Pope Francis writes a note to a pilgrim at the Vatican on 6 July 2016.
(GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
Pope Francis has written a personal letter in support of Fr James Martin SJ’s ministry to LGBTQ+ Catholics, thanking the prominent and frequently controversial Jesuit for his work and encouraging him to continue his efforts.
“I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people,” Pope France wrote in the letter, “with the closeness that Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God.”
Hand-written in Spanish, the letter was a reply to one the pope had received from a young relative of Fr Martin ahead of the correspondent’s Confirmation and reminding him of an LGBTQ outreach conference that took place this weekend.
“Thinking about your pastoral work,” Pope Francis wrote to Fr. Martin, “I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God. You are a priest for all, just as God is a Father for all.”
“God’s ‘style’ has three elements: closeness, compassion and tenderness,” Pope Francis wrote. “This is how he comes closer to each one of us,” the Pope continued.
Fr Martin’s ministry to gay people has always been controversial, owing in part to its proximity to the so-called “culture wars” and incidence on debates in broad society, and in part to Fr Martin’s preference for compassionate and affirming public outreach in his work, and willingness to soft-pedal or skirt more difficult parts of the Church’s moral doctrine.
“I knew that it would be a somewhat controversial topic,” Fr Martin wrote in the Washington Post regarding his 2017 effort, Building a Bridge, “even though I was careful to stay well within the bounds of Church teaching.”
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund