In a private meeting at the Vatican, Jesuit Father James Martin met with Pope Francis and discussed the issues of LGBT Catholics.

Last Monday morning, Pope Francis received Father James Martin for a private meeting in the papal library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace that lasted 30 minutes. With only a translator present, they conversed in English and Spanish.

Martin said he shared with Pope Francis the “joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.” He didn’t reveal what the Holy Father said to him, except that they “both laughed several times.”

The Vatican doesn’t typically comment on the private meetings of the Pope with priests or bishops, but Martin said he took the meeting as a “clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide.”

Father James Martin has drawn controversy for his “ambiguous” statements on LGBT issues as they relate to Church teaching. After speaking at the University of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput of the city’s diocese criticized the Jesuit for inspiring “hope that the Church’s teachings on human sexuality can be changed.”

“A pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing. Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.”

Chaput credited Martin with never directly challenging Church teaching, but also criticized him for “incomplete truths.”

“What is implied or omitted often speaks as loudly as what is actually stated, and in the current climate, incomplete truths do, in fact, present a challenge to faithful Catholic belief. When people hear that ‘the Church welcomes gay people’ or needs to be more ‘inclusive and welcoming’ without also hearing the conditions of an authentically Christian life set for all persons by Jesus Christ and his Church – namely, living a life of chastity – they can easily misunderstand the nature of Christian conversion and discipleship.”

Other bishops followed suit after Chaput’s criticism. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois wrote:

“Father Martin’s public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God’s law. People with same-sex attraction are indeed created and loved by God and are welcome in the Catholic Church. But the Church’s mission to these brothers and sisters is the same as to all her faithful: to guide, encourage, and support each of us in the Christian struggle for virtue, sanctification, and purity.”

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