Pope Francis has endorsed an American priest, Father James Martin, for his inclusive attitude towards gay Catholics. In a letter addressed to Martin, the Pope writes that he admires Martin’s “pastoral zeal” and “ability to be close to people,” reports The Tablet.
This letter was publicised by the priest who is a writer and the editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America. The Pope allows his letters to be made public by the recipients if they choose to do so. Fr Martin has had critics question his work with the LGBTQIA+ community with some US bishops stating anonymously that Pope Francis also denounced this inclusiveness.
According to The Tablet, the handwritten letter sent on June 26, 2021 is the first ever papal endorsement of ministry to LGBTQIA+ Catholics and clarifies the Pope’s thoughts about the matter. The letter was a reply to Fr Martin who had sent the Pope a letter about his nephew who had taken the name Francis at his confirmation.
Since his papacy, Pope Francis has aimed to address LGBTQIA+ issues with a gentler approach than his predecessors. “Thinking about your pastoral work, I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God,” Francis writes. “You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a father for all men and women.”
Father Martin posted to social media saying, “It is a beautiful message of encouragement for all who work with LGBT Catholics and for LGBT Catholics themselves.”