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
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 Service, broke 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:
“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:
“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:
“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.”
Sister Jeannine Gramick: