The LGBT community has often felt ostracized by various religious groups, specifically the Catholic Church. In 2013, Pope Francis made headlines by saying he wouldn’t judge homosexuals, which started a new process of reconciling the Catholic Church with the LGBT community. Reverend James Martin, SJ, a Jesuit priest and author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, discusses how these two groups can treat each other with fairness and dignity.Martin points out that the church has always been opposed to same-sex relations because of homophobia. The Catholic Church and its members were often afraid of and made uncomfortable by gay people, and that was magnified by the church due to religious beliefs. As a result, many LGBT people have felt marginalized by the church. But, Martin says it is time to change this. He gives a few key pieces of advice to help include LGBT people into the Catholic Church. The most important thing, he says, is to listen to LGBT people and treat them like fellow human beings and fellow Catholics.Martin encourages Catholics who have a prejudice against LGBT people to ask themselves one question: would I treat a straight person this way? In the Catholic Church, LGBT people are often put under a microscope for the sin of sexual immorality, while divorced people, or people living together before marriage, or people who have committed other sins get a ‘free pass.’ This selective focus on LGBT people and their sin is unfair, Martin says. Furthermore, he says, it’s important to make it clear that homosexuality is not a sin, because it’s not chosen. Especially when considering all the persecution that the LGBT community faces, Martin encourages his fellow Catholics to remember that we are all sinful and should not judge. By treating each other with respect and understanding, the LGBT community and the Catholic Church can bridge the conflict that has separated them for so long.For more information about the Catholic Church and the LGBT community or to purchase of a copy of Martin’s book, see the links below.
- James Martin, SJ, Jesuit priest and author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity