Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a noted Catholic author and speaker, reacted strongly to LGBT hatred on Facebook and Twitter this week, following negative comments on his posts about the firing of gay church workers and discussions on same-sex couples during the Synod.
Martin posted New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s latest column, titled “The Church’s Gay Obsession.” In the piece, Bruni again highlighted the growing number of church workers who lost their jobs in 2014 due to LGBT-related employment disputes. Martin commented on the link:
“Why does it seem that some Catholic parishes and schools fire employees only over the issue of same-sex marriage? What about adherence to other church teachings? And what of those employees who aren’t Catholic, and therefore don’t subscribe to even more basic church teachings–the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Trinity? An opinion piece on the selectivity of such litmus tests.”
Less than twenty-four hours later, Martin asked the discussion around that post to stop because he was “worn out deleting all the homophobic comments.”
Martin also posted several LGBT-themed pieces about the synod on marriage and family life currently happening in Rome, including theologian James Alison’s remarks at a pre-conference, and the testimony of an Australian lay couple who made headlines for speaking openly about same-sex couples. Each post produced hundreds of comments, not all of which were positive.
This week’s experience led Fr. Martin to offer an evening meditation with an accompanying icon of Matthew Shepherd from artist Fr. William McNichols. That meditation said, in part:
“Today I received dozens of messages from LGBT Catholics expressing their pain, after having read some of the comments on this page. It’s not surprising that they feel so much pain. I’m sad to say that too many Catholics, in almost every corner of our church, from chanceries to sacristies to homes, still harbor hatred and fear of gays and lesbians. It’s not only scandalous but sinful.
“But there are other reasons for their pain. Some people may not know that over 20 percent of hate crimes are violence against people based on their sexual orientation (the vast majority being LGBT people). Or that LGBT youth are in this country four times more likely to commit suicide. Worldwide, in five countries and in parts of two others, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty, while a further 70 countries imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation.
“Today’s Gospel, in which Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan, may also speak to us about LGBT persons. For the parable is not only about being compassionate to someone in need, but how the carrier of grace is often the one who has been rejected, despised and marginalized.
“So tonight, perhaps we could pray for our LGBT brothers and sisters. Let us pray for an end to violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as well as an end to the kind of language, especially within our church, that may lead to hatred for, rejection of, or violence against gays. And let us work so that every gay person feels as welcome as everyone else does in the church into which they were called at their baptism–by God.”
One final note is that Fr. Martin posted a link just yesterday on the Synod’s approach to LGBT issues thus far, adding his comment that:
“I believe that the Holy Spirit is inviting us to find new ways to welcome LGBT Catholics as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because that is what they are.”
This is not the first time Fr. James Martin has posted and spoken publicly about the need for greater pastoral care and inclusion when it comes to LGBT people, but this week has produced some of his strongest and most moving comments. To find him on Facebook, click here and to follow him on Twitter, click here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry