Pro-gay priest for ‘Vatican proposed’ LGBT family event criticises petition demanding his removal

Pro-LGBT+ priest James Martin has criticised a petition calling for him to be removed from speaking at an event on how the Catholic Church can welcome LGBT+ people and their families into parishes, which he says was proposed by the Vatican.

Nearly 10,000 people have called for the removal of pro-LGBT+ priest James Martin from addressing the presentation at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland, this month.

The petition, created by the Irish branch of ultra-conservative group Tradition Family Property (TFP), which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, had 9,792 signatures at the time of publication.

The World Meeting of Families, which takes place every three years, is a major event in the Roman Catholic calendar, and is attended by a number of senior figures from the Catholic Church. It focuses on the importance of marriage and family life.

Pope Francis is expected to attend the last two days of the World Meeting of Families, which will be held between 21 and 26 August in the Irish capital.

“I’m not bothered much by protests or petitions motivated by hatred and homophobia,” Martin told PinkNews, “Because the hatred and homophobia are rooted mainly in fear.

“Fear of the LGBT person as the ‘other.’ Fear of what might happen if we listen to the experience of LGBT Catholics. And, often, fear of one’s own complicated sexuality.”

Martin, an American Jesuit priest, published a book – Building a Bridge – in June 2017, which called for respect between the LGBT+ community and the Catholic Church.

He continued: “In the New Testament we read that perfect love drives out fear. Absolutely.

“But I would also add that perfect fear drives out love. That’s what we’re seeing here – because nothing in my book goes against any church teaching. But what kind of person would I be if I let fear dissuade me from loving? So I’m looking forward to my talk at the World Meeting of Families, and I’m grateful for the Vatican for inviting me.”

He added that the Vatican put forward the idea of the event, which he said marked a significant step in terms of the Catholic Church accepting LGBT+ people.

Martin told PinkNews: “It was the Vatican who proposed what I think is a great topic: ‘Showing Welcome and Respect in our Parishes for LGBT People and their Families.’

“By proposing that topic, they’re telling LGBT Catholics something important: this is your church too.”

Martin, who recently spoke to PinkNews about being an advocate for LGBT+ inclusion in the Church, will lead the presentation.

People receive communion during a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2015. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

On the World Meeting of Families’ website, Martin’s talk is described as a “presentation on how to welcome and respect LGBTQI+ and their families in our parishes.”

The TFP’s open letter addressed to Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin petitions for the priest to be uninvited from the gathering.

“The hosting by your Archdiocese of the World Meeting of Families should be a joyful occasion for Ireland. The choice of Dublin as venue by Pope Francis should serve as a consolation for Ireland at a difficult time and is of course the effective reason for the Pope’s pastoral visit,” the letter reads.

“We are disappointed and greatly concerned that Fr James Martin, S.J. will speak at the event, casting a shadow over its proceedings. Fr Martin is well known for his dissent from Church teaching on sexual morality. He has articulated views which condone homosexual behaviour in contradiction of the Magisterium.”

The letter continues: “Fr. Martin is also in disagreement with the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s reference to homosexual inclination as ‘gravely disordered.’ In this way he would prevent those with same sex inclination from arriving at a true understanding of their condition in the light of church teaching and God’s mercy. This is a great disservice to those whom he purports to help.

“We believe that sowing error and confusion should have no place at the World Meeting of Families. For this reason, we strongly request you to disinvite Fr. James Martin from speaking at so important an event.”


The TFP’s letter also condemns Martin for supporting pro-LGBT Catholic group New Ways Ministry.

The priest has spoken at a New Ways Ministry’s event, and has received an award from the group for his work.

The letter adds: “Fr. Martin makes no distinction between people who struggle courageously with same sex attraction (who cannot therefore be considered “LGBT”) and those who have yielded to an immoral and unnatural lifestyle condemned by the same Apostle whom he quotes above.”

People attend a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2015. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A spokesperson for the World Meeting of Families told PinkNews that Martin is still set to speak at the event.

“With just over one week to go to the WMOF2018 pastoral congress in the RDS in Dublin, we are not expecting there to be any change to the line-up of speakers that have been invited to be part of the event,” the spokesperson said.

“We are looking forward to welcoming all 292 speakers from around Ireland and from across the world to our gathering of families in Dublin.”

PinkNews has contacted TFP for comment.

Speaking to PinkNews in a recent interview, Martin said: “The main reason that I’ve become involved in LGBT issues is because LGBT people are part of the church, and so they deserve to be cared for.

“They are also the most marginalised group in the Catholic Church and for that reason they deserve special care and attention.”

He said that the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre signalled a turning point for him, and that he wrote his book out of frustration with the response the church offered to the one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

“What alarmed me at the time was that very few Catholic bishops publicly expressed any compassion after the shootings – in contrast to what happens in almost every other public tragedy,” Martin told PinkNews.

“The lack of solidarity seemed to reveal that even in death LGBT people are largely invisible in the church.”