New documentary follows the Rev. James Martin ‘Building a Bridge’ to LGBTQ Catholics

‘I just hope that it helps LGBTQ Catholics see that there’s a place for them in their own church — it’s their church, too — and also for Catholic leaders to hear these voices,’ Martin said.

The Rev. James Martin at the Vatican in a scene from the documentary “Building A Bridge.”

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The Rev. James Martin never pictured himself managing a website aimed at helping resource LGBTQ Catholics.

He never saw himself starring in a documentary about the Roman Catholic Church’s relationship with its LGBTQ members.

He never set out to write or speak on issues related to LGBTQ people and the Catholic Church at all, he said.

And yet a film chronicling Martin’s ministry to LGBTQ Catholics — “Building a Bridge,” which was produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese and premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival — is streaming now on AMC+.

The documentary release comes as Martin launches an LGBTQ Catholic resource called Outreach, sponsored by America Media, where he is editor at large. Outreach includes a new website and a conference hosted in person for the first time this weekend at Fordham University in New York.

“I really feel like it’s been an invitation from the Holy Spirit to just continue to see where this goes,” Martin said.

The idea for the documentary about Martin’s ministry came to Brooklyn-based filmmaker Evan Mascagni not long after he moved to New York. Mascagni had grown up in a “really Catholic” community in Kentucky — so Catholic, he joked, he didn’t even realize there were other religions — but he had distanced himself from the church in college.

"Building A Bridge" film poster. Courtesy image
“Building A Bridge” film poster.

His mom kept sending him posts by “this cool priest she follows on Instagram,” who also was based in New York, he said.

When he finally attended a talk by the priest, who turned out to be Martin, Mascagni said he was “blown away.”

“I’d never felt energy like that in a Catholic church, honestly,” he said.

Mascagni also realized Martin’s story dovetailed with a story that co-director Shannon Post wanted to tell about a friend of hers who was among the 49 people killed when a gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Pulse was one of the city’s best-known gay clubs, and the 2016 shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history at the time.

The response to the shooting — or, rather, the lack of response — by the Catholic Church was one of the reasons Martin said he first felt “emboldened” to write and speak publicly about the church’s relationship with LGBTQ people, he said.

“I was a little disappointed with the church’s official response to the massacre. What struck me at the time was that even in death, this community is largely invisible to the Catholic Church,” he said.

“And so that led to a Facebook video, which led to some talks, which led to this book ‘Building a Bridge,’ which led to this ministry, which just keeps going in new directions.”

The filmmakers began following Martin not long after his book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity” was published in 2017.

A scene from the documentary "Building A Bridge." Photo courtesy Building A Bridge
A scene from the documentary “Building A Bridge.”

They filmed as some of the priest’s talks were canceled over fears of protest by conservative Catholic websites such as Church Militant, which also have organized social media campaigns against him. They kept rolling as he celebrated a Pre-Pride Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York and met at the Vatican with Pope Francis, who later wrote to Martin about the Outreach conference, previously held online.

“I pray for you to continue in this way, being close, compassionate and with great tenderness,” Francis wrote.

In that time, Martin said he’s become more confident — “primarily because I had that meeting with the pope.”

The priest’s message to the church has become “a little bolder,” he said.

“At the beginning, it was just like, ‘Treat these people with respect.’ Now it’s more, ‘Listen to them, accompany them, advocate for them,’ which is something I might not have said before.”

His message to the LGBTQ community has changed, too, as he’s been challenged by parish groups such as Out at St. Paul, featured in the “Building a Bridge” film. He’s realized the responsibility is on the church to reach out to the LGBTQ community, which has much less power, he said.

He sees the film as part of that work.

“I know that 1,000 times more people will see this movie than ever read my book or come to one of my talks. I understand the power of the media, and so, therefore, I wanted to support them as much as I could,” he said.

The Rev. James Martin in a scene from the documentary "Building A Bridge." Photo courtesy Building A Bridge
The Rev. James Martin in a scene from the documentary “Building A Bridge.”

Martin said he realized Mascagni and Post were serious about making a documentary about his ministry when they showed up in Dublin, where he was invited to speak to the World Meeting of Families organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

Being followed by cameras was “a threat to humility” as a priest, he said. But it came at the same time opponents were bombarding him with messages he was going to hell, so, he joked, “it balanced.”

It isn’t his first brush with fame. Martin has appeared on “The Colbert Report” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the unofficial chaplain of Colbert Nation. He also has worked with Scorsese on two previous films, appearing as a priest in “The Irishman” and offering insight as a consultant for “Silence.”

Scorsese ended up becoming executive producer of “Building a Bridge” after hearing the documentary was in the works and reaching out to Mascagni and Post.

“If Martin Scorsese is asking you to see a rough cut, you’re gonna work as hard and as fast as you can to get it done,” Mascagni said, laughing.

Alongside Martin, “Building a Bridge” shares the stories of LGBTQ Catholics, their families and their parish ministries as they intersect with the priest and with the church.

It also features Michael Voris, founder of Church Militant. Mascagni said he wanted to show the impact Voris and his followers have had as they’ve opposed Martin’s ministry.

Voris told Religion News Service he thought the documentary was a “fair representation” of himself and Church Militant.

People opposing the Rev. James Martin in the documentary "Building A Bridge." Photo courtesy Building A Bridge
People opposing the Rev. James Martin in the documentary “Building A Bridge.”

But, he said, “What sticks in my craw about it is that the church’s teaching doesn’t catch any real airtime.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to “homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered.” It also calls for LGBTQ people to be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

The latter is the message Martin emphasizes, and the one the priest said he hopes audiences will take from “Building a Bridge.”

“I just hope that it helps LGBTQ Catholics see that there’s a place for them in their own church — it’s their church, too — and also for Catholic leaders to hear these voices,” Martin said.

“This is where Jesus not only wants us to be, but is. I mean, they are a part of the body of Christ.”

Complete Article HERE!

Early Christianity a ‘feminist movement’?

— Catholic nun says it’s time for true ‘herstory’ to be told

By Ian M. Giatti

Was the feminism fight central to the first century church?

That’s the question a Catholic nun takes on in a piece for the Global Sisters Report, a self-described “independent, nonprofit source of news and information about Catholic sisters and the critical issues facing the people they serve.”

Asserting that the Bible “shows how the early church was a feminist movement” and that it’s time for the true “herstory” of female discipleship to be told, the piece celebrates the news that Pope Francis opened the door to expand senior roles for women in the Catholic Church, citing scriptural reasons behind such a move.

The nun who wrote the piece is Nameeta Renu, a member of the Order of Consecrated Virgins in Bombay in Mumbai, India. She compared the church to Mary and Martha, two women who were followers of Jesus.

Renu, whose bio states that she has a doctorate in theology on spiritual guidance and integral formation, writes that while Martha embodied the “relatively conservative” early church views on women’s roles, which pointed toward more “traditional roles,” Mary “represents the feminist church as envisioned by Jesus.”

In questioning these two archetypes, Renu then suggests both Martha and Mary “represent the church at different points on the wide spectrum of feminism” and cites “Martha from the Margins: The Authority of Martha in Early Christian Tradition,” a paper co-edited by agnostic atheist Bart Ehrman.

After asserting that God “wants both men and women to be liberated from patriarchy,” Renu says this can only happen “when victims are freed from domination, and when oppressors are converted and liberated from sin.”

She goes on to call Mary Magdalene the “Apostle to the Apostles,” and suggests that such a claim to apostleship holds as much weight as the Apostle Paul.

“Mary Magdalene has a very important role in following Jesus, but she is excluded from the Twelve Apostles while Paul boldly calls himself an apostle to the Gentiles even though he is not a disciple of Jesus before his death and resurrection,” Renu writes.

Christian blogger Erica Lee, whose blog “Unfiltered & Free” looks at gender and other topics through a biblical lens, told The Christian Post that filtering Scripture through feminism will only fuel further division.

“The feminist movement is nothing more than another societal ploy to divide the population against themselves,” Lee said. “Satan is the master deceiver and he is hard at work.

“All social justice movements pit us against each other when we are all one Body in Christ. Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary was the great equalizer.”

Lee also said characterizing Mary Magdalene as a type of “13th apostle” is without scriptural basis.

“It appears to me that the author is simply uplifting an already significant female from the Bible to an elevated status as to remove perceived victimization,” said Lee. “Such twisting and manipulating of Scripture is dangerous.”

Renu’s piece also pushes back against the traditional interpretation of Acts 6:3, which says the apostles told the disciples, “Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty” of distributing to widows in the church.

According to Renu, there is little documentation about the identities of “the seven” who were chosen and that church fathers often used gendered language “to represent all the baptized,” even in the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D.

Renu suggests the seven might have been either men, women, or a combination of both.

She also argues that because the head of a family traditionally receives the blessing for all family members, “some of the seven names could indirectly refer to their daughters, sisters, mothers or other relatives.”

“They could even refer to couples or all the members of their families being selected for the service,” she added.

Lee told CP that such hermeneutical teaching is “a direct reflection of the modern church” and cited a recent study that found just 37% of pastors hold to a biblical worldview.

“That is a heartbreaking indictment on the church,” said Lee. “Therefore, as a result, we see articles such as this.”

Renu’s piece appears to have been written in response to news out of the Vatican that would allow women to serve alongside all-male clergy in senior management of the Catholic Church.

Published in March, the new constitution calls “for the involvement of laywomen and laymen, even in roles of government and responsibility.”

The document, however, did not alter the role for women as it pertains to worship in the Catholic Church.

In most countries, women were already serving as lectors and catechists in the Catholic Church. However, with the official ordination, more conservative bishops will be unable to prevent women in their dioceses from taking on those roles. Francis changed the laws of the Roman Catholic church in January 2021 to formally allow women to give readings from the Bible during Mass, act as altar servers and distribute communion.

Throughout his papacy, Francis has called for women to have more formal roles in the church, but has remained firm on forbidding women to become deacons or priests. Catholic doctrine prohibits the ordination of women as priests, as those roles are reserved for men.

In April 2020, the pope established a commission to study whether women should be granted the right to become ordained deacons. In this role, women would be permitted to preach and baptize, but not to conduct Mass.

Complete Article HERE!

In brief letter, Pope Francis speaks to LGBTQ Catholics

A mini-interview with the Holy Father

By James Martin, SJ

On May 5, on behalf of Outreach, I asked Pope Francis if he would be willing to respond to a few of the most common questions that I am asked by LGBTQ Catholics and their families.

