On March 6, 2018, Jesuit James Martin released a new promotional video introducing the Revised and Expanded edition of his controversial book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” He states that the new edition contains “more stories…stories from LGBT Catholics that I’ve met.” He includes six of those “stories;” one in particular concerns his friend Mark; in a recent interview with America Magazine, Martin said:
One of my oldest friends is a gay man named Mark, who was once a member of a Catholic religious order. About 20 years ago, after Mark left the order, he came out as a gay man and began living with his partner, with whom he is now legally married. His partner has a serious, long-term illness, and Mark has cared for him for many years with great devotion and loving-kindness.
What can we learn from Mark about love?
In the promotional video, when Martin describes Mark’s relationship with another man, an image (see above) of two men wearing wedding rings and holding hands appears on the screen. Later, several scenes from the “Owning Our Faith” video series produced by the “Out at St. Paul” LGBT ministry, hosted by the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, are incorporated into Martin’s video; they include a shot (see below) of the Catholic parish during Mass, with the same-sex “married” couple, Rick and Matt Vidal, holding hands; the couple are prominently featured in the initial “Owning Our Faith” video which highlighted the testimonies of several Out At St. Paul members. In the couple’s video interview, Matt Vidal stated:
If we leave it, if we abandon the Church then it’s never going to change. So we have to continue living here, being an example and encouraging other people to be that example because that’s what’s going to change the Church.
During his August 29, 2017 visit to Villanova University, James Martin spoke with gay Catholic journalist Brandon Ambrosino. In his interview with Martin, Ambrosino shared some of his struggles about being gay and Catholic; Ambrosino is a graduate student in theology at Villanova and currently engaged to his same-sex partner. In particular, Ambrosino mentioned the anxiety he experienced over his own personal reluctance to express physical affection for his partner in church during the “kiss of peace.” Martin sympathized and said:
…So I hope in ten years you will be able to kiss your partner or soon to be your husband. Why not? What’s the terrible thing?
Another young man who is pictured (see below) in the Martin promo video is Matthew Putorti. In his video testimony for “Owning Our Faith,” he said:
I think what’s interesting is that the Catholic Church probably thinks that it is accepting of gay people, because its message is ‘gay people exist and we should love them and not discriminate against them. But because the Church also tells gay people essentially that they need to be celibate, what the Church is saying is ‘you cannot live fully. You can be gay but you can’t live that life.’ And so that inherently is discriminatory.
Xorje Olivares, also pictured (see below) in Martin’s promo video, is a prominent member of “Out at St. Paul” and an outspoken gay advocate and blogger.
I never felt this call to be celibate. I was surrounded by straight people and all the good kids were going to church, but you knew they were having sex anyway. So why do they get a pass but people like me don’t? I thought, well if he said God created me this way, then what issue would be taken with however way I choose to express myself? Now that I’ve become part of the particular church group that I’m in, this conversation about how unrealistic it is for LGBTQ+ people to be called to the celibate life when no one else is adhering to that. Straight people within the church are trying to control our lives because they want to be able to control it and make our sexuality more palatable for them, but more difficult for us to actually live it.
On July 16, 2017, James Martin, addressed “Out at St. Paul;” he had previously spoken to the group on March 2, 2017. In the past, Out at St. Paul sponsored and promoted a Mass at the site of the Stonewall Riots, “countertraditions” to Adam and Eve, and an outing to a local gay bar. On several occasions, Martin has recommended both the Parish and Out at St. Paul (see video interview, and a Facebook live discussion.) Following his July appearance at Out at St Paul, to publicize the first edition of “Building a Bridge” Martin posted pictures to his Facebook account from the event and thanked the following:
Thanks to Fr. Gil Martinez, CSP, the pastor; Xorje Olivares and everyone at “Out at St. Paul’s,” the LGBT outreach group at the parish; and everyone who came to the “Building a Bridge” event tonight.
Martinez is the Pastor at St. Paul the Apostle and the chaplain for Out at St. Paul. He had been an outspoken supporter of the group, specifically promoting the “Owning Our Faith” video series. In addition to Out At St. Paul Members, the series also includes interviews with dissident nun Jeannine Gramick who was officially sanctioned by the Vatican in 1999 and permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexuals and Warren Hall, a self-outed “gay” priest.