Pope Francis in Letter to LGBTQ Catholics: God “Does Not Disown Any of His Children”

Letter from Pope Francis to Fr. James Martin

Pope Francis has written another letter to LGBTQ people, saying this time that God “does not disown any of his children.”

The pope was answering three questions posed to him by Fr. James Martin, SJ, according to the National Catholic Reporter:

“‘God is Father and he does not disown any of his children,’ wrote Francis in a letter to Martin. ‘And “the style” of God is “closeness, mercy and tenderness.” Along this path you will find God.’

“The pope’s remarks came in response to the question ‘What would you say is the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God?’. . .

“When asked ‘What do you say to an LGBT Catholic who has experienced rejection from the church?’ the pope replied that “I would have them recognize it not as ‘the rejection of the church,’ but instead of ‘people in the church.’ “

“‘The church is a mother and calls together all her children,’ he continued. ‘Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: “the just, the sinners, the rich and the poor, etc.” [Matthew 22:1-15; Luke 14:15-24]. A “selective” church, one of “pure blood,” is not Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.'”

Asked what Francis would like LGBTQ people to know about the church, the pope recommended reading Acts of the Apostles because “there they will find the image of the living church.”

The letter from Martin to the pope comes after the launch of a new Jesuit-sponsored website for LGBTQ Catholic ministry known as Outreach. A report from America explained the purpose of the site:

“The site, which operates under the auspices of America Media, will include news and essays as well as helpful resources like videos, books and links to welcoming organizations. The website will also feature the Gaudete series, which will profile parishes across the United States that are welcoming to L.G.B.T. Catholics.”

The new Outreach initiative follows two virtual conferences held in 2020 and 2021 by the same name. This coming June, an in-person Outreach conference will be held at Fordham University and will feature a number of LGBTQ Catholics and allies. To learn more about the econference, click here.

In an interview with The Advocate, Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said, in part:

“It is encouraging that he sent warm greetings. . . . I wish I had the opportunity to ask Pope Francis a couple of follow up questions about his letter. I’d ask whether by saying God does not disown people he means a full embrace with no conditions. Does he see God blessing the loving marriages and families created by same-sex spouses? Does he believe God delights in seeing transgender and nonbinary people growing into the selves they were created to be? And finally, I would ask him how he would answer LGBTQ+ people who hear church teachings labelling us as ‘objectively disordered,’ our relationships as ‘intrinsically evil,’ and living our true genders as threatening families and the social order as rejection.”

Pope Francis’ letter writing has become quite a phenomenon: in the past he has sent letters not only to Fr. Martin, but to New Ways Ministry, Sister Monica Astorga, the LGBTQ Catholic group in Florence, Italy,  journalist Michael O’Loughlin, and many others. In December he sent a warm congratulatory note to Sister Jeannine Gramick, New Ways’ co-founder, on the occasion of her 50th anniversary of LGBTQ ministry.  Sr. Jeannine had been censured by previous popes for her work, so it is significant that the current pope should have sent her such a positive message.  Through his handwritten missives, Pope Francis is adhering to the style of “closeness, mercy and tenderness” towards LGBTQ people that he so often exhorts pastors to practice.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, commented on the pope’s letter:

“Pope Francis’ comments to Fr. Martin are further evidence that this pontiff very much wants LGBTQ people to feel welcome in the church.  These comments are just the latest in a long line of positive statements the pope has made to church ministers who are reaching out in welcome to LGBTQ people.  Pope Francis has been writing messages to LGBTQ people and their supporters since the beginning of his papacy in 2013.  While, at first we thought, his messages might be just “one-offs,” the high number of such affirming messages shows a distinct pattern of affirmation.

“Pope Francis hasn’t made any doctrinal changes regarding LGBTQ people, but through these messages, he is preparing the church for future changes.”

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, May 11, 2022

8 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Very nice of Francis to write this. Nicer would be having it read at all Catholic Churches by Papal order. Of course, there would be an open revolt by some American bishops who would miss the point of acting in a Christ like manner.

    Reply
    • Hank
      Hank says:

      Yes why can’t he simply have it read by decree. Otherwise sadly what does one do when rejected by local church. Show up with letter? Would they care?

      Reply
  2. Richard Rosendall
    Richard Rosendall says:

    So God does not disown any of his children, but some of his bishops do.

    I appreciate His Holiness, but what is the point of these compassionate statements when so many bishops are so horrible and the Church’s teaching on us is so harsh?

    Reply
  3. John connors
    John connors says:

    thank you for setting such an example of closeness, tenderness, mercy ,in all of your kind outreach and work

    Reply
  4. Hayden Smith
    Hayden Smith says:

    As a gay person and also one who is Loved ‘just as I am’ I have been allowed to experience an ‘Apparition,’ been allowed to experience’ God’s Love’ and have been given the ‘Gift of Healing.’ For me, it’s time to come out of the condemnation of the Church in so many people’s lives and instead tell everyone what the Church already knows but have gotten into such a state that they are frightened to proclaim it. This is that ‘All are loved by God,’ just as they are. Now let us all settle into the Love and Peace of Christ.

    God Bless

    Hayden

    Reply
  5. Bob Hare
    Bob Hare says:

    I think Pope Francis’ note to Fr. Martin is definitely reflective of the direction the pope wants to move this worldwide body. It’s part of the synodal path, the focus on evangelization rather than doctrinal correctness. It comes down to how you approach the other person; We can help you because we have all the answers or What do you need?

    Reply
  6. Fr. Joseph Spina
    Fr. Joseph Spina says:

    Indeed, in Francis – a man of the people, there is finally someone who is there for all.
    Truly living up to his chosen name, as Father Francis who called all as he walked in the
    footsteps of our brother Jesus.
    Let us continue to pray with and for each other. Love and peace.

    Reply
  7. Bob Nee
    Bob Nee says:

    All the more reason to participate in the Synod process. Francis needs support. The “people in the Church” who teach and act on perverse theology need to hear the Spirit in our voices.

    Reply

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