Nearly 10,000 sign petition to remove pro-gay priest from top Catholic Church event

Almost 10,000 people have called for the removal of pro-LGBT+ priest James Martin from addressing a top Catholic Church event – the World Meeting of Families – in Dublin, Ireland, this month.

American Jesuit priest Martin, who recently spoke to PinkNews about being an advocate for LGBT+ inclusion in the Church, will speak at the Roman Catholic gathering, which is dedicated to reflecting on the importance of marriage and family life.

However, the Irish strand of Tradition Family Property (TFP) has released an open letter addressed to Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin, signed by 9,733 people at the time of publication, demanding that the priest is 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.”

TFP is known for its conservative, traditionalist views, opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.

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 World Meeting of Families, which takes place every three years, will be held between 21 and 26 August.

Pope Francis is expected to attend the last two days of the meeting.

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)

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.”

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 and James Martin for comment.

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

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.”

The priest has said that the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre signalled a turning point for him, with him going on to publish the book Building a Bridge – a call for respect between the LGBT+ community and the Catholic Church – the following year, 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.”