In my note, written in Spanish, I offered three questions and said that he could be as brief as he wished, especially since he was suffering from a flareup of pain in his knee, and respond in any form that he would like. We proposed this as a mini-interview. Three days later, I received a handwritten note with his answers.

“With respect to your questions,” he wrote, “a very simple response occurs to me.”

We are delighted to share the Holy Father’s answers (along with the text of his letter in the original Spanish and an English translation) with the LGBTQ Catholic community and their friends today.

Outreach: What would you say is the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God?

Pope Francis: God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And “the style” of God is “closeness, mercy and tenderness.” Along this path you will find God.

Outreach: What would you like LGBT people to know about the church?

Pope Francis: I would like for them to read the book of the Acts of the Apostles. There they will find the image of the living church.

Outreach: What do you say to an LGBT Catholic who has experienced rejection from the church?

Pope Francis: I would have them recognize it not as “the rejection of the church,” but instead of “people in the church.” The church is a mother and calls together all her children. Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: “the just, the sinners, the rich and the poor, etc.” [Matthew 22:1-15; Luke 14:15-24]. A “selective” church, one of “pure blood,” is not Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.

Questions in Spanish:

  1. ¿Qué diría que es lo más importante que las personas LGBT deben saber de Dios?
  2. ¿Qué le gustaría que la gente LGBT supiera sobre la iglesia?
  3. ¿Qué le dice a un católico LGBT que ha está experimentado el rechazo de la iglesia?

The text of Pope Francis’ letter in Spanish:

Querido hermano, 

Gracias por tu correo. 

Respecto a tus preguntas se me ocurre una respuesta muy sencilla.

  1. Dios es Padre y no reniega de ninguno de sus hijos. Y “el estilo” de Dios es “cercanía, misericordia y ternura”. Por este camino encontrarás a Dios. 
  2. Me gustaría que leyeran el libro de los Hechos de los Apóstoles. Allí está la imagen de la Iglesia viviente.
  3. Le haría ver que no es “el rechazo de la Iglesia” sino de “personas de la Iglesia”. La Iglesia es madre y convoca a todos sus hijos. Cfr. la parábola de los invitados a la fiesta: “justos, pecadores, ricos y pobres, etc”. Una Iglesia “selectiva”, una Iglesia de “pura sangre”, no es la Santa Madre Iglesia, sino una secta.

Gracias por todo lo que hacés. Rezo por vos, por favor hacélo por mí.

Que Jesús te bendiga y la Virgen Santa te cuide.

Fraternalmente, 

Francisco.

English translation of the letter:

Dear brother,

Thank you for your mail.

With respect to your questions, a very simple response occurs to me.

  1. God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And “the style” of God is “closeness, mercy and tenderness.” In this way (or along this path) you will find God.
  2. I would like for them to read the book of the Acts of the Apostles. There they will find the image of the living church.
  3. I would have them recognize it not as the “rejection of the church,” but instead “of people in the church.” The church is mother and calls together all of her children. Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: “the just, the sinners, the rich and the poor, etc.” A “selective” church, one of “pure blood,” is not the Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.

Thank you for everything you do. I pray for you, please do so for me.

May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin guard you.

Fraternally, 

Francis

Complete Article HERE!

Makers of documentary hope it expands Catholic LGBTQ outreach

‘Building a Bridge’ is based on the book of the same name by Jesuit Father James Martin


Jesuit Father James Martin is seen in the documentary ‘Building a Bridge,’ a film about his LGBT ministry.

By Mark Pattison

The makers of the documentary Building a Bridge, which makes its debut on streaming platforms and video on demand on May 3, hope the film will extend the Church’s outreach to LGBTQ Catholics.

“I really want this film to be accessible in any part of the world, for that matter. We’re hoping that we’re going to launch educational opportunities to show in different high schools and colleges and universities and hopefully maybe have it at libraries,” said Evan Mascagni, one of two co-directors of the movie.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do a lot of those grassroots community screenings, and follow that up with Q-and-A’s,” Mascagni added. “Hopefully our film can be a resource or a tool for a parish, like someone who wants to start their own LGBTQ ministry in a place like Kentucky,” from which he hails.

“I really hope that the film can reach young people, and people who might not know any other clear path and feel they can joining a community or even start a community like Out in St. Paul,” a gay Catholic ministry featured in Building a Bridge, said Shannon Post, the other co-director, during an April 28 conference call with Catholic News Service.

Building a Bridge is based on the book of the same name by Jesuit Father James Martin, editor at large of America magazine and a consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication as well as being the author of several books.

Father Martin, who admitted being “uncomfortable” being the focus of the film — “the film should be about the ministry, not me,” he said on the conference call — added, “parishes, too,” as an important point outreach with the movie.

Post had wanted to make a documentary about the shooting rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people, including a college classmate of hers

“My real target is the LGBTQ Catholic youth, who is wondering if there really is a place in the church for LGBTQ people,” Father Martin said. “They will see this and know that God loves them, and to quote Cardinal (Wilton D.) Gregory (of Washington), know that they are at the heart of the church.”

Post and Mascagni co-directed the 2015 documentary Circle of Poison, about the manufacture and sale in the United States of pesticides banned by the federal government for use in other nations.

Post had wanted to make a documentary about the shooting rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people, including a college classmate of hers. Mascagni, who had pretty much turned his back on the Catholic Church in which he was brought up, relented to his mother’s importuning that he go to a talk given by “a cool priest” she’d found on Instagram.

