Pope Francis answers three questions put to him by Jesuit Father James Martin whose pastoral ministry involves the LGBT community.
By Linda Bordoni
“God’s style is closeness, mercy and tenderness” Pope Francis said answering three questions put to him by Jesuit Father James Martin who ministers to LGBT Catholics.
On 5 May Father Martin had written to the Pope in Spanish asking him to answer some questions that he is most commonly asked by LGBT Catholics and their families.
He received a hand-written response a couple of days afterward, that was published in the form of a short interview on Father Martin’s website “Outreach”.
“With respect to your questions,” the Pope wrote, “a very simple response occurs to me.”
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.
Pope’s words in July 2021
Last year in July Pope Francis had sent Father Martin a letter on the occasion of the webinar “Outreach 2021” in which he said that “God is close to and loves each and every one of his children. His heart is open to all. He is the Father.”
“Thinking about your pastoral work,” the Pope wrote, “I see that you continually try to imitate this style of God. You are a priest for everyone, as God is Father of everyone. I pray for you that you may continue in this way, being close, compassionate and full tenderness.”
“I pray for your faithful, your ‘parishioners,'” the Pope had concluded, “for all those whom the Lord has placed beside you so that you may care for them, protect them and make them grow in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.