Prominent American Jesuit Fr James Martin SJ has offered a blueprint to ease long-existent tensions between the LGBT community and the US Church, reports NCR Online.
Under his proposal, outlined last weekend, priests and bishops would become more comfortable accompanying gay and lesbian people — and actually using those terms — while LGBT persons would offer clergy "the gift of time" to get to know them.
Those steps were part of a larger remedy of mutual respect, compassion and sensitivity Fr Martin outlined in a lecture at a gathering of New Ways Ministry, in Pikesville, Maryland.
The national Catholic LGBT advocacy group was honouring him with its Bridge Building Award, which, according to its website, recognises people "who by their scholarship, leadership, or witness have promoted discussion, understanding, and reconciliation between the lesbian/gay community and the Catholic Church."
Fr Martin picked up the bridge theme in his lecture, titled A Two-Way Bridge, in which he proposed a way forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and the Church to address their more-often-than-not contentious and combative interactions.
But as the title suggested, his advice cut both ways, first charting the lane for the hierarchical Church before addressing the opposite side he suggested LGBT persons follow. At several points in his speech, Fr Martin acknowledged that his message to the LGBT community "may be hard to hear for people who feel beaten down by the Church."
Photo: Fr Martin in 2011 by the "Bay of Parables" at the Sea of Galilee (CNS/James Martin)