An outspoken priest has said that he has received “oceans of hate and threats” for speaking out in support of the LGBT community.
Fr James Martin will be travelling to Ireland for the first time later this month to speak at the World Meeting of Families event in Dublin and earlier this week a petition calling for him to be disinvited from the event following his pro-LGBT comments gained almost 10,000 signatures.
The petition was started by the Irish branch of Tradition, Family, Property and claimed Fr Martin should not attend as he “supports transgenderism for children,” and “favours homosexuals kissing during the mass.”
The organisers of the WMOF have confirmed there will be no change to the current line-up and Fr Martin has said will be speaking on the subject of “welcoming LGBT Catholics to the event.”
Talking about the backlash he gets for his views, Fr Martin told Independent.ie that he has received “oceans of hate and threats,” had “a few talks cancelled,” but said that it does not bother him.
“What kind of Jesuit would I be if I let hatred stop me from loving?” he said.
“Besides that, homophobia represents a very small percentage of Catholics, and I have the support of my Jesuit superiors, several cardinals, archbishops and bishops, and, also, the majority of the faithful, many of whom have LGBT people in their families.”
Speaking about those who send him angry messages, he said: “These protesters are not only on the wrong side of history, they’re on the wrong side of the Gospel.”
Fr Martin continued to say that he is “not bothered by petitions like that.”
“I’ve seen them many times before,” he said. “My book, ‘Building a Bridge’, is well within church teaching, has the approval of my Jesuit superiors, as well as the endorsement of several cardinals, archbishops and bishops.
“But for some people, the idea of treating our LGBT brothers and sisters with the ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’ that the Catechism calls for is too much. Love is too much for them. Sadly, there is still a lot of homophobia and hatred in the church.”
Fr Martin thinks that even though the Church’s teaching on LGBT rights “may not have changed,” the Church’s tone certainly has.
“To begin with, Pope Francis’s famous comment ‘Who am I to judge?,’ first made about gay priests and then about gays and lesbians in general, was a dramatic shift in tone,” he said.
“Francis is the first Pope to use the word ‘gay’; he met publicly with a gay former student of his and the man’s partner; he has appointed more LGBT-friendly bishops and archbishops; and so on. And the Vatican has just begun to use the phrase ‘LGBT.’ So the tone and the approach are changing, and LGBT people are noticing it.”
Fr Martin said that his invitation to speak at Papal’s event is a “clear indication” of support to LGBT Catholics from the Vatican: “I’m very grateful to the Vatican for inviting me, and even more grateful that they are reaching out to LGBT people in this way.
“It’s a clear signal from the Vatican to Catholics worldwide that LGBT Catholics are as much a part of the church as the Pope, as their local bishop or their parish priest. LGBT people are part of our families and they’re part of our church.”
The cleric said that it is “very exciting” for him to visit Ireland, and spoke about his Irish roots.
He said: “It’s my first visit to Ireland. And for someone who is half Irish – my father’s family is from Screen in County Wexford – it’s very exciting.”