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Fr. James Martin at Boston College, 2014. Youtube.
Joseph Sciambra

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Tobin, Martin, New Ways: Connecting the dots in the Catholic Deep Gay State

Joseph Sciambra

August 30, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – Several "Catholic" LGBT ministries, including New Ways MinistryThe Global Networks of Rainbow Catholics, and Quest, have formed an alliance with the Human Rights Campaign in order to lobby Catholic prelates during the upcoming Synod on Young People, to be held in Rome this October. Jesuit priest James Martin has publicly supported all three of these ministries.

On August 22, 2018, during the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland, where James Martin was a featured speaker, a number of Catholic LGBT activists from different countries held a press conference to announce this initiative and to launch the corresponding website: Equal Future 2018According to a report from New Ways Ministry:

At the press conference, four young Catholic LGBT people told parts of their personal journeys growing up LGBT and Catholic.

One of the young people was Xorje Olivares, a gay journalist from New York City and a member of the Catholic LGBT ministry Out at St. Paul, which is funded and overseen by the Paulist Fathers.

At the press conference, he stated:

I've come to accept the fact that being gay is a choice, but God's, not mine.

According to the Equal Future website:

Catholic Church leaders need to consider the role that the church's teaching on LGBT has had in giving children and young people the feeling that being LGBT would be a misfortune or a disappointment.

In addition, one of their stated goals includes:

The campaign calls on the Synod to consider the damage done as a consequence of the Church's teaching on LGBT, and to reconsider the teaching itself.

On July 16, 2017, James Martin, S.J. addressed Out at St. Paul, located at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in New York City. He had previously spoken to the group on March 2, 2017. On several occasions, Martin has recommended both the parish and Out at St. Paul (see video interview, and a Facebook live discussion). Following his July appearance at Out at St Paul, to publicize his book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, Martin posted pictures to his Facebook account from the event and thanked the following:

Thanks to Fr. Gil Martinez, CSP, the pastor; Xorje Olivares and everyone at "Out at St. Paul's," the LGBT outreach group at the parish; and everyone who came to the "Building a Bridge" event tonight.

In a 2016 article for Vice.com titled "How to Be Gay in the Catholic Church," Olivares wrote:

Lord knows that I love d‑‑‑... and He has for quite some time. In fact, it's been His will for roughly 29 years that I should solely find members of my sex attractive, and engage in physical (and often deeply spiritual) relationships with them in hopes of finding love. Who am I, a God-fearing Catholic, to question that? Jesus said to love my neighbor, and I can't help that Grindr says the nearest one is 264 feet away.

New Ways Ministry was founded by Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent. In 1999, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a "Notification," and both were:

Permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons ...

In 2011, Gramick stated: "But because I know church history, I know change takes centuries. We are planting seeds for change at the upper level of leadership." She continued: "When we started this work, only 20 percent of Catholics believed in equal rights for gays and lesbians. Now it's over 73 percent ... The church is moving." In an op-ed for "The Washington Post," she wrote:

Many Catholics have reflected on the scientific evidence that homosexuality is a natural variant in human sexuality, and understand that lesbian and gay love is as natural as heterosexual love. In forming our consciences, Catholics also consult scripture and our theological tradition. Here, again, there is little firm reason to oppose marriage equality.

In 2016, James Martin accepted the "Bridge Building Award" from New Ways Ministry, and his address at the awards ceremony served as the inspiration for his book Building a Bridge. In 2017, Martin called for the canonization of Jeannine Gramick.

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) is an international coalition of pro-LGBT Catholic groups which aspires to radically change Church teachings with regards to homosexual activity and same-sex marriage. According to the GNRC "Mission, Values and Objectives":

Our faith calls us to challenge all discriminatory structures and to advance the equality of LGBTI persons. Civil and church law should value and protect their human rights, not diminish or deny them. Any law or practice which oppresses, restricts, punishes or harms LGBTI persons is contrary to the Gospel ... We affirm the goodness and holiness of sexuality as a gift from God to help us become closer to our beloved, to the divine, and to ourselves. We recognize that sexuality touches the most vulnerable parts of our identity and needs to be expressed in ways that are generously loving and compassionate.

One of the co-chairs of GNRC is German theologian Michael BrinkschröderIn a 2017 interview, he said this about current teachings concerning homosexuality and the Church:

Sadly, the official statement is still: "Homosexual acts are a sin." However, we are in a period of transformation. While the papacy of Benedict XVI can truly be described as an ice age for the cause of lesbians and gays within the church, we see the current developments under Pope Frances as a thaw. This means that there are signs that hint at a change. However, there have been no specific acts or statements that would help gays and lesbians practically in their everyday lives.

The fact that Germany has introduced equal marriage for gays and lesbians will hopefully lead to a change in positions within the church as well.

Asked about his vision of the Catholic Church in 20 years, he said:

My vision for 2037? That the marriage of two women or two men has not only become a holy sacrament, but that it is possible to get the church's blessing for same-sex marriages. I hope the Catholic Church of the future openly supports and helps lesbians and gays who are seen as a normal part of religious life in many parishes worldwide. That might sound utopian to some, but this is already the case in some countries today.

Brinkschröder is also one of the organizers in the pro-gay activist group "Homosexuelle und Kirche." The stated "goals" of the group includes:

... the systematic commitment to equality and recognition of LGBT persons within Catholic institutions. Specifically, this means talking to bishops, Catholic associations and Catholic relief organizations to explore and demand the respective opportunities for more equality ... Topics will be according to the current considerations: Partnership blessing, Transgender and transsexuals, establishment of full-time pastoral structures in dioceses and support for human rights projects for LGBTs in Southern and Eastern Europe by aid agencies.

In 2016, "Homosexuelle und Kirche" participated in the influential biannual "Catholic Conference Day," which featured several prominent German bishops, including Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

James Martin recorded a video greeting for those attending the 2017 GNRC Assembly, stating: "I salute you ..."

From August 10-12, 2018, Quest, a pastoral support group for LGBT Catholics, hosted a "conference" at Robert Grosseteste University in Lincoln, England. The featured speakers include James Martin, self-outed gay priest James Alison, and Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton. In 2012, Quest came out publicly in support of same-sex marriage in the U.K.:

If, as we believe, all love and fidelity between human beings has its ultimate grounding in God, then Quest sees no inherent reason why the dedication of two human beings, committed in a public act of self-giving and devotion, should not take place in an explicitly religious setting. Indeed, for people of faith, not to include that element in an act of public devotion would be to exclude an essential dimension, the dimension of faith. 

Concerning same-sex relationships, Quest recommends:

When one is dealing with people who are so predominately homosexual that they will be in serious personal and perhaps social trouble unless they attain a steady partnership within their homosexual lives, one can recommend them to seek such a partnership and one accepts this relationship as the best they can do in their present situation.

The Human Rights Campaign is a pro-gay marriage LGBT advocacy group that seeks to pressure the Catholic Church into changing its teachings on homosexuality. On its website is a downloadable brochure specifically aimed at Catholics. Jeannine Gramick is extensively quoted:

"Historically, the Christian church has changed how it views sexuality but only officially after the change first occurred at the bottom, among the people. As a community, when we listen to each other's stories, and feel for each other, we'll experience a change of attitude." She sees new hope in the attitudes professed by Pope Francis. "Francis says don't obsess on cultural issues. He asks us to be obsessed with loving people, with supporting people, with having compassion. That's the first step."

Pope Francis appointed the highly gay-affirmative Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark to participate in the Synod on Young People. Tobin was one of a handful of Catholic cardinals to publicly praise James Martin's book Building a Bridge.

Published with permission from Joseph Sciambra.

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