Inés San Martín Cruxnow

ROME – On Monday, Pope Francis met with Jesuit Father James Martin, an American priest who has dedicated most of the past three years to ministering to LGBT Catholics, whom he describes as the “most marginalized group” in the Catholic Church.

Francis and Martin spoke for half an hour, in between two other meetings the pope had that day: The conference of bishops from the Pacific, currently in Rome for their regular ad limina pilgrimage to the Holy See, and a delegation of missionary institutes founded in Italy.

Speaking with Crux, Martin said that the pontiff was an “incredibly attentive listener” who, based on the questions he asked his fellow Jesuit, “clearly cares for”

One of the highlights of my life. I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by the Holy Father today. And his time with me, in the middle of a busy day and a busy life, seems a clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.

Martin is the author of the 2017 book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.

According to New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group for LGBT Catholics, the meeting “refutes the unjustified barrage of criticism [Martin] has received from a minority of church leaders and other anti-LGBTQ sectors of the church.”

“It is a clear signal that Pope Francis is calling the church to conversion away from the negative messages it has sent in the past about LGBTQ people,” the group said in a statement released on Monday. “It is a day of celebration for LGBTQ Catholics who have longed for an outstretched hand of welcome from the church that they love.”

Martin’s book Building a Bridge is based on a talk he gave in 2016, when he received an award from New Ways Ministry.

The Jesuit has been in Rome isince Sept. 21 to participate in a meeting of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication and will remain in the city until Oct. 6.

Martin spoke with Crux about the meeting, the reaction it received among some Catholics who find his work to be controversial, and what he would say to LGBT Catholics who think Pope Francis has been too strong in condemning gender theory.

What follows are excerpts of that conversation.

It’s been five hours. Can you believe it happened?

No. It’s almost a miracle for me. But more importantly, I think that it will be seen as a real sign for his pastoral care and concern for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.

What would you say to those who think that Pope Francis, when he talks about LGBT people, is being discriminatory or is too strong in his condemnation of gender theory, calling it “an abomination”?

I would say to them to look at this person as a pastor who’s trying to reach out to people in their experiences as marginalized people. And who’s trying to move the Church ahead in its pastoral care for people. So I would say to take all of what he does together.

He could not have been more attentive, welcoming and warm. And the topic of our meeting was pastoral outreach of LGBT people.

How did you prepare for the meeting?
The preparations were really the last two or three years of ministry. What I brought to him were the experiences of LGBT Catholics whom I’ve met, their joys and hopes, their struggles and challenges, their experiences as a way of giving them a voice with the pope.

He was an incredibly attentive listener, and from the questions he asked, you could tell that he cares for these people. To me, it felt like a very easy conversation, like you might have with your favorite pastor. I never had such an extensive conversation with any pope before, yet he put me at ease and I felt completely comfortable.

At the beginning, I gave him a note from my nephew who’s taking the name Francis for confirmation and he immediately grabbed a pen and wrote back to him.

Are you going to share the content of that note?

Yeah, that I might post. It was basically a note saying thank you and pray for me. It was a very simple note, but my nephew is over the moon.

I would say that what struck me today was that before me, there was an entire bishops’ conference, and after me was a dicastery. So to give this topic 30 minutes of his schedule in the middle of an incredibly busy day and right before a synod is a sign of his commitment to LGBT people.

You mentioned that the pope is a man trying to move the Church forward when it comes to ministry of LGBT people. Assuming he had asked you about it, what would you have said to him?

I would make it clear that this is not what I said to him. But for me, it’s a church that welcomes LGBT Catholics as much as it welcomes every other Catholic. A place where they don’t feel like they’re lepers in the Church, where they don’t have to wonder how they’re going to be treated when they come in, and a place where they are welcomed, because they are baptized Catholics and it’s their church, too.