The priest was Father Martin. “It was one of his first Building a Bridge talks, Mascagni recalled. He then went to Post and said, “I think there’s a story here.”

They convinced Father Martin to let himself be filmed. When he was invited to speak at the Vatican’s World Conference of Families in 2018 in Dublin, Mascagni and Post told him: “We’re going to Dublin.” “Why are you coming to Dublin?” he remembers asking them. “They said, ‘We’re making a documentary,'” which is when he realized “this wasn’t going to be a fly-by-night operation. This was going to be a serious documentary.”

Three years later, Building a Bridge had its cinematic debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Assessments by many of those featured in the movie had good things to say. Critics of Father Martin’s ministry — among them Michael Voris of Church Militant, who is featured in the documentary — have yet to weigh in.

But Mascagni said: “In the film, we point out all the trolling that happens on Father Martin’s social media. Now that we’ve announced the film on social media, we’re starting to get a tiny part of that.”

In addition to Post and Mascagni’s “impact plan” to take the movie on the road with post-screening question-and-answer sessions and LGBTQ profiles they couldn’t jam into a feature that already was running 90 minutes long — America Media is introducing in May a new website called https://outreach.faith.

Father Martin will coordinate news and resources to be posted on the website, as well as details for a new “Outreach” conference for LGBTQ Catholics in June at Jesuit-run Fordham University.

“Parishes, particularly in the West, are realizing they have to deal with LGBTQ kids — as well as LGBTQ parishioners themselves,” he said. “That trend is not going to change. People are not going to stop coming out.”

Building a Bridge will be available on video on demand May 3, followed by a launch on AMC+ June 21 and broadcast premiere on Sundance TV June 26.

Complete Article HERE!

Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision 2022

Paintings by Douglas Blanchard

A contemporary Jesus arrives as a young gay man in a modern city with “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by Douglas Blanchard. The 24 paintings present a liberating new vision of Jesus’ final days, including Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and the arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection.

“Christ is one of us in my pictures,” says Blanchard. “In His sufferings, I want to show Him as someone who experiences and understands fully what it is like to be an unwelcome outsider.” Blanchard, an art professor and self-proclaimed “very agnostic believer,” used the series to grapple with his own faith struggles as a New Yorker who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.












High-quality reproductions of Doug Blanchard’s 24 gay Passion paintings are available at: http://douglas-blanchard.fineartamerica.com/ Giclee prints come in many sizes and formats. Greeting cards can be purchased too. Some originals are also available.

Visit Douglas Blanchard’s site HERE!

Marx supports change to teaching on homosexuality

The cardinal said that he had blessed a gay couple in Los Angeles some years ago, but said it had not been a marriage.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, speaking at a press conference in January.

by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich is in favour of changing church teaching on homosexuality.

The catechism, which says that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”, was “not set in stone” and it was permissible to question what it said, he pointed out in an interview in the German glossy weekly Stern.

“Homosexuality is not a sin. LGBTQ people are part of creation and loved by God, and we are called upon to stand up against discrimination [against them]. Whosoever threatens homosexuals and anyone else with hell has understood nothing,” Marx said.

The issue had already been discussed at the Synod on the Family in Rome in 2018, he recalled, “but there was a reluctance to put anything down in writing”. He had already pointed out at the time that homosexual couples “live in an intimate loving relationship that also has a sexual form of expression” and had posed the rhetorical question: “And we want to say that is not worth anything?”

He admitted that there were Catholics who wanted to limit sexuality to reproduction “but what do they say to couples who cannot have children?” the cardinal asked.

Marx admitted that “a few years ago” he had blessed a homosexual couple in Los Angeles who had come up to him after Mass. But it had not been a marriage, he pointed out. “We cannot offer the sacrament of marriage”, he emphasised.

It would not be easy to find consensus on the homosexuality issue in the universal Church, he said. “Africa and the Orthodox Churches partly have a very different take. Nothing is achieved if this issue leads to a split but at the same time we must not stand still.”

Finding consensus on the issue is meanwhile already running into difficulties in the German archdiocese of Paderborn.

The archdiocesan priests’ council has sent a letter of protest to Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker. Last Christmas Becker sent the more than one thousand priests in his archdiocese a book by emeritus Curia Cardinal Paul Cordes on the 60th anniversary of his priesthood. It now turns out that in one chapter Cordes says that homosexuality is “profoundly against God’s will”.

Enclosed in Cordes’ book was a letter by Archbishop Becker announcing that he had founded a work group to handle “queer-sensitive pastoral work” in the archdiocese.

The archdiocese explained on 31 March that Cordes, who was from the archdiocese of Paderborn, had dedicated his book to the archdiocese’s priests. “Opinions [on homosexuality] differ and these differences must be taken into consideration”, the archdiocesan statement said. A factual exchange was “crucial”.

Complete Article HERE!

Black gay priest in NYC challenges Catholicism from within

Rev. Bryan Massingale

By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu 

Parishioners worshipping at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Harlem are greeted by a framed portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. — a Baptist minister named after a rebellious 16th century German priest excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The Rev. Bryan Massingale, who sometimes preaches at St. Charles, pursues his ministry in ways that echo both Martin Luthers.

Like King, Massingale decries the scourge of racial inequality in the United States. As a professor at Fordham University, he teaches African American religious approaches to ethics.

Like the German Martin Luther, Massingale is often at odds with official Catholic teaching — he supports the ordination of women and making celibacy optional for Catholic clergy. And, as a gay man, he vocally disagrees with the church’s doctrine on same-sex relations, instead advocating for full inclusion of LGBTQ Catholics within the church.

The Vatican holds that gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered” and sinful.

In his homily on a recent Sunday, Massingale – who became public about being gay in 2019 — envisioned a world “where the dignity of every person is respected and protected, where everyone is loved.”

But the message of equality and tolerance is one “that is resisted even within our own faith household,” he added. “Preach!” a worshiper shouted in response.

Massingale was born in 1957 in Milwaukee. His mother was a school secretary and his father a factory worker whose family migrated from Mississippi to escape racial segregation.

But even in Wisconsin, racism was common. Massingale said his father couldn’t work as a carpenter because of a color bar preventing African Americans from joining the carpenters’ union.

The Massingales also experienced racism when they moved to Milwaukee’s outskirts and ventured to a predominately white parish.

“This would not be a very comfortable parish for you to be a part of,” he recalled the parish priest saying. Thereafter, the family commuted to a predominantly Black Catholic church.

Massingale recalled another incident, as a newly ordained priest, after celebrating his first Mass at a predominantly white church.

“The first parishioner to greet me at the door said to me: ‘Father, you being here is the worst mistake the archbishop could have made. People will never accept you.‘”

Massingale says he considered leaving the Catholic Church, but decided he was needed.

“I’m not going to let the church’s racism rob me of my relationship with God,” he said. “I see it as my mission to make the church what it says it is: more universal and the institution that I believe Jesus wants it to be.”

For Massingale, racism within the U.S. Catholic Church is a reason for the exodus of some Black Catholics; he says the church is not doing enough to tackle racism within its ranks and in broader society.

Nearly half of Black U.S. adults who were raised Catholic no longer identify as such, with many becoming Protestants, according to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center. About 6% of Black U.S. adults identify as Catholic and close to 80% believe opposing racism is essential to their faith, the survey found.

The U.S. Catholic Church has had a checkered history with race. Some of its institutions, such as Georgetown University, were involved in the slave trade, and it has struggled to recruit African American priests.

Conversely, Catholic schools were among the first to desegregate and some government officials who opposed racial integration were excommunicated.

In 2018, U.S. bishops issued a pastoral letter decrying “the persistence of the evil of racism,” but Massingale was disappointed.

“The phrase ‘white nationalism’ is not stated in that document; it doesn’t talk about the Black Lives Matter movement,” he said. “The problem with the church’s teachings on racism is that they are written in a way that is calculated not to disturb white people.”

At Fordham, a Jesuit university, Massingale teaches a class on homosexuality and Christian ethics, using biblical texts to challenge church teaching on same-sex relations. He said he came to terms with his own sexuality at 22, upon reflecting on the book of Isaiah.

“I realized that no matter what the church said, God loved me and accepted me as a Black gay man,” he said.

His ordination in 1983 came in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that disproportionately affected gay men and Black Americans. Among his first funerals as a priest was that of a gay man whose family wanted no mention of his sexuality or the disease.

“They should have been able to turn to their church in their time of grief,” Massingale said. “Yet they couldn’t because that stigma existed in great measure because of how many ministers were speaking about homosexuality and AIDS as being a punishment for sin.”

Pope Francis has called for compassionate pastoral care for LGBTQ Catholics. However, he has described homosexuality among the clergy as worrisome, and Vatican law remains clear: same-sex unions cannot be blessed within the church. Some dioceses have fired openly LGBTQ employees.

Massingale has a different vision of the church: one where Catholics enjoy the same privileges regardless of sexual orientation.

“I think that one can express one’s sexuality in a way that is responsible, committed, life giving and an experience of joy,” he said.

Massingale has received recognition for his advocacy from like-minded organizations such as FutureChurch, which says priests should be allowed to marry and women should have more leadership roles within the church.

“He is one of the most prophetic, compelling, inspiring, transforming leaders in the Catholic Church,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, the organization’s co-director. “When he speaks, you know very deep truth is being spoken.”

Along with his many admirers, Massingale has some vehement critics, such as the conservative Catholic news outlet Church Militant, which depicts his LGBTQ advocacy as sinful.

At Fordham, Massingale is well-respected by colleagues, and was honored by the university with a prestigious endowed chair. To the extent he has any critics among the Fordham faculty, they tend to keep their misgivings out of the public sphere.

He says he receives many messages of hope and support, but becoming public about his sexuality has come at a cost.

“I have lost some priest friends who find it difficult to be too closely associated with me because if they’re friends with me, ‘what will people say about them?’” he said.

Massingale remains optimistic about gradual change in the Catholic Church because of Pope Francis and recent signals from bishops in Europe who expressed a desire for changes, including blessing same-sex unions.

“My dream wedding would be either two men or two women standing before the church; marrying each other as an act of faith and I can be there as the official witness to say: “Yes, this is of God,” he said after a recent class at Fordham. “If they were Black, that would be wonderful.”

German Catholic Priests Come Out As Queer, Demand End For Institutional Discrimination

Around 125 people including former and current priests in Germany came out as gay and queer and demanded an end to institutional discrimination against the queer community.

Over 120 priests and employees with the Catholic church community in Germany came out as queer and launched a campaign demanding an end to institutional discrimination against LGBTQ people.

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany on Sunday faced renewed calls for better protection of LGBTQ rights and an end to institutional discrimination against queer people.

