06 February 2024, The Tablet

Fiducia Supplicans is ‘unifying document’ says Fr James Martin SJ

Fiducia Supplicans is ‘unifying document’ says Fr James Martin SJ

Father James Martin SJ, pictured when he spoke at the world meeting of families in Dublin.

American priest Fr James Martin SJ has expressed his gratitude to the Irish Bishops Conference for inviting him to speak to them at Knock Shrine last week, the first time an entire bishops’ conference has been addressed by the LGBTQ advocate.

Speaking to The Tablet, Fr Martin explained that while he had spoken at the invitation of bishops in various dioceses in the past and to groups of bishops, he had not spoken to an entire bishops’ conference at once. The Knock meeting was one of his first talks following the publication of Fiducia Supplicans.

While he would not divulge what was said at the meeting, this confidentiality had allowed the Irish bishops to speak freely, he said he felt welcomed and listened to by all of the bishops.

“I was very grateful for their warm welcome, their kindness to me and their gracious Irish hospitality. They could not have been more friendly.”

Speaking about Fiducia Supplicans, Fr Martin described the document as a pastoral outreach to a group of people who have long been marginalised and excluded from their own Church.

“My sense is that the document means what it says: priests can, under certain circumstances, bless same-sex couples. And we should note that this phrase is in the document: same-sex couples. So, it is not merely two people who happen to be standing together in front of a priest, but a couple.”

He said the document had overnight helped bring many LGBTQ people closer to the Church. 

“While this may be a small group in terms of numbers, when you consider their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, as well as their friends, co-workers and allies, this is a much, much larger group. So Fiducia Supplicans is a unifying document in that it brings those from the outside in.”

Acknowledging the opposition to the document of some bishops, notably in Africa, he said it also has the potential to divide.

“It’s important to be sensitive to these cultural concerns, but it is equally important to be sensitive to the pastoral needs of LGBTQ Catholics,” he said.  

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