Pope writes preface for book by LGBT-rights activist Fr James Martin

Pope Francis has written a preface for a new book by one of the Catholic Church’s most prominent apologists for the global gay rights movement.

By Simon Caldwell

The book by Fr James Martin, a Jesuit and media personality in the US, who is also editor at large of America: The Jesuit Review, is a meditation on the raising of Lazarus, which some critics say is presented in a way that can be seen as a metaphor for the encouragement of people with same-sex attractions to “come out” and “embrace” their sexuality.

In his preface to Come Forth: The Raising of Lazarus and the Promise of Jesus’ Greatest Miracle, which was published in Italian today and will be available in English from the autumn, Pope Francis describes Fr Martin as the “author of many other books that I know and appreciate” and a writer who has “the perspective of a person who has fallen in love with the Word of God”.

He praises Fr Martin’s book as “always fascinating and never predictable”, adding that the author is able to make “the biblical text come alive”.

The Pope said the book illustrates how the faithful can “practically feel the profound meaning of what Jesus does when He finds Himself before a dead man who is really dead, whose body gives off a nasty odour”.

“Jesus isn’t scared of coming close to sinners – to any sinner, even the most brazen and undaunted,” the Pope writes.

Rather, Jesus’s only concern, he says, is that “no one goes missing, that none are deprived of the possibility of feeling the loving embrace of His Father”.

“As I read the careful arguments and exegeses of the biblical scholars he cites, it made me wonder how often we manage to approach Scripture with the ‘hunger’ of a person who knows that that word really is the Word of God,” continues the Pope.

“The fact that God ‘speaks’ should give us a little jolt each and every day. The Bible truly is the nourishment we need to handle our lives. It’s the ‘love letter’ that God has sent — since long ago — to men and women living in every time and place.”

He added: “Rooting himself firmly in the Ignatian tradition, Father Martin brings us directly into the story of this friend of Jesus. We’re his friends, too — ’dead’ as we sometimes are on account of our sins, our failings and infidelities, the despondency that discourages us and crushes our spirits. Jesus is hardly afraid to get close to us — even when we ‘reek’ like a dead body that’s been buried for three days.

“No, Jesus isn’t afraid of our death, or our sin. He waits just outside the closed door of our hearts, that door that only opens from within, that we lock with a double bolt whenever we think God could never forgive us.”

The Pope’s praise for Fr Martin’s book comes a week after the pontiff caused controversy by telling the Italian bishops there was too much frociaggine (faggotry) in seminaries, and suggesting that candidates for the priesthood should be screened for their sexual preferences.

The backlash prompted the Vatican to issue an apology and to clarify the Pope’s inclusive approach to people with same-sex attractions.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologises to those who felt offended by the use of a term, as reported by others,” the Vatican statement said. It was reported that the Pope also, in a gesture that some interrupted as an attempt to mend fences, sent a sympathetic response to a young man who reached out to him after being rejected from seminary for being gay.

Fr Martin is a controversial figure for many Catholics because he has openly championed gay rights causes for years, including public speculation on whether St John Henry Newman was a homosexual just two days before he was beatified in 2010.

He repeated the same claim on the eve of the canonisation of the English saint in 2019, saying that St John Henry’s “relationship with Ambrose St. John is worthy of attention. It isn’t a slur to suggest that Newman may have been gay”.

In 2017, Fr Martin brought out a book on LGBT issues in the Church, called Building a Bridge, which included a preface by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna who praised his adoption of secular ideological categories to understand same-sex attraction as “a necessary step for beginning a respectful conversation”.

Fr Martin later said on Facebook that the preface by Cardinal Zuppi was “a huge vote of confidence by an important prelate” for ministry to LGBT Catholics.

Fr Martin was subsequently offered a place by Pope Francis at last year’s Synod on Synodality in Rome.

Following the publication of Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican declaration in December 2023 that provided for the non-liturgical blessings of same sex couples, Fr Martin was much involved in the subsequent media storm, especially on social media, and declared that “I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex unions”.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has stressed that the document does not imply an endorsement of sexual activity which the Church has traditionally held to be morally impermissible.

He did, however, last week respond to claims that the document was being used precisely for that purpose by dismissing such abuses as minor compared to clerical sex abuse.

The cardinal told the Spanish media outlet Alfa&Omega that when it came to Fiducia Supplicans being misused and wrongly interpreted, while “the most serious cases can be reported to the local bishop, I don’t believe we have to go on a witch hunt”.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope’s new picks for doctrinal body known for liberalism

— The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has been grappling with fallouts from allowing same-sex pastoral blessings

Pope Francis meets with members of Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in this file image.

By Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis has appointed three new members of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith as the Vatican’s doctrinal body grapples with fallouts from a declaration allowing pastoral blessing for same-sex couples, says a report.

Francis appointed Portuguese Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Italian Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, and Archbishop Bruno Forte as new members of the dicastery, says a report from the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

The dicastery is tasked to oversee matters of doctrinal orthodoxy throughout the global Catholic Church as well as the investigation and processing of sex abuse allegations against clergy.

The dicastery’s prefect since 2023, Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, has recently traveled to Egypt in order to ease tensions after the Coptic Orthodox Church suspended its dialogue with the Catholic Church amid concerns over the same-sex blessings declaration, the report stated.

Reportedly, there has been unease among some Catholic and Protestant Church leaders since the dicastery published the document, Fiducia Supplicans, (Supplicating Trust) on Dec. 18, 2023, which for the first time allows Catholic priests to offer non-liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

Liberal groups as well as LGBTQ activists have welcomed the declaration as a welcome step to promote inclusivity within the Catholic Church.

The new members of the dicastery are among the top-ranking clergy in the Catholic Church with expertise in theology and are known for their liberal views on Catholic doctrines like Pope Francis.

The 58-year-old Cardinal Mendonça is the head of the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education. An expert in the relationship between literature and theology, he has published poetry as well as academic theological articles.

He was the archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church from 2018 to 2022.

Before moving to Rome, Mendonça was a professor in Portugal and Brazil and spent one year at the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice at New York University.

Mendonça also served as the rector of the Capela do Rato, a private chapel in Lisbon known prior to the cardinal’s arrival for its ministry with people with same-sex attractions, CNA reported.

“I don’t choose the people with whom I have to walk. Since I don’t choose, I don’t judge. The attitude of the Church has to be one of welcome, of a normal accompaniment of what people live and are,” he said in an interview in 2015.

Mendonça wrote a preface to a book on feminist theology by Benedictine Sister Maria Teresa Forcades i Vila, who has advocated for a theological case for abortion rights that is “compatible with the Gospel,” which praised the sister for “courageously pointing out contradictions and looking for alternatives of interpretation that support a break in meaning and civilization.”

Pope Francis chose Mendonça to preach the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia in 2018 and made him a cardinal in 2019. He has been a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic since 2020.

“Whether remarried Christians, those wounded by the experience of marital breakdown, or the reality of new [irregular] families, or homosexual people, the Church must find a space for listening,” Mendonça said in 2016.

Cardinal Semeraro is the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

The 76-year-old cardinal served as bishop of Albano, a diocese located about 10 miles from Rome. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Lateran University.

Prior to being made a cardinal in 2020, Semeraro acted as the secretary for Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisers for seven years.

Semeraro wrote the preface to Father Aristide Fumagalli’s book “Possible Love: Homosexual Persons and Christian Morality” in 2020.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in 2016, Semeraro said that he had “no objection” to the legal recognition of civil same-sex unions as long as they “were not equated with the reality of marriage.”

The cardinal has also spoken publicly about his views on divorce and remarriage.

“I say that if divorced people want to remarry this is even a good thing: It means that they have not lost faith in marriage. And today the Church is very attentive to the subjective aspect of the issues, so it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Times change. …The parent who always punishes is as ineffective as the parent who never punishes,” he told the Quotidiano di Puglia in 2018.

Archbishop Forte is a theologian who has served as the archbishop of Chieti-Vasto in eastern Italy since 2004. The 74-year-old archbishop is the author of numerous publications on theology, philosophy, and spirituality, CNA reported.

John Paul II asked him to preach the spiritual exercises at the Roman Curia’s Lenten retreat in 2004 after Forte helped to oversee the preparation of the Vatican document “Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past,” which preceded Pope John Paul II’s apology for historical sins by the Church in 2000.

Forte was also responsible for sections on homosexuality in the interim document for the first session of the Synod on the Family in 2014, according to National Catholic Register correspondent Edward Pentin, who wrote a book about the synod.

“The Church does not believe that the term ‘family’ can be used to refer both to a union between a man and a woman that is open to procreation and a same-sex union. Having said this, it seems obvious to me that humans have different experiences and have rights that must all be protected. The issue here, therefore, is not equating the two in all senses, including in terminological terms,” Forte said during the synod in 2014, according to La Stampa.

Complete Article HERE!

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP on ‘LGBT+ Catholics in a Synodal Church’

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP

Hello. I am so sorry that I cannot be with you today. I have such happy memories of the time when I was on the rota to celebrate Mass for our LGBT+ brothers and sisters in Soho before the Mass moved to the care of the Jesuits in Farm Street.

I have been asked to say something about the place of LBGT Catholics in a Synodal Church. I am sorry that my talk will be so short. I have just returned from a lecture tour in Italy and France and I am off in a couple of days to Israel, to be with the Dominicans in Jerusalem at the Ecole Biblique so, to be honest, I feel rather rushed off my feet.

A few days ago, the Vatican asked me to do something which was unimaginable a few years ago. I was asked to write a foreword for the English translation of a book by a young Italian, Luigi Testa. It is called Via Crucis di un Ragazzo Gay (The Way of the Cross of a Gay Lad). The Italian preface, which is marvellous, was written by an Italian bishop, the vice-president of the Italian Bishops’ conference. We follow Luigi’s sufferings as young gay person as he walks the way of the Cross, accompanied by Jesus. It is deeply moving. The book is part of a series promoted by the Vatican, of theology from the peripheries. It is a sign of the profound conversion which is taking place at the centre of the Church, as she reaches out to people who have been marginalised and rejected, and says ‘This is your home. We are incomplete without you.’

Before the Synod, Pope Francis frequently stressed that all are welcome. Last August in Portugal, he underlined this at the World Youth Day. ‘All, all, all; todos, todos, todos!’ The divorced and remarried, gay people, transgender people. He wrote earlier ‘The Church is called on to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open … where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems and to move towards those who feel the need to take up again their path of faith.’

When the Synod opened in October, many of the participants shared Pope Francis’ eagerness to affirm that the Church really is for us all! It is where we should all be at ease. It was this message of hope and love which led to the foundation of those Masses in Soho twenty-five years ago.

At the Synod, this message was repeated, but it was evident that many people were nervous of it. Some participants felt uneasy at even sitting next to Father James Martin SJ, who has been for many years a brave champion of the warm inclusion of gay people in the Church. One person even refused to sit next to him. Others of us too felt the chill as I did. During the Synod, Pope Francis again signalled his welcome by publicly inviting to lunch Sister Jeanine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo, founders of the New Ways Ministry. I had lunch with them the next day and they felt enormously affirmed.

But in the document produced at the end of this first session, the Synthesis, the term LGBT+ was dropped although it has been used in other Vatican documents and by the Pope. So there seemed to be a certain retreat from the openness we had hoped for. Still the Assembly did vote almost unanimously for this proposition: ‘In different ways, people who feel marginalized or excluded from the Church because of their marriage status, identity or sexuality also ask to be heard and accompanied. There was a deep sense of love, mercy and compassion felt in the Assembly for those who are or feel hurt or neglected by the Church, who want a place to call “home” where they can feel safe, be heard and respected, without fear of feeling judged. Listening is a prerequisite for walking together in search of God’s will. The Assembly reiterates that Christians must always show respect for the dignity of every person.’ (Synthesis, 16. h)

Given that in so many countries, homosexuality is still criminalised and despised, this was encouraging. But here the Church faces a challenge to which I hope that you will be able to help us respond. The Church is called to be open to all people, whatever they love and live, and to all cultures. What if some cultures are not open to gay people? How can we embrace in the universal Church cultures which exclude people?

This issue exploded last year. On December 18th, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document called Fiducia Supplicans. I confess that, to my shame, I have not studied the text closely. It gives permission for priests in specific situations to bless people in what are usually called “irregular situations”, the divorced and remarried, gay couples. Pope Francis stressed that we all need to be blessed as we seek to find our way forward in love.

Every attempt was made to play down the crisis. The Pope accepted the document. Cardinal Ambongo maintained that the African exceptionalism was a good example of Synodality. Unity does not mean uniformity. The gospel is inculturated differently in different parts of the world.

But it is more complex than that. After the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man arguing that we had entered a new era, the triumph of Western liberal democracy. Every nation seemed destined to ‘evolve’ into our way of life. Some countries, especially in the global South, just had to catch up. If they did not agree with us on, for example, the welcome of LGBT people, they would surely do so eventually.