Around 125 people, including former and current priests, teachers, church administrators and volunteers, identified themselves as gay and queer, asking the church to take into account their demands and do away with “outdated statements of church doctrine” when it comes to sexuality and gender.

The members of the church community published seven demands on social media under the “OutInChurch” initiative. These demands range from queer people saying they should be able to live without fear and have access to all kinds of activities and occupations in the church without discrimination.

They said their sexual orientation must never be considered a breach of loyalty or reason for dismissal from their occupation. They ask the church to revise its statements on sexuality based on “theological and human-scientific findings.”

Besides asking for equal rights, employees also put down demands that the church takes accountability for their discrimination against people of the community throughout history, calling on the bishop to take responsibility on behalf of the church.

What has been the Vatican’s stance?

The Vatican, home of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church, ruled last year that priests cannot bless same-sex unions and that such blessings weren’t valid.

But the ruling also reignited a debate on the matter, and there was considerable resistance against it in some parts of Germany.

Last year, at least two bishops in Germany, including Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, one of the pope’s top advisers, showed some support for a kind of “pastoral” blessing for same-sex unions.

In Germany and the United States, parishes and ministers also began blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, with growing calls for bishops to institutionalize gay marriage.

However, in response to formal questions from a number of dioceses on whether the practice was allowed, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) made clear it wasn’t, ruling: “negative.”

Pope Francis approved the response, adding that it was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite” of the sacrament of marriage.

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ Catholic priest who rescues homeless youth rebukes Bishop

I wanted to keep him out of trouble with the Church, but he shows no evidence of wishing the same in this impassioned plea for love & justice

St. Peter Cathedral of Marquette, the Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Michigan

By James Finn

Fr. Andy Herman is a Roman Catholic priest who corresponds with me about LGBTQ issues. I have sometimes observed that Catholic priests are reluctant to publicly criticise Church teachings and practices.

Andy is a remarkable, refreshing exception. He offered to be interviewed. I asked him to write up a first-person story. This is it, after I edited and polished it. I wanted to keep him out of trouble with the Church, but he shows no evidence of wishing the same, which you’ll see in this impassioned, earthy plea for love and justice.

If this story inspires you, ask him for more, especially accounts of his youth rescue work in Los Angeles, which is hair-raising love in action.

Hi! My name’s Andy!

(“Hi Andy!” )

I’m bisexual!

(“Welcome, Andy!” [Applause.])

And I have been “intrinsically disordered” for… 74 years!

([Applause picks up, whoops & shouts of encouragement and congratulations.])

I know that’s tweaked a bit, because to be honest I’m not personally familiar with 12-step meetings. But the real problem is, it’s ass backwards.

My real name IS Andy. Andy Herman. Father Andy Herman. I’m a Roman Catholic priest.

I retired myself from public ministry with the institutional Catholic Church, because many years ago I vowed to make sure my mom and dad would never have to go into a nursing home as they declined in age. Which vow I was able to keep.

I was also canonically bounced out of my religious community, because I decided not to return to them while I was taking care of my parents. It was all very friendly. Honestly. I have the documentation to prove it.

But I’m not here to talk about me.

I am here to talk about the ass backwards garbage coming out of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Michigan.

I’m sure those of you who keep up with Catholic news know what I’m talking about. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community in that diocese have, in essence, been told to go eff themselves.

LGBTQ Catholics are not wanted in Upper Michigan in any way, shape, or form. They will not be permitted to take part in most (or any) of the sacramental and communal life of the Church.

What I do now is try to help homeless people on the street, most especially homeless kids, and really most especially, LGBTQ kids.

The Marquette Diocese is led by a Bishop whose name I will not utter, in the manner of news organizations not repeating the name of a perpetrator of a particularly terrible crime. That’s what’s going on in Upper Michigan — crimes against LGBTQIA+ people, especially Roman Catholics.

Let’s call him Bishop ID, Intrinsically Disordered, because that’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls US. Or better yet, let me refer to him as Bishop AB. Sure you get that one right off.

I ranted about this situation in a letter to the Prism & Pen editors, when it was first reported here. I was told maybe I could pen something, but just shave off some of the rougher ranting edges. So, I think I’ve un-ranted pretty much, and also don’t want to go into some analysis that’s already been done.

I just want to present a couple of points to the people of Upper Michigan, especially those of you who may be LGBTQ+ Catholics, and, I guess, particularly to those of you who may want to remain in the Church.

Or not.

I’ll also presume that latter description is one that many of you have already answered. Like so many of us, you’ve already left a place where you’re not wanted.

Let me just briefly tell you what these points are, and, if you think they’re worth something, please share them if it’s at all appropriate, especially with young people who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

I grew up in Chicago and have been out here in Los Angeles for many years. What I do now is try to help homeless people on the street, most especially homeless kids, and really most especially, LGBTQ kids.

So I am sick and tired — to put it mildly — to have to, for the 3 millionth time in my life, explain THIS to kids who are of our community:

  • There is not a damn thing wrong with you.
  • God does love you, and Jesus never said an effing thing against you.

Period. But let me not rant further.

Let me, as a trained Roman Catholic priest, make the following points:

1.) Apparently, the Bishop of Marquette, and so many others like him, have spent not one moment praying, meditating, contemplating, experiencing, talking about, or studying anything of any consequence regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What the Bishop is perpetrating is utterly opposite to that Gospel. I’m wrong about a lot of things in life, but I damn well know what I just said is accurate. The only persons who are “intrinsically disordered” here are Bishop AB and his cohorts.

