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Catholic institutions block lectures by priest because he supports gay equality

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A number of Catholic organisations stand accused of censoring a priest who has called for the church to reach out to LGBT people.

Rev. Martin, a highly-respected Jesuit priest, is the author of recently-published book Building a Bridge, which sets out a framework for the Catholic Church to begin to engage with the LGBT community with “respect, compassion and sensitivity”.

In the book, the priest draws on the Christian ideals of “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” as a model for how the Catholic Church should relate to the LGBT community, igniting anger from the anti-LGBT lobby which is dominant within the church.

In the wake of the book’s publication, hardline opponents of LGBT equality within the Church began a campaign targeting Rev. Martin – successfully convincing a string of global Catholic organisations to cancel planned events where he had been due to speak about unrelated subjects.

The Theological College in Washington DC, where the priest was due to give a lecture about the Bible, abruptly cancelled the event last week, after conservatives raised issues with Rev. Martin’s beliefs on LGBT issues.

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Catholic institutions block lectures by priest because he supports gay equality

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre in New York also cancelled a lecture by Rev. Martin, confirming that his invite “was in fact rescinded”.

Rev. Martin had also been set to travel to London to deliver the 2017 lecture for Cafod, the overseas aid agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

After the backlash the event was shelved entirely, with Martin confirming that “cancellation of the 2017 Cafod lecture, scheduled for October, was out of fears of the backlash to my book”.

In a statement to PinkNews Cafod claimed that the 2017 lecture was actually just ‘postponed’ until next year for scheduling reasons and that an invitation “still stands” for Rev. Martin to speak in future.

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This is somewhat incongruous given Cafod supplied a completely different statement to the Catholic Herald that confirmed it had been “considering” the future of the event due to “strength of feeling [Martin’s book] generated in some quarters”.

In a statement, Rev. Martin said: “I want to say that I bear no ill will whatsoever to Cafod, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre or Theological College. All of them are fine Catholic institutions that serve, in their different ways, the People of God.”

He added: “One of the many sad ironies of this episode has been that in each case the local ordinary was perfectly fine with my speaking – in London, New York and DC.

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