Pope Francis greets Jesuit Father James Martin, author and editor at large of America magazine, during a private meeting at the Vatican in this Oct. 1, 2019, file photo. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

    Pope Francis has sparked controversy in Catholic circles by sending a congratulatory note in his own handwriting to Fr. James Martin, S.J., praising Fr. Martin for his ministry of outreach to lesbians, bisexuals, gays, and transgenders, since the late 1980s placed together under the acronym “LBGT” (link).

    The letter has sparked controversy, with a number of Catholics expressing concern that the Pope in his letter strongly supports Fr. Martin’s ministry though, they contend, the ministry focuses on affirming these various sexualities and sexual self-identifications in a way not in keeping with traditional Catholic teaching on sexual morals.

    In writing the letter in this way, these Catholics argue, Pope Francis is giving the impression that he is unconcerned about these traditional moral teachings, and so also about how these teaching do express a profound, true love and deep concern for the happiness of individual persons, and further arguing that every Pope, as a central part of his ministry and office, should strongly defend these teachings for this reason.

    Here are links to stories on this letter: link, link, link, and link.  

    Below, a copy of the letter that Pope Francis recently wrote and sent to his fellow Jesuit, Fr. James Martin. The letter is in Spanish. The full text of the letter is translated into English below.

6.21.2021

    R.P. James Martin, SJ

    Dear brother:

    Thank you for your note and for the photos. Please thank your nephew for his kindness to me and for having chosen the name Francisco … and congratulate him on the socks … that made me laugh. Tell him that I pray for him and, please, ask him to do so for me.

    Regarding your PS [about the Outreach LGBT Ministry Conference] I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people, with the closeness that Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God. Our Heavenly Father comes close with love to each one of his children, each and everyone. His heart is open to each and everyone. He is a Father. God’s “style” has three elements: closeness, compassion and tenderness. This is how he comes closer to each one of us.

    Thinking about your pastoral work, I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God. You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a Father for all men and women. I pray for you to continue in this way, being close, compassionate and with great tenderness.

    And I pray for your faithful, your “flock,” and all those whom the Lord places in your care, so that you protect them, and make them grow in the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Please don’t forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin protect you.

Fraternally,

Francisco

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