How can we make that happen when the Church sees some behaviors as sinful?
Here’s the thing. If the Church was only open to people whose life reflected the Gospels and the Catechism, there would be very few people in the pews. As Francis says, the Eucharist is a medicine for the sick, not an award.
Unlike any other group of pe

ople, they are excluded, targeted and marginalized in a way that no other group feels. The other group that feels marginalized is women, but at the Vatican there are Women’s Days, people talk about putting more women in leadership roles, but you rarely hear that invitation from bishops in terms of LGBT people because they’re seen as always and everywhere sinful.

I don’t think there’s anyone who feels as marginalized in the Church as the LGBT Catholic. A couple of months ago I heard a story from a lesbian woman whose pastor actually said to her, “your kind is not welcome here.”

I would hope that LGBT Catholics see this meeting as a sign of Pope Francis’s love and concern for them.

A lot of people – after it came out that you met with the pope – called you controversial …

No, I don’t think so. Unless preaching the Gospel is controversial.

Why do people think you are?

Out of fear of the LGBT person as the other, for what it might mean for the Church to change it’s pastoral approach, and sometimes out of fear of their own complicated sexuality.

But seeing that I’m not advocating for any sort of change in church teaching but for a spirit of welcome, inclusion and love, I don’t know why that should be controversial.

What do you say to those who say the pope shouldn’t have met with you?
I would say “talk to the pope.”
How did the meeting come to be?
Some mutual friends had alerted him that I would be in town, and when I saw him during the audience for the dicastery of communications, he said to me, “I want to have an audience with you.” And the next day a formal invitation arrived at the Jesuit Curia.

And you cleared your calendar?
I did … It wasn’t RSVP! The contrast between the formal setting and the warm conversation was striking.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma


It’s quite interesting that Pope Francis granted LGBT right supporter Father James Martin SJ a private audience.

Pope Francis has been making very supportive comments about gay people since he became pope – must to the angst of the Roman Curia – which is full of actively gay priests and bishops.

The gay issue is dividing the RCC.

Most RCC priests and bishops are gay.

And yet most gay priests and bishops are vocally anti gay!

Is this not absolute hypocrisy.

They want gay laity to remain celibate.

But they themselves pursue and get all the gay sex they want.

Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy!


Aye! And that other gay hypocrite, Michael Voris, has gone ballistic about the meeting.

Anything that upsets Voris, warms me cockles.


How much do you think Church Militant under the control of Michael Voris and fellow devotees will be foaming at the mouth about this – they hate Father James Martin with all their heart and soul (assuming they have them).
Church Militant is truly obsessed with gay people and gay sex especially. Just look at their YouTube channel and website, it is nonstop stories about homosexuality.
Could this be down to the repressed “former gay” man who runs it, Mr Voris himself. A bit of the traditional catholic self loathing and guilt?


Voris attacks Fr Martin relentlessly, referring to him as ‘evil Jimmy’. He described that meeting of his with the Pope as ‘truly disgusting’.
Voris seems incapable of drawing anything good from LGBT relationships, and those who do, like Fr Martin, are inevitably seen as enemies of the Church.
I suspect that Voris’ extremism here is a hurried and heated attempt to appease God for his moral past; but what he seems not to know is that the Almighty is not amused when this is done at the expense of his most marginalised children, LGBT people.


Pat, your “Pat says” mantra is in total contrast to the clarity of thought, calmness, measured gentleness, non-condemnation and Christ like disposition of Fr. Martin. Here is a human being who understands the power of listening carefully, the power of gentle sharing, the power of loving, respectful dialogue. What an incredible encounter for Fr. Martin on behalf of the LBGTQ community. Shouting and screaming judgment and verbal diahhorea at people who hold different views (which is your form) is always counter productive. I believe – and I pray and hope that this great encounter between a compassionate human being, Fr. Martin and Pope Francis will yield good fruits of kindness, welcome and a loving embrace of all who are marginalised, particularly the LBGTQ. Pat, all too often your shouting hypocrisy at others and unkind judgments are completely the wrong response. In this instance, Fr. Martin could teach you many lessons, indeed could teach all of us lessons in gently dialoguing for worthy ideals.