To my fellow LGBTQ people, I say continue to be safe, protect yourselves, and THRIVE in all the practical ways you can, especially you who are our children. Never be the victims of this garbage, inside or outside yourselves.

2.) Pope Francis has called for a two-year process of synodality, and especially asked that people whose voices are opposite to, or never heard in the context of the Catholic Church, be given a seat at the table to discuss where the hell the Church should be going in years to come.

So, if you have the inkling to, speak up and tell Bishop AB that the Pope has personally invited you to sit at the table and give, even if that giving is seen as opposing the traditional, death-encrusted way talking about our faith that our Catholic leaders have indulged in for far too long.

3.) What Bishop AB has done is absolutely and utterly in contradiction to the morality of the Gospel, and certainly to the best pastoral practice of Catholic Church teaching. More than anything, he stands in utter defiance of Pope Francis’ attitude, which puts caring about people in front of stagnant, dormant, full-of-crap definitions of dogma and Catholic practice.

Bishop AB has declared dangerous nonsense against our community in the Diocese of Marquette, and if you want to get involved, please, you should immediately contact the Office of the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. Ask that a canonical investigation of Bishop AB be initiated, and ask that — if the findings are as accurate as they are publicly presented now, and he is in egregious violation of the teachings of Jesus Christ — that he be removed from office immediately.

With a sigh, I would also suggest that you might recommend an investigation to determine if Bishop AB is something like a “Bishop Roy Cohn,” a name I would give him if he, sadly, is a self-hating member of our community, just like the notorious lawyer on the national scene years ago.

Here is the Nuncio’s contact information:

Apostolic Nunciature

Office: 202-333-7121Fax: 202-337-4036 Working Days and Hours: Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm

With…www.nuntiususa.org

4.) No matter what you want to do, please always realize you don’t have to celebrate sacraments to get into heaven, if that’s the way you think about things, especially if the people who are supposed to guard the integrity of your “immortal soul” refuse you access to those very sacraments.

You can really get in contact with Jesus with the same surety as they supposedly offer, by simply sitting and praying — or gathering together with priests who have the cojones to offer Mass and celebrate the other sacraments, with and for you.

And if none of those “guys” up there in Michigan’s UP will do this, do it yourselves. Baptize one another. Confirm your kids reaching adulthood into belief that Jesus loves them. Forgive one another.

And most of all, consecrate bread and wine under the aegis that if two or three are gathered together in Jesus name, he is absolutely and uncontestedly present with and to you.

This is not BS passing for shallow theology. It is based in the Gospels.

5.) My last point is an old one from a most moldy and oldie traditional pastoral theology of the Sacrament of Penance, but it bears looking at. If a penitent is not able in some ways to recognize that he or she has sinned, or there are other confusions and concerns about whether or not the sins can be forgiven, a confessor can take upon himself the sins of the penitent, in order that the penitent be freed and given absolution.

So all of you LGBTQ people out there who make love, get married, and have great and loving sex, all of which are considered grievous sins by the Catholic Church, send the damn things over to me, because I sure as hell WILL accept them without any fear of ending up in hell myself. (If you even talk in language like that, because I don’t.)

Even if you don’t go to confession anymore, that’s my offer as a priest. Just sit down, get yourself into a state where you can think about these things, and send them over to me.

I will absorb them, and you are free to go about your normal, regular daily life. But please only do this if it really bothers you and you think that way. Otherwise, who cares?

Do you really think Jesus is sitting at the prosecutors’ table or even behind the bench as the judge, and wants to forgive you for stuff that, even to a nitpicker, isn’t worth being denied 10 nanoseconds of eternity without being completely wrapped up with God?

Remember who’s intrinsically disordered.

You may be an ass, you may be a jerk, you may be evil as hell, you may be lots of things, but you are not an evil person just because you are LGBTQ. You/We are exactly the opposite: we are the sons and daughters of a loving God, brothers and sisters of Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One.

If that’s how you want to phrase it.

The only kind of sex that is ever evil or sinful is coercive sex, otherwise known as assault and/or rape. That includes trafficking, but cannot include sex workers themselves, per se.

If someone is forced to do that to stay alive, or doing it for some negative psychological or emotional reason, the situation is evil, not the people forced into it. Gay, straight, or anywhere on the spectrum.

Let’s not get confused about this. Jesus never said anything about this.

Back when the early church sought to make itself more credible, it adopted certain forms of Greek philosophy, including this idea known as the “Natural Law.” Saint Thomas Aquinas adopted and pushed these ideas. He was apparently not a bad guy, but he cannot possibly stand in as a substitute for Jesus.

All that extra-Biblical natural law business, mixed up with the rather primitive prescriptions against any kind of same-sex anything, especially in the Jewish scriptures — well, that leads to the wondrously inhumane, tragically harmful attitudes and behaviors we see too often in the Church today.

Stay away from this thinking, these attitudes and actions.

Read the Gospel. Talk to people who don’t like being cruel and hateful to others, especially to kids. Band together with them. I think you’ll find that the brief analysis I’ve given here on these points is accurate.

