In honor of the Advent season, the Paulist Fathers offered LGBTQ “Advent Reflections” for the year 2020. Each reflection, was written by a member of the Paulist LGBTQ outreach ministry – Out at St. Paul (OSP); headquartered in New York City at the Paulist motherhouse St. Paul the Apostle Church. Commenting on a daily reading from Scripture, featured in the Liturgy, the reflections are oftentimes related to issues facing “LGBTQ Catholics,” who, in the words of one of the authors claims that:
Part of the exhaustion tied with being a queer Catholic is from trying to make sense of the discomfort our faith has made us feel about ourselves and our sexual and gender identities. That’s all tied to antiquated doctrine and the harsh rhetoric of those somehow chosen to serve in authoritative roles within the Church’s hierarchy.
Another author, commenting on Luke’s description of the Annunciation, wrote:
For LGBTQ people, a personal reflection on this Gospel passage might bring us back to the fear we had when God first revealed that God’s plan for us included an LGBTQ identity. Whether you accepted the LGBTQ aspect of God’s plan immediately, it took you some time, or you are still in the process of fully accepting it, let us channel Mary’s model of courage, love, and trust as God continues to reveal Godself to us.
And, yet another commentor discussed the Annunciation:
LGBTQ people know what it is to make plans for our lives, only to have truth show up and throw the whole thing off…But in this season of Mary’s wild pregnancy (disordered before the people of Nazareth!)
let us lean instead into her Yes.
God has offered us the gift of who we are.
May it be done to us according to God’s word.
Concerning Mary’s “Magnificat,” one author wrote:
Her words correct any misunderstanding of her “fiat” (Lk 1:38) as passive, naïve, or uninformed. May we (especially women) speak with authority about our experiences of queer love and queer commitment, not least to a church that regularly denies them.
OSP has a long history of gay-affirmative pastoral practices and public statements in support of same-sex marriage. On March 22, 2017, Out at St. Paul hosted a “Spring Social” at the Hell’s Kitchen gay bar Bottoms Up. In the past, Out at St. Paul sponsored and promoted “your favorite queer saint,” “countertraditions” to Adam and Eve, and “Christian” theories in support of same-sex marriage.
On August 3, 2018, OSP posted the following message to their official Facebook page:
Yesterday, Pope Francis declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases. It shows us that Catholic teaching can and does change over time (or, “develop,” using theological terminology). Pope Francis specifically called for the language in the catechism to be altered. He has the power to recognize other “developments” in doctrine as well.
This is why we push for the language about LGBTQ people in the catechism to change. We are not, and have never been, “intrinsically disordered.” It is time for the Church to listen to LGBTQ believers and recognize the harm that its official doctrine has caused to millions of people around the world.
Out at St. Paul is a favorite of Jesuit priest James Martin. On July 16, 2017, Martin, addressed Out at St. Paul; he previously spoke to the group on March 2, 2017. On several occasions, Martin has recommended both the Parish and OSP (see video interview, and a Facebook live discussion.) Following his July 2017 appearance at OSP, to publicize his latest book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” 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.
On June 15, 2017, Martin recommended Out at St. Paul on his official Twitter account.
On his Facebook page, Martin wrote:
Dear friends: “Out at St. Paul” is one of the most dynamic Catholic LGBT ministries in the country, and probably the world. It is a ministry of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, just next door to our Jesuit community. They shared this video with me and asked me to share it with you. May it give hope to parishes who are striving to be welcoming places for everyone.
Gil Martinez was the former chaplain for Out at St. Paul. He had been an outspoken supporter of the group, specifically promoting the “Owning Our Faith” video series which was sponsored by OSP and St. Paul the Apostle Parish. In 2015, Martinez traveled to Rome and personally gave a copy of the video “Owning Our Faith” to both Pope Francis and Cardinal Walter Kasper. On March 5, 2018, Cardinal Kasper celebrated Mass at St. Paul the Apostle. The video features testimonies from several OSP members as well as “gay” and transgender advocates including 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. Also included is an interview with a “gay” married couple, one of whom 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.
And another “gay” man who 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.
Excerpts from “Owing Our Faith” are included in a video from James Martin, in which he addresses “5 common questions about ‘Building a Bridge.’”
On July 1, 2018, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles approved Martinez as Pastor at the Paulist parish St. Paul the Apostle in Los Angeles.
In 2019, Martinez returned to New York City to celebrate Mass for Out at St. Paul in front of the building where the Stonewall Riots occurred in 1969.
On June 28, 2020, Paulist priest Rick Walsh offered “a reflection” entitled “We All Belong to Each Other” at St Paul the Apostle Church; on June 25, 2020, Walsh also was the “celebrant” for the parish’s Pride Mass sponsored by OSP. During his “reflection” Walsh said:
Some say that those of us who are LGBTQ members if Christ’s body do not belong to the body of Christ; totally denying our baptism.
Are they not aware that we who are LGBTQ are also living now in Christ?
That we are Christ.
Christ is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.
In Christ, I am lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.