The upcoming World Meeting of Families (WMF) has invited Fr. James Martin, SJ, to present on welcoming LGBT people in parishes.
The decision to invite Martin, who authored the book Building a Bridge on LGBT issues in the Catholic Church, was announced yesterday with the release of the Meeting’s program. Martin told America Magazine:
“‘The message to L.G.B.T. Catholics seems straightforward: you’re an important part of the church. . .I’m tremendously grateful for this invitation, not so much for what it says about my own ministry or writing but what it says to L.G.B.T. Catholics, a group of people who have for so long felt excluded. . .I hope they see this invitation, which had to be approved by the Vatican, as an unmistakable sign of welcome from the church.'”
Martin explained that the invitation was jointly offered by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life at the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Dublin, who are together organizing the Meeting. He will be presenting about “best practices” for parishes on how to show welcome to LGBT Catholics and their families.
Martin has been an increasingly vocal advocate on LGBT inclusion. His book has prompted an ongoing conversation from all sides, which has led to a second edition as well as international editions. For instance, an archbishop in Italy recently wrote a preface to the Italian edition. You can read Bondings 2.0‘s interview with Martin about the second edition here.
A chorus of Irish voices have appealed to WMF organizers for the event to be LGBT inclusive, including the former Irish president, Mary McAleese, her son Justin McAleese, who is gay, the nation’s current prime minister who is gay, Leo Varadkar (andwith whom Pope Francis will meet during his visit to Ireland this August), the Irish Republic’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, the lay-led Association of Catholics in Ireland, and the church reform group We Are Church Ireland.
At least three Irish bishops (Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin) have said the Church must improve its pastoral engagement with LGBT people. Cardinal Kevin Farrell of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life has said all must be welcome at WMF 2018, though he did not refer specifically to LGBT inclusion.
Previously, LGBT advocates raised concerns that WMF 2018 would exclude LGBT families after LGBT-related images and text were removed from WMF preparatory materials and an Irish bishop, now ministering in the U.S., was censored in a video for acknowledging LGBT families exist. Organizers have failed to explain both of these decisions.
At the WMF 2015, held in Philadelphia, the only session on LGBT issues was led by a celibate gay man and his mother speaking on homosexuality. Outside the event, a workshop on transgender issues held by New Ways Ministry had been removed from Catholic property, but still took place in another venue. Other activities were organized by LGBT pilgrims from the Equally Blessed coalition.
Fr. Martin’s presentation on positively and respectfully engaging LGBT families is indeed “an unmistakable sign of welcome,” and one that will hopefully allay the many concerns of Irish Catholics and LGBT advocates in advance of WMF 2018. With more than 30,000 people registered for the event, this is a great opportunity for Fr. Martin and LGBT people to help show the Church, and especially Church leaders, the goodness and holiness of their families.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 12, 2018
Associated Press: “Vatican-backed family rally to have speech on welcoming gays“