Anon@12:38: You make a valuable point about the value of constructive and positive criticism: one I hope some contributors to this blog will bear in mind.
Just as in face to face arguments, much of the verbals are ignored when conveyed with incandescent fury. So too, intemperate written ‘language/words’ are simply ignored. The message, however valid, is simply lost and ignored.


Anon@12:29: You obviously “knew” from my previous comments that I am a supporter of equality, a non judgemental approach and fairness. I do appreciate your “understanding” and thank you.


I am rather miffed on why recently expelled Sisters Of Adoration aka Purdy and Kelly are Tweeting thanks from their individual accounts but in togetherness?
I wish someone or the women themselves would just tell the truth of why their vocational calling was abruptly terminated after 5 years.
You don’t run 5 years and not be professed regardless how small the community or order is and in times were genuine vocations are struggling, note the words here genuine vocations, there for the right reasons and free of all motive or fears.
What has forced the hands of the Adoration Superiority?
The truth and facts about both women?
Had someone threatened to pull the plug on them both and were their decisions made reluctantly but evidently and then buttered up in the press release?
It’s an awful waste of 5 years on both counts of respective careers, one the respected journalist and one likewise in law, they’ve left that convent with zero, they can’t move to any other order either?
Why again is the question?
But it seems from day one they were in a togetherness that was there at entry and left in same.
The Sisters Of Adoration issued a statement which was flowery language for non conformity.
So why did it take 5 years? Why has none of both women or order said ok, this is the truth – we or they, left, expelled, because……….
What shall we do? We’ll tweet each other’s thanks and change the wording to suit our name.
I think it’s time the ladies quit the BS and revealed the truthfulness of this bizarre 5 year scenario.
If you should read this Martina and Elaine, quit the dancing about the facts, let’s tell the truth and release yourselves from this seeming burden which can’t be released.


Are you saying about these ladies what I think you’re saying?
Can I quote what you’re not saying? It’ll titillate (sorry, inform) our readers.


It think he’s saying they are Lebanese. Mind you, Timmy’s niece married a Nigerian from Poland and we didn’t mind.


12.41: Your comment is ignorant and mal8cious. What business is it of yours to engage in this twisted nuance and speculation? You ought to be ashamed for the implicit assumption you are making. Shame on you. The issues you raise have absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter for today’s blig. What are your thoughts on the issues raised by Fr. Martin and Pope Francis? Are you a homophobe? Shame on you.


8.51. I’m sitting on the big chair here this morning with a wee pre lunchtime snifter of the Bush at hand getting ready to batten down the hatches in preparation for Lorenzo coming later. But I must ask 8.51 what is wrong with the Purdy/Kelly business being raised. They both were not behind the door courting media attention when they entered the convent nor since. Furthermore anybody with half a brain must be wondering about the circumstances concerning their departure or coming out from the order- no pun intended!
In fact when I read the statements from all concerned my mind immediately though of an expression an old farmer from Cushendun used to say in these sort of circumstances ‘I smell shite!”


Four sisters left the Belfast convent. The order has no simple vowed in its two other convents so the numbers were unsustainable.


Asi said before on here,these 2 ladies should be our first women priests in Ireland.
They were lost in that convent.


Mr Dick (@ 11.36),
You imbibe spirits so early in the day? Is this habitual?
You should know that the adverse effects of alcohol on the liver, and other organs, is medically well documented, and those who drink so early in the day are statistically at greater risk of injury and death.
Have you a funeral plan in place? If not, I strongly advise you to obtain one as soon as possible.
My firm of Funeral Directors is long-established and family friendly. Our fees are highly competitive, and our services are de luxe.
Post me your e-mail address and I’ll send you further details.
Yours creepily,
Murgatroyd DeATH


Dear Mr DeAth,
Thank you for your kind concern for my wellbeing and your advice about the abuse of alcohol. Ever since retirement I have a wee half before lunch each day and a couple after dinner in the evening. Seems to be doing me the power of good as I am still very physically active ( walk at least an hour each day) and mentally alert. In fact for a man nearer 80 than 70 I class myself , as they would say in these parts, as a boy in quare shape.
As for your offer of a funeral plan perhaps you could send me details by return. Cremation preferred and no flowers. Ashes scattering at Portrush Strand.


