28 June 2023, The Tablet

Outreach conference combats anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

“To marginalize is a sin. To love is our command,” said Tania Tetlow, president of Fordham University.

Outreach conference combats anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

Fr James Martin SJ, speaking in 2012. Pope Francis wrote to Fr Martin sending his best wishes to participants in the Outreach conference.
Shawn/flickr | Creative Commons

The annual Outreach Conference for LGBTQ Catholics and those who minister to them was held at Fordham University on 16-18 June.

Outreach is an online news and opinion website affiliated with Jesuit-run America magazine and both the site and the conference are the brainchild of Fr James Martin SJ, a leading advocate of pastoral ministries to gay Catholics.

Tania Tetlow, the president of Fordham, welcomed the group to the university’s Lincoln Centre campus.

“To marginalise is a sin. To love is our command,” she told the attendees.

“You are loved by the church made up of the People of God – the Church we claim, the Church we fight for, because we know it must constantly strive to better live up to the Gospels.”

Chilean sex abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, who has formed a close, personal friendship with Pope Francis, also addressed the gathering.

He noted that there are “certain bishops who perpetuate harmful rhetoric and prejudiced doctrines” but that “it’s crucial to remember that these discriminatory attitudes held by some bishops do not represent the entirety of the Catholic Church, but their impact on the LGBTQ+ community cannot be understated”.

He noted that such the behaviour of such prelates “stands in stark contrast to Pope Francis’ call for acceptance and love”.

The Pope sent Fr Martin a note extending his “best wishes” to the conference participants.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, also sent a note welcoming the conference attendees.

“It is the sacred duty of the Church and her ministers to reach out to those on the periphery and draw them to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church,” he wrote. He added that Outreach and its conference is a “vital and important ministry.”

Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico presided at the conference’s closing Mass.

“I believe that your coming together is a very important way to bring our church closer and closer, to be one,” he said.

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