, I wonder if it’s because a few on the far right, even in the church, feel that LGBT people can’t have a spiritual life. Or that they don’t deserve one. Or maybe, on both sides, on the far right and the far left, people are more comfortable with debate than they are with prayer.