Pope Francis to speak at pro-LGBT LA Religious Education Conference

Father James Martin and Bishop Robert Barron will also address the event
Mon Feb 8, 2021 - 10:09 am EST
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LOS ANGELES, California, February 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis is to give a video address to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, which has a long history of promoting and giving a platform to speakers who contradict Church teaching on abortion and LGBT issues.

The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress is now in its 65thyear, and due to COVID restrictions, will be taking place online from February 18-21. The normal in-person event is described as the largest annual event of its kind, and it is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Announcing the news of Pope Francis’s address, Sister Rosalia Meza, the senior director of the Archdiocesan office for religious education, described it as a “great blessing.”

“Congress, be it virtual this year, is a time of encounter, a time to gather to celebrate and grow in our faith, bringing us closer to Christ and God’s loving mercy, but most importantly to take what we learn during these three days and take it back to our communities,” stated Sr. Meza. The Pope will deliver his address on the first day of the event.

The congress, which this year is held under the theme of “Proclaim the promise,” has a history of hosting speakers who dissent from Catholic Church teaching, particularly on matters pertaining to LGBT ideology and homosexuality. There are reports of Catholics protesting the event from as far back as 1994. In 2012 LifeSiteNews reported that speakers scheduled to speak at the event that year included had described radically pro-abortion former U.S. President Barack Obama as “pro-life,” had called for “public models of gay priests,” had opposed marriage protection legislation, and encouraged children to engage in “genital self-touch.”

Last year, the congress displayed the artwork of the William Hart McNichols, an openly homosexual former-Jesuit priest, who has previously painted a picture of the crucified Christ, with the sign “AIDS, homosexual, faggot, pervert, Sodomite,” on top of the cross. 

FatherJames Martin S.J, the celebrity priest who is one of the most prominent advocates for acceptance of homosexuality in the Church, continues his habit of many years by speaking at the conference. Whilst the Catholic Church teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (CCC 2357), Martin has previously claimed that such teaching is not “authoritative.” Martin has even expressed the hope that homosexuals will be able to kiss in church, at the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo Mass.

Martin is to be joined by a number of lay and clerical speakers at the online event, including San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy who will give a keynote address entitled “What is Truth?”. McElroy recently declared it would be “destructive” for Catholic bishops to adhere to Catholic teaching and ban pro-abortion Joe Biden from receiving Holy Communion, decrying how abortion was being used as a “litmus test” for assessing Catholic politicians.

McElroy will also co-lead a workshop called the “Impact of Climate Change: New Alliance Between Science and Religion.” The workshop is based on the principle that “climate change is an existential threat,” and will draw on themes contained in Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si.

Father Gregory J Boyle, S.J. is also due to speak at the event, despite his description of the Church’s opposition to same-sex “marriage” as “demonizing people,” as well as attacking the Church for not ordaining women.  The Congress mentioned him specifically when listing the key speakers at the event.

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Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron joins the list of speakers favorable to LGBT ideology, having also recently described Martin as a “winsome guide to all those who want to deepen their friendship with the Lord.” 

By speaking at the event, and thus signalling his support for its pro-LGBT history and current prominent pro-LGBT speakers, Pope Francis would not be acting without precedent. Only a few months ago, Francis made possibly his clearest contravention of Church teaching to date, by calling for the legal recognition of homosexual civil unions. In 2003, in a document by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and approved and ordered published by Pope St. John Paul II, the Church issued specific guidance on the need to reject homosexual civil union proposals. The document called “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons,”states that “all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

The Pope’s statement came on top of a number of previous comments, highlighting his support for LGBT ideology and same-sex unions. A few weeks prior to his call for same-sex civil unions, he told a group of Italian parents, who hold their children to be LGBT, that “God loves your children as they are.”

LifeSiteNews contacted Sr. Meza, asking about Fr. Martin’s appearance despite his opposition to Church teaching, and what role the Pope’s address would play in approving the actions of Martin and others, who deviate from Church teaching. No response was received at time of publishing.  

Commenting on the news of Pope Francis’ address to the LA Congress, prominent U.K. Catholic commentator Deacon Nick Donnelly stated: “The LA Congress has a history of promoting dissent from the doctrines of the Faith; especially by giving a platform to LGBT activists who publicly repudiate Church teaching on the immorality of homosexual sex.” 

“Pope Francis has a real opportunity in his online appearance to address and correct this scandal. It would give hope to faithful parents, teachers and clergy who have had to endure this annual assault against the Faith for decades. However tragically for the US Church, this pope has professed himself unable to judge on such matters.”

“Under his pontificate emboldened clergy, such as Fr. James Martin SJ and Bishop McElroy, have sunk to new depths of subversion against the dignity of human sexuality safeguarded by natural law and divine revelation,” Donnelly continued.

“I fear that instead of a chastened LA Congress we will witness it descending into even more extreme defiance of God and His Church. This will have very dangerous consequences for the children subjected to this corrupted vision of Catholic education,” he concluded.

To register respectful concerns about the Congress: 

Contact information:

Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Office of the Archbishop of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Boulevard, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241
Phone: (213) 637-7534
FAX: (213) 637-6510
[email protected]

Office of Media Relations
(213) 637-7215
(213) 216-8395
[email protected]

  catholic, church crisis, james martin, lgbtq+, los angeles religious education congress, pope franis, robert barron

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