New Catholic LGBT Book Is Praised by High Church Leaders

A new Catholic book on LGBT issues, whose main text is based on a talk given at a New Ways Ministry event, has been praised by the Vatican official in charge of family life, a U.S. cardinal who is close to Pope Francis, and a bishop who is leading the call for greater pastoral care for LGBT people.  Their dust jacket blurbs join one by Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, New Ways Ministry’s co-founder

Rev. James Martin, SJ, and the cover of his new book.

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, by Rev. James Martin, SJ, will be published June 13, 2017, and its dust jacket contains high praise comments from Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery of Laity, Family, and Life; Cardinal Joseph Tobin, picked personally by Pope Francis to lead the embattled Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey; and Bishop Robert McElroy, head of the San Diego Diocese, who has made LGBT inclusion one of his regular themes; and Sister Jeannine.

The main portion of the book is an adaptation of the talk Fr. Martin gave when he received New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award at the end of October 2016.   In addition, the book, which is to be published by HarperOne, will also contain prayer aids and other pastoral material.

David Gibson, a veteran Church observer who writes for Religion News Servicebroke the news about this high praise from Church officials for a gay-friendly book.  In the course of the article, Gibson noted that the praise from church officials for a book which had its origins in a New Ways Ministry program, signaled a momentous shift:

“A co-founder of New Ways Ministry is Sister Jeannine Gramick, whose views were considered so far outside the bounds of Catholic teaching that she was barred by the Vatican and her order from speaking about homosexuality. She transferred to another order and has continued to minister and speak and write on the topic. . . . That she is endorsing the same book as senior church leaders is an indication of the sea change under Francis.”

Fr. Martin told Religion News Service that he sees the praise from these high Church officials as signaling greater sensitivity on LGBT issues:

“I was delighted that Cardinal Farrell and Cardinal Tobin found the book helpful. To me, it’s a reminder that many in the hierarchy today support a more compassionate approach to LGBT Catholics.”

The following quotations are from the comments on the book’s dust jacket:

Cardinal Kevin Farrell

Cardinal Kevin Farrell:

“A welcome and much-needed book that will help bishops, priests, pastoral associates, and all church leaders more compassionately minister to the LGBT community. It will also help LGBT Catholics feel more at home in what is, after all, their church.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin

Cardinal Joseph Tobin:

“In too many parts of our church LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome, excluded, and even shamed. Father Martin’s brave, prophetic, and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.”

Bishop Robert McElroy

Bishop Robert McElroy:

“The Gospel demands that LGBT Catholics must be genuinely loved and treasured in the life of the church. They are not. [Fr. Martin] provides us with the language, perspective, and sense of urgency to replace a culture of alienation with a culture of merciful inclusion.”

Sr. Jeannine Gramick

Sister Jeannine Gramick:

Gibson’s reporting summarized the main text of the book concisely:
“In his talk, as in the book, Martin called on church leaders and all Catholics to treat gays and lesbians with greater respect and sensitivity. . . .But he also called on gays and lesbians to be more considerate and respectful of the hierarchy, saying both sides must listen to each other and learn from each other.”
New Ways Ministry presented Fr. Martin with the Bridge Building Award last year because of his past achievements in promoting dialogue between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church.  Yet, with the publication of this book, and the praise for it from church officials, shows his bridge building gifts are continuing to grow.
Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, April 8, 2018
0 replies
  1. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    Amazing! What is most significant about this book, is that the work of New Ways Ministry is bearing fruit. And Sr. Jeannine and her cofounder of New Ways – Fr. Bob Nugent – who were under such investigation and opposition from the Vatican for so many years, have been proven to be prophets.

  2. Edward Poliandro
    Edward Poliandro says:

    Excellent, Frank! I notice Jeanine used “Gays and Lesbians” in her quote and not LGBT as you did. What about Bisexual and Trans Catholics? Ed

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Francis DeBernardo, Editor
      Francis DeBernardo, Editor says:

      Actually, the reference to “gays and lesbians” was not from Jeannine, but from David Gibson’s Religion News Service article. Jeannine’s quote doesn’t mention either “gays and lesbians” or “LGBT.” She just refers to the Rosary and the rainbow flag, not to groups of people.

  3. Tim MacGeorge
    Tim MacGeorge says:

    I look forward to reading this book. I especially like Cardinal Tobin’s comment reminding all that “… LGBT Catholics … are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.”

    If the book lives up to its pre-publication praise — as I’m certain it will — perhaps NWM will promote it as the 2017 answer to “what to get your pastor / parish priest for Christmas”!

  4. Peter Beacham
    Peter Beacham says:

    Father Martin suggests that “gays and lesbians to be more considerate and respectful of the hierarchy, saying both sides must listen to each other” as Sister Gramick puts it. That is like being respectful and considerate of someone who is beating you to death while he is doing it. The LGBT community has considered the Church and its hierarchy and found it not respectful.

    • Don Siegal
      Don Siegal says:

      That is like being respectful and considerate of someone who is beating you to death while he is doing it

      That is ironic. I am the director or RCIA in the very conservative San Joaquin Valley, California. I use a publication “Sunday by Sunday” as one of my source materials published by an order of women religious in Minnesota.

      One of the of the questions that I am using for this Sunday’s dismissal from the above publication is: “Who in our world is living Jesus’ crucifixion?”

      Thank you for your input.

      • Peter Beacham
        Peter Beacham says:

        I will assume that you are not suggesting that LGBT people go quietly to their deaths at the hands of homophobes in the Catholic hierarchy and that, instead, the abusers should start crucifying their egos and give up their homophobia.

  5. Joe
    Joe says:

    I remember listening to Fr. Martin’s words during his speech and being really irritated that he kept falsely equivalating the Church’s abuse of the LGBT community with gay people “making fun” of the church. It’s an issue of power; One group (the Church) has power to influence social policy around the world, the other group does not. I hope Fr. Martin’s book helps the hierarchy move a bit, but for some of us, the institutional church has long way to go before it becomes relevant in the lives of the LGBT community

  6. Friends
    Friends says:

    Great news! At least from our perspective, the famous Biblical injunction of Daniel 5:25 — “Mene, Mene,Tekel, Upharsin” — is now in play. Scriptural reference here:

    Here’s a clip from the brief commentary at the reference site: “Soon will every impenitent sinner find the writing of God’s word brought to pass upon him — whether he is weighed in the balance of the law as a self-righteous Pharisee, or in that of the gospel as a painted hypocrite.”

    So, who exactly are the “self-righteous Pharisees” and “painted hypocrites” condemned in the Biblical text? Is it those who praise faithfully bonded loving human relationships…or those who condemn the faithfully bonded loving relationships of other human beings…often while the critics themselves are engaged in covert hypocritical and morally corrupt behavior?

    Food for thought…on this Palm Sunday weekend.

  7. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    Sincere CONGRATULATIONS to Father Martin. One of the first next steps for the hierarchy might be to lobby to remove the negative descriptors of the LGBTQ sexual orientation in the Catechism of the Catholic Church eg “intrinsically disordered” and “in no way can be approved..”


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