LGBT issues are life issues, priest tells WMOF

LGBT issues are life issues, priest tells WMOF Fr James Martin SJ speaking at the WMOF 2018
WMOF 2018

Catholic parishes urged to stand up for persecuted gay people, writes Greg Daly

In some countries, LGBT issues are ‘life issues’, the World Meeting of Families heard today, in an impassioned plea for parishes to welcome, integrate, and stand up for same-sex attracted and transgender Catholics. Addressing a packed hall, Fr James Martin SJ called for Catholic parishes to show LGBT Catholics and families with LGBT members that they stand with them.

“Advocate for them,” he said. “Be prophetic. My brothers and sisters, there are many times when the Catholic Church can provide a moral voice for a persecuted community, and I’m not talking about hot-button issues like same-sex marriage. I’m talking about instances we tend to overlook where gay men are rounded up and thrown in jail or even executed for being gay, and where lesbians – I heard this recently – are raped to ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientations. In some countries LGBT issues are life issues.”

The controversial Jesuit pointed out that even in countries where LGBT people are not threatened by the State, they can still suffer from hate crimes and bullying, and maintained that parishes have many opportunities to stand with LGBT people who are being persecuted and marginalised. Asking whether Catholics really believe the Catechism when it says every sign of unjust discrimination against people with same-sex attraction must be voided, he continued by quoting the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which wrote in 1986 that it is deplorable” that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent speech and action, with such treatment deserving condemnation from clerics whenever it occurs.

“Do we believe that statement from the CDF? This is part of what it means to be a Christian –standing up for the marginalised, the persecuted, and the beaten down,” he said, lamenting how it was “discouraging” how rarely the Church has done this for LGBT people.

Challenging Catholics to emulate Jesus, he said: “Because if we’re not trying to be like Jesus, what’s the point? And remember that in his ministry, Jesus continually reached out to people who felt like they were on the margins.”

Fr Martin’s comments came as part of a talk on welcoming LGBT people and their families into parishes, in which he mapped out key insights for understanding LGBT people and outlined 10 ways parishes and Catholics could work towards integration, starting with considering whether LGBT people and straight people are held to the same standards in the Church.

“With LGBT people we tend to focus on whether they are fully conforming to the Church’s teaching on the sexual morality. Are you doing the same thing with straight parishioners, and to the same degree with those who are living together before being married, or practicing birth control?

“Be consistent, my brothers and sisters, about whose lives get scrutinised,” he said.