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Fr. James Martin Reflects on Meeting With Pope

Pope Francis greets Jesuit Father James Martin, author and editor at large of America magazine, during a private meeting at the Vatican Oct. 1, 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Father James Martin, S.J. — an editor at Jesuit-run America Magazine who is known for his outspoken support for LGBTQ Catholics — called a meeting he had with Pope Francis last month “wonderful.”

“I basically wanted to tell stories of LGBT Catholics to him, to be their voice in the Vatican. He was warm, welcoming and open,” Father Martin told The Tablet during an interview on Oct. 17.

“One of the highlights of my 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,” Father Martin tweeted after the Sept. 30 meeting.

Father Martin was appointed by Pope Francis as a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications in 2017. That same year he published his book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”

He was in Rome to visit the Vatican’s communication arm.

During The Tablet interview, Father Martin didn’t reveal the specifics of the meeting, but said it was “significant” they met in a public setting — the papal library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, where he often meets with heads of state.

“I think he really wanted people to know of his care and concern for these members of his flock,” Father Martin said.

Father Martin says a change in attitude is a result of a more welcoming church and society and said his meeting was a sign that “the pope hears them, and the pope listens to them.”

Reactions to both Father Martin’s book and his recent meeting with Pope Francis have been mixed within the Catholic community. While some bishops have endorsed the book, other Catholic conservatives disinvited Father Martin from speaking events, deeming him a “homosexualist” and “heretic,” and have even called for him to step down as a Vatican adviser.

Locally, the Diocese of Brooklyn has a chapter of Courage International, a church apostolate that acknowledges same-sex attraction and preaches that those persons should practice celibacy.

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