Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship, of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity
By James Martin, SJ
Harper One, 2017, 150 pages
For decades, the progressive wing of the Roman Catholic church has been pushing for acceptance and “affirmation” of the church’s active LGBT members. Given the amount of headlines I’m seeing in the Catholic press, there are signs that this crusade is moving toward a critical, watershed moment. Jesuit priest, James Martin (photo left), serves as the unofficial point man for the pro-Gay movement within the church and his name is increasingly mentioned in related articles and news stories, both pro and con.
In this short but very influential book, Martin makes his case for the church to accept and affirm active LGBT members. In Martin’s viewpoint, it’s not a matter of homosexuality being sinful. Not at all. He starts from the premise that God made homosexuals just the way they are, therefore sin cannot be connected to their behavior. In this book, homosexuality is presented as a gift from God that the church must respect like any other. Martin calls for the church to repent of its bigoted past attitude towards active LGBT members, just as he calls upon active LGBT members to repent of their disrespectful attitudes towards the church’s “overburdened” and formerly intolerant hierarchy.
Although there are several references to Scripture passages that appeal to love and acceptance, the Bible passages that identify homosexuality as a sin are noticeable by their absence.
All of the above is essentially a moot point because Roman Catholicism does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But as a Vatican observer, it’s interesting to watch the liberal and conservative factions of the church jostling for advantage in this mounting controversy. Pope Francis has already overturned church dogma by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and by leaving the question of intercommunion with liberal Protestants up to each bishop. Will Francis also be able to overturn the church’s teaching on same-sex relationships and marriages or is the 81-year-old pontiff pragmatically preparing the way for his successor?
I don’t recommend this book to anyone. My interest was merely to get a clearer understanding of progressive Catholics’ views on homosexuality and all of my questions were answered.
Postscript: Martin suggests elsewhere that 30% of Catholic priests are homosexuals.