To celebrate the end of Pride Month, Father James Martin, a Roman Catholic priest who advocates for LGBT causes, gave the homily at the pre-pride mass at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on June 29.
In his homily, Martin focused on how the ancient stories of the Bible applied to the contemporary Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Catholic community.
“The Bible is the Living word of God and, if we are open to it, God’s voice will always be revealed when we read or hear these readings, no matter how ancient,” Martin preached.
The homily equated Jesus’ rejection and persecution to the experience of contemporary persons who identify as LGBT. Martin cited biblical stories to inspire the LGBT community, like Jesus, to rise above persecution. Martin was both hopeful and solemn in his message regarding the future for the LGBT Catholic community.
Martin presumed that there were three lessons to be learned from ancient readings of the Bible. The first lesson was to be tough. Martin noted that Pope Francis has shown a willingness to accept the LGBT community, allowing LGBT-identifying Catholics to be more open regarding sexual identity (although Francis has, most recently, come out against progressive gender ideology).
The Jesuit priest asserted persecution and hard times among the Catholic LGBT community despite what he deems as positive steps taken by Pope Francis. He alluded to the firing of Catholic school workers in same-sex marriages, official church leaders and documents denouncing LGBT ideology, and what he termed local level, homophobic pastors and parishioners. Martin instructed the Catholic LGBT community to:
“Claim your rightful place in your church. Look, if you are a baptized Catholic and you are LGBT or are an LGBT parent or family member, you are as much a part of the church as the Pope, your local bishop, your pastor, or me. Root yourself in your baptism and claim your place in your church.”
Martin drew from the story of Jesus’ rejection by the people of Samaria who made him unwelcome. But like Jesus, Martin instructed the parishioners to move forward and to not only be accepted by the Church by laying their claim to it but also to advocate for their right to be involved in the ministry of the Church.
The second lesson Martin gleaned from the gospel readings was to be free like Jesus. He told LGBT Catholics to live a life unconcerned by rejection for their sexual identity. Comparing the situation to Jesus not caring if the Samaritans or his disciples rebuke him, Martin told LGBT Catholics that, like Jesus who was supremely free to “follow the Father’s will,” they are as well.
The America editor did not elaborate on the meaning of “Following the Father’s will” or how his will should be interpreted in the context of scripture.
Lastly, Martin insisted that the Catholic LGBT community stay hopeful because the Christian life is not a burden but rather easy. It is made easy if each Christian accepts Jesus Christ then [Christians] “are wrapped under what the theologian Barbara Reid calls the “protective cloak of his spirit.”
As an ordained clergyman, Martin is bound to both the word of God and also to church teaching. According to church teaching, the Bible is the inerrant word of God and is clear on sexual behavior as noted in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, Mark 10:6-9, 1 Timothy 1:10-11, and Genesis 19:1-5. The Roman Catholic Church espouses a traditionalist position that human sexual expression is to be within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. This is noted in Vatican documents including lines 2232-2243 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Humanae Vitae, and Pope Francis’ 2016 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.
Martin mentions following the Father’s will and even stated that “The Bible is the Living Word of God”. But this is presented as fitting his own definition of God’s word, not God’s actual word shown through the prophets and apostles on resisting sexual impurity.
Martin unashamedly condemned church teaching on sexuality that he is bound to uphold. It is critical in today’s secular culture that — at minimum — church officials preach the actual word of God, not the ideologically agenda-driven “word of God” that they themselves define.