Pope Francis met yesterday morning with Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, to discuss LGBTQ ministry.
While the pope has been hailed as a LGBTQ-friendly leader — he famously asked “Who am I to judge?” early in his papacy — his actions have reiterated the Catholic Church’s anti-LGBTQ stance. He has said a straight marriage is the only legitimate “human family,” proclaimed that same-sex unions “may not simply be equated with marriage,” and referred to transgender people as an “annihilation of man as image of God.” This isn’t surprising from the head of the Catholic Church, but it’s a far cry from a religious leader who’s an ally of LGBTQ people.
No wonder Martin wanted to speak with him.
One of the highlights of my life. I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by the Holy Father today. And his time with me, in the middle of a busy day and a busy life, seems a clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide. (Foto@VaticanMedia). pic.twitter.com/1BeaiVh0Q4
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) September 30, 2019
In a tweet Monday, Martin said that during the 30-minute meeting, he shared with Francis “the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.”
In a telephone interview, Martin said Francis listened intently to his presentation, delivered in Spanish, about the struggles of LGBT Catholics “and how many of them still feel marginalized” by the Church.
“I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by our meeting,” he said. “It was like talking to the most compassionate parish priest you can imagine.”
That would be more encouraging if the pope showed any sign of agreement. Just listening to those grievances is hardly deserving of praise. Indeed, all this pontificating about how to “love” LGBTQ people is moot if the Church still holds to its toxic theology that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and rejects same-sex marriage. There are studies that show how even having one affirming adult in a young gay person’s life can reduce their suicide risk dramatically, yet no one could describe the Catholic Church as welcoming of LGBTQ people with a straight face.
This isn’t merely hypothetical: Anti-gay rhetoric, faith-based or otherwise, incites violence. It has real-life consequences. While Martin should be applauded for requesting and receiving the private meeting, he didn’t say anything LGBTQ Catholics haven’t been trying to convey to Church leaders for years. Unless there’s action resulting from a meeting like this, what’s the point? No amount of heartbreaking stories and reminders of God’s love can compete with the Church’s rules.
(via Religion News Service)