Building a Bridge: Reaching out to LGBTQ Catholics

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Reverend James Martin presented a virtual colloquium entitled “Building a Bridge: Reaching out to LGBTQ Catholics.”

Rev. Martin is a Jesuit priest, author and editor-at-large at American Media. He has a Masters degree in Divinity, a Masters degree in Theology and even an honorary degree from Sacred Heart University in 2010.

During this colloquium, Martin described in detail the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church. Martin visited Sacred Heart two years ago to give a similar presentation, both of which were connected to his book “Building a Bridge.”

“Rev. Martin’s message is based upon the Gospel’s message to love and on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, whose claims are to respect the dignity of every human being and to work for the common good,” said Dr. Michelle Loris, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences as well as Chair of the Catholic Studies Department.

In order to build a bridge between the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church needs to be open to listening in order for people to feel welcome in the church community.

In addition to listening to and being open-minded toward LGBTQ indiviuals in the Catholic church, there needs to be a reminder that these individuals have suffered or are currently suffering in some way. Martin mentioned many statistics regarding LGBTQ youth and the rates at which they are harmed.

“Never forget how much LGBTQ people have suffered,” said Martin.

Martin also detailed how LGBTQ youth are three times more likely to contemplate suicide than their straight counterparts, and five times more likely to have actually attempted suicide. This is according to the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

“I think that Rev. Martin’s goal is to bring as many voices together from within the Church as possible, and to facilitate a conversation that leads everyone to arrive at the same basic truth: that we are all deserving of love and respect,” said Keith Johnston, Director of Performing Arts and Director of Band and Orchestra. “That seems a simple truth, yes? Not everyone agrees.”

Two years ago when Rev. Martin first spoke at Sacred Heart, there were letters sent to the school complaining about the presentation, as well as protestors trying to make a statement against the presentation. However, these protests didn’t stop the university from having Rev. Martin present not once, but twice.

“Some students said they were pleased to see that Sacred Heart University is a university that takes a stand to embrace the LGBTQ community,” said Loris.

Many LGBTQ Catholics fear coming out because they are afraid of not being loved by their friends, families or even God. The fear of being rejected can cause people of the LGBTQ community to leave the Catholic Church community.

“They bring joy, energy and life to our world, our church and our campuses. They are God’s beloved children,” said Martin.

Martin outlined a few different points on how to help build a bridge between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community. A couple of his points included educating yourself as well as your school and standing with those who are a part of the LGBTQ community.

“We need to stand firm in our support for people that are really on the margins,” said Martin.

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