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Pope Francis meets with Fr. James Martin at Vatican

Fr James Martin SJ (Wikimedia)

'I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by the Holy Father today,' Fr Martin tweeted

Pope Francis met Fr James Martin, SJ, in a private audience in the apostolic palace inside the Vatican.

Martin said on Twitter on September 30 that his meeting with Pope Francis lasted 30 minutes, and that he shared with him “the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.”

Martin added that he “was so grateful to meet with this wonderful pastor.” The audience was private except for the presence of a papal interpreter.

In another tweet, Martin said the meeting was one of the highlights of his 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.”

The Vatican does not customarily comment on papal meetings with individual priests or bishops.

Martin has been in Rome since September 21. He attended the plenary assembly of the Dicastery for Communication on September 23-25. He was named a consultor of the dicastery in 2017.

Martin also attended the Vatican conference on “the Common Good in the Digital Age.”

The priest said via Twitter he will be in Rome until October 6 for meetings and to attend the consistory to create 13 new cardinals on October 5.

Martin is the author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” and speaks frequently on issues pertaining to homosexuality and Catholicism.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia urged caution about Martin’s message after the priest spoke at a Philadelphia university.

“Father Martin has sought in a dedicated way to accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Many of his efforts have been laudable, and we need to join him in stressing the dignity of persons in such situations,” Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a September 19 column published on his archdiocesan website.

“At the same time, a pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing. Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims,” Chaput added.

Martin responded to Chaput’s column, thanking the archbishop for his careful tone and for encouraging people to not engage in “ad hominem” attacks.

The priest said that he is always careful to not challenge Church teaching on matters of sexual morality in his writings and talks, but argued that one reason he does not focus on “same-sex relations and same-sex marriage, which I know are both impermissible (and immoral) under church teaching, is that LGBT Catholics have heard this repeatedly. Indeed, often that is the only thing that they hear from their church.”

Chaput said in response that he appreciates Martin’s “typically gracious comments,” but he does not think they change the need for his column.