Changes within the relationship between the LGBT Community and the Catholic Church

Photo courtesy of | Staff Writer Alex Hale discusses Building a Bridge by Jesuit author Father James Martin and how he is attempting to encourage agreement between the LGBTQ+ community and the Christian community.

Last spring, I wrote an article about the relationship between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church. In the time since that article was published, a lot has happened with regard to that issue. Most notably, Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit out of New York, wrote a book called Building A Bridge, which called for both the leadership of the church to extend love towards the LGBT community and for the LGBT community to be respectful and loving to the Church hierarchy.

He says that the “teachers bans” across the country are direct discrimination against LGBT men and women since those bans are not enforced for divorced and remarried people. He also calls for the LGBT community to not call priests sexually repressed but rather to be respectful. For the sake of background, this book was approved by his superiors and does not contain a single thing that goes against Catholic teaching on the subject.

Despite all of this, there were many who viciously attacked Fr. Martin’s book and his character. Anyone is welcome to disagree with the book and make wholehearted critiques that are meant to find common ground; in fact, there has been great criticism from LGBT advocates and from those in the church hierarchy. All of that being said, I have personally met Fr. Martin, and he is one of those Jesuits who are the shining example of God’s love on earth. His motives are solely focused on making God’s kingdom come and he wrote this book after watching bishop after bishop remain silent after the Pulse nightclub shooting a couple of summers ago.

Many bishops said that the church should pray for those who died at Pulse, though all but a select few even mentioned that the attack was directed toward the gay community because they were gay. Yet, some have said that he is leading souls to sin and are calling for him to be removed as a priest. This is a terrible cancer in the Church. It shows that many are still unwilling to show love to the outcast and to those who have been persecuted. This reaction just to Fr. Martin alone is a clear enough sign of why so many LGBT men and women do not feel welcome in the Church.

A popular Catholic hymn is “All Are Welcome,” but these reactions show that in many places this message is not true. In general, our world seems to be filled with hatred right now. Hatred of Democrats and of Republicans. Hatred of immigrants, hatred of those who don’t think the way we do. Hatred seems to be the order of the day. Simply puts if you don’t think exactly what I do, then you are either intolerant or you are an entitled elite. The book Building a Bridge is meant to do just what the title says, build a place for community and love across this gap that seems impossible to cross. It may seem completely impossible and naive to want to find common ground but it can be worth it.

So with regard to my article from last year, is it potentially a naive call to find common ground on an issue that inspires so much hatred? Probably, but regardless of whether that is true or not, I maintain the idea that LGBT men and women are welcome and needed in the Church. There is a lot of work left to be done, and it won’t happen overnight, but I hope and pray that people will continue to take steps to love each other. It is important for gay people to know that they are still needed in the Catholic Church, and although there are a few loud voices out there that say otherwise, the only way people will begin to truly love is when they learn to know and love someone. Let’s continue to build a world where we can sing the hymn “All Are Welcome” and truly mean every word.

Alex Hale is a senior PPP major and staff writer for the Newswire from Detroit, Mich.