Concerning Wonersh Seminary another interesting point would be through the years what was its ‘ relationship with what was at one time Saint Mary’s Derryswwod -Rosminian House next door ? – That had in it the likes of Father Barry Farmer Father Tony Hampson , Father Bernard Collins , Father Bill Jackson . Interesting to note the Novitiate was also in that house ! 


Should we infer there is something not quite straightforward about these Reverend Fathers? ( I’ve never heard of them before )


Wonersh again!!!!
Digging around it came to light that Hanry Balkwill is a parishioner of St Alphage in Bath. Fr Michael Fontaine was the pp there and until recently a staff member at Wonersh. Now both have left. Coincidence?
I hope the police will be able to go through the place from top to bottom and disrupt any criminal ring operating in the place where safeguarding was unable to.
My advice to seminarians would be to go directly to the police with your concerns as you cannot rely on the clergy or safeguarding to protect you.
As a matter of interest would it be possible for a man on the sex offender in one country to enter seminary in another. Say a UK man to go to Maynooth or vice versa? I hope the police will go through the place, top to bottom, and check out the backgrounds of everyone. If known or unknown sex offenders have got into the place, how did this happen and who facilitated them?
Drain the Swamp!!!


How is he a soyboy? He’s not effeminate in any way.
Why do you hate him?
Are you Michael Voris?


Holding opinions like he does can only be attributed to an overconsumption of soy. No, Voris is also a soyboy.


On LGBT issues, Pope Francis is not so much a man of contrasts as perplexing contradictions; lgbt people really don’t know where they stand with him. And how could they? How does one square ‘God made you this way’ (Pope Francis’ shocking statement to Juan Carlos Cruz) with his subsequent endorsing Benedict’s ban on admitting gay men to seminary?
I hope Fr Martin used his thirty-minute meeting with the pope constructively. And how better to do this than pointing out to Francis these contradictions of his and the confusion and hurt they cause LGBT folk.


Irrelevant question.
Fr Martin has repeatedly been asked this, too. Like me, he refuses to answer, not because he is coy about his sexuality, but because the question has no bearing whatever on his pro-LGBT statements.
Besides, Fr Martin is well aware that the question is not asked from innocent curiosity, but from malice, the hope being to weaponise against him an affirmative response (were he able to make one, of course ).
If Fr Martin could answer ‘yes’ to the question, his enemies, men like the odiously smug Michael Voris, would publicly manoeuvre this information centre-stage and force into the wings the good and positive things Fr Martin has said about the LGBT demographic.
And he’s too smart to allow intellectual small beer, like Voris, to have their inglorious day.
Me, too.


But on the other hand, Magna knows that mummy’s love is deeply conditional. Don’t you, darling?


In the past, “Magna Carta” has furiously protested its being non “gay” and loudly declared its robust, red blooded heterosexuality.

When it was in Maynooth, in its “blond, blue-eyed and slim” incarnation, it had to fight off all sorts of ‘Roman hands and Russian fingers’, desperate to get in the sack with it.

So as regards the sexuality of “Magna Carta” – “What gay dear?Me dear? Gay dear? No dear!!!”


