Politics

Pope Francis Welcomes Priest To Vatican To Discuss LGBTQ Issues

(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Save the Children)

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
  • Pope Francis welcomed Fr. James Martin to the Vatican Monday for a private papal audience.
  • Martin is the author of a book on building a bridge between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community.
  • The private papal audience comes after two Catholic bishops spoke out against Martin, saying he is intentionally misleading and does not correctly teach Catholic doctrine.

Pope Francis welcomed a priest to the Vatican Monday for a private papal audience following backlash from two Catholic bishops over Fr. James Martin’s teaching on LGBTQ Catholics.

Martin, who is the author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” announced Monday that he attended a private meeting with Pope Francis.

The Vatican listed Martin’s meeting with Pope Francis on the list of the pope’s daily activities, a move that shows Francis wished it to be public since the Vatican only announces some of Francis’ private meetings, the Associated Press notes.

Dear friends,” Martin tweeted early Monday morning. “Today Pope Francis received me for a private 30-minute audience in the Apostolic Palace, where I shared with him the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide. I was so grateful to meet with this wonderful pastor.”

One of the highlights of my life,” Martin wrote in another tweet with a picture of him sitting across from a smiling Pope Francis. “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.”

Pope Francis listened intently to Martin’s presentation on the struggles of LGBTQ Catholics, Martin told the Associated Press in a phone interview Monday.

“I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by our meeting,” he said. “It was like talking to the most compassionate parish priest you can imagine.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia spoke out against Martin in a Sept. 19 column after Martin spoke about themes in his book at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia on Sept. 17.

While Chaput said that many of Martin’s efforts to “accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria” have been “laudable,”  he also said that Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Catholic Church.

“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.”

Chaput referenced several of Martin’s teachings that Chaput says do not align with Catholic teaching, including Martin’s claim that “same-sex attracted people and those with gender dysphoria should be labeled according to their attraction and dysphoria” in Church documents. He also addressed Martin’s statement that people are born gay and Martin’s suggestion that the Catholic teaching that same-sex attraction is “objectively disordered” should be changed.

“While the Church does teach that the body is integral to human identity, our sexual appetites do not define who we are,” Chaput wrote. “If we are primarily defined by our sexual attractions, then, in order to be fulfilled, it would follow that we must identify with and act on our attractions.”

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois issued a Sept. 19 statement supporting Chaput’s words.

“Father Martin’s public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God’s law,” Paprocki wrote.

“People with same-sex attraction are indeed created and loved by God and are welcome in the Catholic Church,” Paprocki added. “But the Church’s mission to these brothers and sisters is the same as to all her faithful: to guide, encourage, and support each of us in the Christian struggle for virtue, sanctification, and purity.”

Paprocki added that this is not a matter of opinion but of “our Lord’s own teaching as we hear in Luke’s Gospel: ‘Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.’”

Martin responded to Chaput’s comments in a letter also posted Sept. 19, saying that the talk he gave at St. Joseph’s University had been previously vetted by the Vatican and that he was sorry Chaput felt the need to post his column about Martin.

Neither the Vatican nor Martin have yet responded requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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