Stay away from those who are the opposite, like Bishop AB and his followers. If you feel like telling them to go to hell, I don’t think it’s going to really matter because they may be on their way anyway.< But everyone, even the most horrible sinners, can be forgiven. So I say, “Look in the mirror, Bishop AB.” In the words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?” I don’t know who any of you are in person, but I send you my love and my support and my prayer and I ask you, please — for me and most especially for the homeless LGBTQ youth I work with — to throw it all back at me. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, Son of Man, or whoever you really think he is: Love one another, unconditionally, as he loves us. Thanks for reading. Fr. Andy Herman
***********************

Complete Article HERE!

When it comes to LGBTQ Catholics, what Pope Francis giveth, the Vatican taketh away

Pope Francis meets with German bishops during their ad limina visit Nov. 20, 2015.

By Claire Giangravé

At last month’s Pride parade in Rome, members of the city’s LGBTQ community waved rainbow flags, strewed glitter and generally exuded love to fellow marchers and those along the route. When they occasionally showed flashes of ire, their mockery and ridicule were aimed at some of Rome’s most familiar figures: Pope Francis and the Vatican hierarchy.

Some shouted at the churches they passed; others held sparkly signs with double-entendres aimed at the pontiff. Still others strutted their stuff dressed as Francis himself.

What angered Italian LGBTQ citizens was what they considered undue interference by the Vatican in its attempt to stall a controversial bill being debated in the Italian Senate that would criminalize homophobia. Named for its author, politician and activist Alessandro Zan, the bill would also institute a day aimed at raising awareness of sexuality and gender issues in schools.

Italian bishops have twice voiced their concerns about the Zan bill, claiming it would violate the religious freedom of Catholic schools, hospitals and other institutions. When that admonition fell on deaf ears, the Italian bishops’ conference sent a diplomatic note to the Italian government on June 22. The Zan bill, the bishops argued, violated the accords signed in 1929 between Italy and Vatican City, known as the Lateran Treaty, that set expectations for mutual noninterference.

In the middle of this heated debate, Francis sent a letter to the American Jesuit priest James Martin, about Martin’s efforts to promote inclusivity and to welcome LGBTQ individuals in the church.

“Our Heavenly Father comes close with love to each one of his children, each and everyone,” Francis wrote in the letter, praising Martin’s work.

Ever since Francis answered a question about a gay priest in 2013 with his own now famous question, “Who am I to judge?,” many Catholics have hailed the pontiff as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ inclusivity.

But while Francis has often shown in his words and personal acts of charity that he is close to LGBTQ individuals, the Vatican as an institution has done little to recast its hard doctrinal line, which views homosexuality as sinful and as “intrinsically disordered.”

“I can understand that it’s very confusing for people,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, a clerical abuse survivor and member of the LGBTQ community who frequently meets with Francis at the Vatican.

Despite the Vatican’s recent interference on the Zan bill, “that’s not who Pope Francis is,” Cruz said, adding that in private conversations the pontiff makes it clear that not only did God make the activist gay, but loves him the way he is.

Cruz made it clear that while he enjoys a personal relationship with the pope, and while Francis appointed him to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2020, he is not a papal spokesperson.

Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice and a longtime activist for LGBTQ rights in the Catholic Church, believes that Francis “wants to be compassionate and merciful to marginalized people — he sees us as marginalized people — but he doesn’t want to change the teachings that will free us from marginalization and get us justice.”

Catholic LGBTQ organizations are divided, Manson explained, between those who believe that “appealing to mercy and pulling at heartstrings” will lead to change in the Vatican and those who “have run out of patience.”

Occasionally the pontiff’s statements on homosexuality seem to contradict themselves. He has personally supported LGBTQ individuals in Italy and in Argentina — and last September, speaking to Italian parents of LGBTQ children, Francis said that “God loves their children as they are” and so does the Catholic Church. But he has also criticized gender theory, comparing it to nuclear weapons and calling it a form of ideological colonization.

The dynamic can be attributed to a “hate the sin, not the sinner” approach, but according to Cruz, it also suggests that there is not a little opposition to Francis’ support for LGBTQ Catholics among Vatican officials.

“I’ve never seen in my life a more political and LGBTQ-obsessed Curia,” he said. “It is sad to see how much Pope Francis wants to support and open his arms to the LGBTQ community and how much they put land mines in his path to be able to do it,” he added.

Concerning the CDF’s ban on the blessing of same-sex couples, which occurred shortly after Francis returned from his historic trip to Iraq, Cruz said he believes that “in some way (the pope) is going to try to repair the harm that document did.”

The CDF document, approved by Francis, seemed to be an attempt to rein in the discussions taking place in Germany known as the Synodal Path — a series of conferences involving local bishops and laity that has taken a progressive line on questions regarding sexuality and power structures in the Catholic Church. But LGBTQ Catholics in other countries regarded it as a gratuitous slap, and despite the ban from the Vatican, some German clergy have continued to bless same-sex couples.

Manson praised the pope for opening the conversation on LGBTQ issues in the church, which she believes has led to “meaningful change,” but she added that the time for talk is over. She called for the pope to meet with members of the LGBTQ community at the Vatican and publicly acknowledge his private statements on LGBTQ issues.

Cruz said that he known he’s “lucky” to be able to speak to the pope directly on these topics, praising Francis’ efforts to evolve the Vatican’s understanding of LGBTQ individuals, while adding that “we cannot change church teaching in a minute.”

He also longs for the pope to speak openly on these topics, he said, and for him not to “let others define it for him.”

Complete Article HERE!