We were wrong. We have not the time and nor I have the expertise to analyse where we are now, but we seem to be entering a multipolar world, with the rise of Russia, China and India, and all of the BRICS countries. Many people in the Global South think of the West as having a morally decadent culture, doomed to collapse. Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa said a couple of months ago:

Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa, President of the organisation which represents all of the Catholic bishops of Africa, came to Rome to present their firm rejection of the proposal. He recognised that it was not the intention of the document to change Church teaching on sex but, he said, ‘The episcopal conferences across Africa… believe that the extra-liturgical blessings proposed in the declaration Fiducia Supplicans cannot be carried out in Africa without exposing themselves to scandal… The language of Fiducia Supplicans remains too subtle for simple people to understand.’ Never before have almost all the bishops of a continent rejected a Vatican document.

[the Westerners] will disappear. I wish them a good demise’ Putin is weaponizing the gay issue as emblematic of all that traditional culture opposes, as he seeks to spread Russian influence in other parts of the world, along with the Wagner militia. Putin is always showing his virility, taking off his shirts. He has been described as the most topless leader in the world! But this issue is also being used by Islamicist

“Little by little, they groups with Middle Eastern money, by Evangelical groups with American money “and so on.

As I said, I am no expert on this cultural battle which is being fought out everywhere, whether in the USA or Africa. I just wish, ever so briefly, to signal that the Synod faces this double challenge, of a proper gospel openness to all with an openness to all cultures. How are we to live both? This will be a major challenge for the next session of the Synod. It is not about how does our side win. That is the game of competitive politics. It is how can the Church fulfil her vocation to be the place in which all of humanity finds home and joy. Here, as St Paul says, ‘there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3.28).

My favourite image is of St Peter in John 21. They have fished all night without catching anything. Then they see a stranger on the shore who tells them to cast the net on the other side, and the net is full almost to bursting. Peter hauls the net to the shore and it contains 153 fish. This probably represents all of the nations of the world. The net is not broken. Jesus said before his death, ‘When I am lifted up, I shall draw all people to myself.’ Peter helps in this with his drawing the net to the shore to present it to Jesus.

So how are we to haul in the net without it being broken? The Church is just at the beginning of thinking about this and I hope that you will help us. A starting point is a fascinating lecture by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope. He gave it in Hong Kong in 1993 on what he called Interculturality. He argues that every culture is potentially open to the fullness of the truth. When cultures encounter each other, ideally they should be able to correct each other’s biases and share the truths they embody. So when

African and Western cultures meet, ideally both should be challenged and enriched. In one of his lectures, Albert Nolan, OP of South Africa remarked: “Our question about the impact of Christianity upon Africa will always be incomplete unless we also ask `what is the impact of Africa upon Christianity?”‘

It has been argued that if Western cultures bring a deep sense of the dignity and freedom of the individual, African cultures bring a sense of how being human is rooted in our relationships: Ubuntu. I am because we are. Asian Catholics invite us to learn the value of harmony as Latin American cultures invite us to hear the voice of the poor.

Every culture offers gifts and is challenged. The gospel is to be inculturated in every culture but it challenges every culture. So some people, like Cardinal Ambongo, will argue that homosexuality is foreign to African cultures and so cannot be welcomed. I would say that here the gospel offers a challenge.

So the encounter of cultures is at the heart of many debates in the Synod, and above all the embrace of gay people. And we have to be aware that the encounter of cultures is never just innocent. Other cultures come to Africa, for example, with guns and money. Power dynamics are at work. African bishops shared with us how deeply they feel the humiliation of aid being tied to the acceptance of Western values. Multinationals corrupt and destroy local cultures. Foreign powers do so too. Just as the hunger for gold, led to the destruction of Caribbean cultures in the sixteenth century, so does the search for rare earths and diamonds today. Remember, the strange who stood on the beach had been executed by the Imperial power of his day.

So working for a Church which truly has open doors is inseparable from addressing the ways in which countries in the Global South face unjust economic exploitation, ecological devastation and cultural destruction. No wonder we of the North are thought of as decadent. We all advance on the path to liberation together or not at all.

Forgive this short and superficial presentation. I do so wish that I could have been with you to hear what you think on these complex issues. May you have a wonderful joyful day. And pray that the Synod may open all of our hearts minds and challenge all of our prejudices.

Complete Article HERE!

