In a third supportive letter to LGBT advocate Father James Martin, woke Pope Francis promised prayers for the success of a Pride conference to be held in New York this month.
“I send my best regards to the members of the meeting at Fordham University,” the pontiff wrote regarding an Outreach LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Conference to be held from June 16 to 18. “You and all who are working at the Outreach Conference are in my prayers and good wishes.”
As he has done on other occasions, the pope praised Father Martin for “all the good you are doing.”
In a previous letter, Pope Francis thanked Father Martin for his “pastoral zeal” while commending him for imitating the “style of God.” The Pope also met personally with Father Martin in two separate private audiences at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, “where the two discussed ministry to LGBTQ Catholics,” Father Martin noted.
Last year, Father Martin declared that churches have a special duty to celebrate Gay Pride since much anti-gay violence has been “motivated by religion.”
Participating in Pride events during June is one way to live out the Catholic Catechism’s call to treat homosexuals with respect, he proposed. Catholics should celebrate Pride Month, he said, because Gay Pride is “a celebration of the human dignity of a group of people who have been for so long treated like dirt.”
“It’s especially important for churches to celebrate Pride, since a great deal of the rejection and even violence that the LGBTQ community has faced has been motivated by religion, or at least what people think religion teaches,” the Jesuit stated.
“In June, Catholics celebrate the Month of the Sacred Heart,” Father Martin said last week. “LGBTQ people celebrate Pride Month. LGBTQ Catholics celebrate both. One shows us how Jesus loves. The other shows us whom Jesus calls us to love today.”
But Father Martin has come under fire from other Catholic prelates for affirming people in their immoral sexual behavior. In 2018, for example, Archbishop Charles Chaput called Father Martin out, saying “There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are, as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the body of Jesus Christ.”