Fr. Gil Martinez, CSP, the pastor of the parish whose members organized the video, “Owning Our Faith,” revealed that he personally handed Pope Francis a copy of the DVD in which LGBT Catholics discuss their identities and relationship with the church. The pope’s reaction was amazingly positive.
Martinez spoke with The Huffington Post, telling about his visit to the Vatican where he had the chance to briefly meet the pontiff:
“I gave [the DVD] to him and I said, ‘This is from the gays and lesbians of the United States. . .He thanked me very much and he said, ‘I would love to visit and talk to gay and lesbian people and please tell the gays to pray for me and I shall pray for them. . .It was a really great, great moment.”
Martinez, the pastor of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, did so following morning Mass celebrated by the pope in his residence, Domus Sanctae Marthae. The priest described encountering Francis as “very exciting.”
The Huffington Post gave further details of the encounter:
” ‘I gave [the DVD] to him and I said, “This is from the gays and lesbians of the United States,” ‘ Father Martinez remembered, and recalled that the two had a brief conversation in Spanish about the Pope’s upcoming trip to the United States.
” ‘I said, ‘If you could watch it, it would be great,’ Martinez said, to which the Pope (amusingly) inquired as to whether it was a proper ‘european DVD.’ “
The “Owning Our Faith” video has received wide attention in the media. The main purpose of producing it, explained Michael Tomae, the project organizer, was exactly what happened at Martinez’ Vatican meeting: they wanted church leaders to hear the stories of LGBT Catholics. In an interview published on The Huffington Post, Tomae explained:
“We hope to shed light on this issue and foster a dialogue on greater acceptance of LGBT people within the Catholic Church.”
The “Owning Our Faith” project is now developing a new phase of its campaign. The organizers are inviting any and all LGBT Catholics and allies to share their own personal stories of faith and identity by submitting a video to Own YOUR Faith. They ask that the videos provide refelctions upon some of the following questions:
“Have you struggled accepting the Church’s teaching on homosexuality? Explain.
Why do you think LGBT people are gifts to the Catholic Church?
Have you reconciled being LGBT & Catholic?
Why is faith important to you?”
“Owning Our Faith” will be screened at Keystone Catholics‘ “Papal Family Picnic” in Philadelphia this Saturday, part of a whole line-up of Catholic LGBT events scheduled to coincide with the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit to that city.
If Pope Francis would like to speak with gay and lesbian Catholics, he will have plenty of opportunities on this U.S. trip. The Equally Blessed pilgrims to the World Meeting of Families would love to meet with him. Fired teacher Margie Winters and her wife Andrea deVettori have requested a meeting with the pope. And David Gibson, writing about LGBT people’s expected presence at today’s White House’s welcome of the pontiff, noted that Francis’ request for prayers from gay and lesbian people may be easy for him to make in person:
“On Wednesday at the White House, the pope may be able to deliver that message in person — if he can find them in the crowd.”
Indeed, Michael Tomae and Margie Winters will be among the list of Catholic LGBT people attending this White House event.
Though no encounters with LGBT people are scheduled for Pope Francis’ U.S. trip, but that doesn’t mean some might not happen. With this pontiff, texts and schedules and protocols are subject to the Holy Spirit. Like so many of his trips and events in past years, this trip could turn out to be quite surprising!
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–Bob Shine and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry