A new letter from Pope Francis expresses compassion for the LGBT community, part of a wave of support expressed by the Holy Father in recent months.
The news came earlier this week, following the publishing of an interview with the pope and Fr James Martin, SJ—an American known for his LGBT ministry, and whose new documentary and “Outreach” resource website were released this month.
“God is Father and he does not disown any of his children,” Francis said in a three-question interview posted by Outreach on Monday—and also on the Holy See’s own Vatican News website.
“‘The style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness.’ Along this path you will find God.”
Writing in Spanish, the pope also noted that the rejection many LGBT people feel from Catholics should not be seen as from the Church proper but rather its people.
“The Church is mother and calls together all of her children,” he said.
“A ‘selective’ church, one of ‘pure blood,’ is not the Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.”
The letter is just the latest in a flurry of recent activity from Francis on LGBT issues, including a bombshell congratulatory letter sent in December to longtime LGBT minister Sr Jeannine Gramick, SL—a figure censured by the Vatican under Pope John Paul II for her views on doctrinal matters related to sexual ethics.
Francis had been in correspondence with New Ways Ministry, a similarly restricted ministry co-founded by Gramick in 1977, since early 2021 and thanked them for their work among LGBT Catholics.
Martin himself, a controversial figure in some Catholic circles, received his own handwritten letter from Francis on the occasion of last June’s inaugural “Outreach” LGBT ministry conference. The similarly named resource website, run by the Jesuits' America Media, emerged from that event.
(Martin’s colleague at America Magazine, Michael O’Loughlin, also received a letter from the pope upon the publishing of “Hidden Mercy”, an account of the Catholic Church’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.)
In January of this year, during a General Audience in Rome, the pope included LGBT children among those whom parents must be careful to nurture. The remarks made headlines in Catholic and secular media alike.
“Let’s think about how to help them,” he said.
“Never condemn a child.”
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).