Cardinal Hollerich urges caution, dialogue on women’s ordination

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the relator general of the 16th Annual General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. |

By AC Wimmer

In a new interview, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, suggested that the Church’s position on female priests is not set in stone and should be discussed further, at the same time warning of triggering “a huge backlash.”

Speaking to the official Swiss Catholic portal kath.ch on May 17, Hollerich, who is the archbishop of Luxembourg, said the prohibition against ordaining women was “not an infallible doctrinal decision” and could be changed over time with arguments.

“The way I see it, most bishops are in favor of a greater role for women in the Church,” the Jesuit cardinal said. “I am in favor of women feeling fully equal in the Church. And we will also work toward this. I don’t know if that necessarily has to include ordination to the priesthood. You can’t tie everything to the priesthood alone. That would be clericalization.”

When asked whether he thought Pope Francis would introduce female priests, Hollerich replied: “It’s very difficult to say. The pope is sometimes good for surprises.”

The archbishop of Luxemburg added: “But I would actually say no. Shortly before the synod, there was a ‘dubia’ from a few cardinals. They asked whether John Paul II’s rejection of the priesthood of women was binding for the Church. Francis replied very wisely: It is binding, but not forever. And he also said that theology would have to discuss this further.”

The cardinal, who has previously courted controversy on doctrinal matters, emphasized the need for ongoing discussion.

“It means that it is not an infallible doctrinal decision. It can be changed. It needs arguments and time,” Hollerich said.

At the same time, the Jesuit cautioned against pushing too hard for changes, noting that “if you push too much, you won’t achieve much. You have to be cautious, take one step at a time, and then you might be able to go very far.”

The interview was conducted by Jacqueline Straub, who works for the official portal of the Church in Switzerland and publicly describes herself as “called to be a Roman Catholic priest.”

Her assertion to Hollerich that women were forced to take a back seat in the Church was “based on a typically European principle of the individual,” the cardinal responded.

Citing the example of blessing homosexual couples after Fiducia Supplicans, Hollerich warned of a potentially “huge backlash” if the Vatican were to introduce the ordination of women to the priesthood.

“We have to have these discussions with the whole Church; otherwise, we will have huge problems later. Then the Catholic Church will fall apart.”

In 1994, Pope John Paul II, citing the Church’s traditional teaching, declared in the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis says U.S. conservatives have a “suicidal attitude”

Pope Francis being interviewed by CBS’ Norah O’Donnell on “60 Minutes.”

By Rebecca Falconer

Pope Francis responded to U.S. conservative bishops’ criticisms of his progressive shift to Roman Catholic Church doctrine in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” airing Sunday evening.

Details: The pope noted during the interview via a Spanish translator that the adjective “conservative” in such instances was “one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”

  • He added: “It is a suicidal attitude. Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”

Why it matters: Since being elected pope in 2013, Francis has advocated for progressive issues and moved to make the Catholic Church more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people while at the same time upholding its historical views on the sacrament of marriage — angering some conservatives in the process.

What he’s saying: During his CBS interview, Francis clarified his position on allowing priests to bless same-sex couples.

  • “What I allowed was not to bless the union,” the 87-year-old pontiff told CBS’ Norah O’Donnell. “That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. … But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone,” he added.
  • “To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why?”
  • O’Donnell noted that the pope had previously said that “homosexuality is not a crime,” to which Francis replied: “It is a human fact.”

Zoom in: The pope also criticized Texas officials’ efforts to shut down a Catholic charity that offers undocumented immigrants humanitarian assistance as part of a wider crackdown at the state’s border with Mexico.

  • “That is madness. Sheer madness. To close the border and leave them there, that is madness,” he said.
  • “The migrant has to be received. Thereafter you see how you are going to deal with him. Maybe you have to send him back, I don’t know, but each case ought to be considered humanely.”

On surrogacy, the pontiff said in the “strictest sense of the term” it is not authorized by Vatican doctrine.

  • But when O’Donnell noted sometimes this was the only hope for women, Francis replied: “It could be. The other hope is adoption.”
  • He said in each case the situation “should be carefully and clearly considered, consulting medically and then morally as well.”
  • The pope said he thinks there’s a general rule in these cases, “but you have to go into each case in particular to assess the situation, as long as the moral principle is not skirted.”
  • He then told O’Donnell she was right in her assertion. “I really liked your expression when you told me, ‘In some cases it is the only chance,'” he said. “It shows that you feel these things very deeply.”

Complete Article HERE!