I have commented here before (but got screamed at, presumably by some priest who was c/o the Bishop) that it is very unusual for a diocesan priest to be in another diocese without some good reason, such as sick family nearby, studies, etc. In the past this was one of the ways abuser priests would be shuffled away from trouble.
In the scenario mentioned above, that a man who is on the sex offenders register in one country goes to another country to train as a priest, the searches should obviously be done in his home country and if he hasn’t been honest he should be rejected.
However before he gets to that stage he is going to be asked why he isn’t in his own country. There are good reasons for this, now that the days are long gone when people remained in one place for life. It wouldn’t be unusual to move in search of work, for example, and just end up not going home. But a man who is applying to a diocese well outside an area where he is at home, for no apparent reason, would attract some searching questions.


maybe, perhaps. I knew a lad from a western Diocese who moved to the UK and applied there. They did check with the western diocese to see if he had applied at home, and he hadn’t. incidentally, in the UK they have a national system designed to verify if a man has/had applied to another diocese. Hope your not in the patch of Lorenzo. I’m having a nice glass of chardonnay white


3.16: Lorenzo us taking shelter in Larne till midnight when the bishop will unleash its’ power of destruction across the clerical world…..


Pat the commenter earlier is on the money. Check the trail back to Ireland and Maynooth. What of the religious order in Ireland he was with? Why is all his Facebook gone? Did you he have images? Safeguarding is quite poor in wonersh and in Clifton it seems


Talking of the Rosminian house at Wonersh, how about doing a blog on Fr Kit Cunningham, chaplain to Fleet St and abuser when he was on the mission in Tanzania. He returned his MBE when the truth emerged. The Rosminians of course fought victims’ claims, until finally paying out £1.7m.

Old Kit had a girlfriend for 30 years called Jenny Floyd.


What are Fr Martin’s views on the age of consent? Bet he would support lowering it so that young gay men would be free to bond with older men in the style of the Greeks how noble! How suitable !


You are seriously (and deliberately?) misrepresenting Fr Martin’s position here. He throughly upholds magisterial teaching on homosexual acts: that they are gravely wrong.
He holds no such views on the age of consent.


And what’s that, 8:31?

The age of consent in the UK, for both straight AND gay people, is sixteen. Are you suggesting that Peter Tatchell wants it lowered, so that adult men can have sex with boys younger than sixteen? If you are, you could be sued for libel, since Tatchell is on record as disapproving of such behaviour. He does support lowering the age of consent to fourteen… solely because people younger than sixteen are sexually active these WITH OTHERS THEIR OWN AGE. Tatchell does not want them to be treated as criminals and given a criminal record when their sexual acts are consensual.


Good man popie but how can a church come to terms with lgbt when they can’t handle celibacy. If a married priest converts to RC he keeps the family. The whole thing is a holy joke hi


8.33: MMM, pics of who? Are you in fantasy mode again…? Catching up in your teenage desires? Let us know.


Hi Josie.
By replying to and through you may I say that from now I will no longer reply or make any comment to or about the infantile troll who has, for a few days now, posted using my MMM initials. Those of you familiar with my commentary style will have readily recognised the trolls efforts as distinct from mine.


Bp Pat, words like hypocrite and hypocrisy seem so inadequate to describe these vile, evil, dirty old closet queens. Also, Voris is just an excuse for a human being.


9.44: MMM: I guessed someone was posting under your name. I don’t always agree with your opinions but I respect your views because you express them respectfully, coherently and intelligently, without resorting to any denigration of anyone or vulgar, nasty commentary. I’m glad you clarified this and I believe Pat should know by now how to truly identify your commentary from silly, inane troublemakers. Occasionally you allow yourself a swipe at religious beliefs and their adherents but in a non offensive manner. I’m certain and sure in my religious convictions not to ever feel intimidated or offended, not by you.


Thank you Josie. I appreciate your comments. About a couple of years ago some troll began posting under my name. +Pat advised me of a simple code method of correctly identifying my own comment and then blocked the troll’s attempts to impersonate me. If this troll, possibly the same one, continues, it will be easy for +Pat to resume his previous blocking tactic.
+Pat: I have retained the format you advised and if it becomes necessary will resume using that.


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