On Monday, Pope Francis met with Jesuit Father James Martin, an American priest who has dedicated most of the past three years to ministering to LGBT Catholics, whom he describes as the “most marginalised group” in the Catholic Church.
Francis and Martin spoke for half an hour, in between two other meetings the pope had that day: The conference of bishops from the Pacific, currently in Rome for their regular ad limina pilgrimage to the Holy See, and a delegation of missionary institutes founded in Italy.
Speaking with Crux, Martin said that the pontiff was an “incredibly attentive listener” who, based on the questions he asked his fellow Jesuit, “clearly cares for” LGBT people.
Martin is the author of the 2017 book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.
According to New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group for LGBT Catholics, the meeting “refutes the unjustified barrage of criticism [Martin] has received from a minority of church leaders and other anti-LGBTQ sectors of the church.”
“It is a clear signal that Pope Francis is calling the church to conversion away from the negative messages it has sent in the past about LGBTQ people,” the group said in a statement released on Monday. “It is a day of celebration for LGBTQ Catholics who have longed for an outstretched hand of welcome from the church that they love.”
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With thanks to Crux and Inés San Martín, where this article originally appeared.