Friday, September 18, 2015

New York Catholic Pastor Reports Meeting with Pope Francis, in Which Pope Says, "I Would Love to Visit and Talk to Gay and Lesbian People and Please Tell the Gays to Pray for Me"

Kira Brekke reports at Huffington Post today on a report provided by Father Gil Martinez, pastor at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, to HuffPo reporter Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. The interview is captured in the video at the head of the posting.

Father Martinez reports that he was celebrating Mass yesterday with Pope Francis in the pope's house chapel, and he handed the pope a copy of the video "Owning Our Faith," which documents the lives and experience of LGBT Catholics in the U.S. And then this occurred according to Father Martinez (I'm excerpting Brekke's article):

"I gave [the DVD] to him and I said, 'This is from the gays and lesbians of the United States,'" Father Martinez remembered, and recalled that the two had a brief conversation in Spanish about the Pope's upcoming trip to the United States.  
"I said, 'If you could watch it, it would be great," Martinez said, to which the Pope (amusingly) inquired as to whether it was a proper "european DVD." 
"He thanked me very much and he said, 'I would love to visit and talk to gay and lesbian people and please tell the gays to pray for me and I shall pray for them,'" Martinez said. "It was a really great, great moment." 

I think that, perhaps more than any U.S. bishop, it might be LGBT Catholics who could most reliably provide the pope with an accurate picture of the lives and experiences of this group of Catholics. As far as I'm aware, no such listening experience for Pope Francis has been built into the schedule of his visit to the U.S., and, unfortunately, groups ministering to LGBT people in the Catholic context have been barred from the upcoming World Meeting of Families — so that the pope will have no opportunity at that meeting, either, to meet LGBT Catholics in the U.S.

Except, of course, Ron Belgau, who is, many of us think, hardly representative of LGBT Catholics as a whole . . . . As far as I'm aware, the U.S. Catholic bishops have not created any official public listening space in which LGBT Catholics can be heard, can share their testimonies, their experiences, the stories of their lives, with the Catholic community. In fact, when U.S. bishops (I'm speaking in general terms here) do notice the existence of LGBT Catholics, they tend to do so by insinuating that the Catholic church stands over against the lives and experiences of LGBT human beings.

They tend to define Catholicism as antithetical to the humanity and the experience of LGBT people.

Otherwise, we are and have long been invisible to the bishops.

I wonder where the Francis effect is for a community long treated with such conspicuous lack of charity and justice by the pastoral leaders of the U.S. Catholic church.

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