On April 24, 2017, St. Cecilia Church in Boston will host a talk by James Martin S.J. The Parish is home to St. Cecelia’s Rainbow Ministry. The gay-affirmative Ministry at St. Cecilia’s has been contentious since at least 2011 when the Archdiocese apparently made some effort to curtail the group’s activities only to later relent. According to the Rainbow Ministry:
Saint Cecilia Parish welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics to worship God, to fully participate in the life of this community, and to speak openly in an environment that is safe, loving, and supportive. The Saint Cecilia Rainbow Ministry desires to help LGBT Catholics seek reconciliation with the Church.
The Ministry maintains a Facebook page; in 2015, they praised The National Catholic Reporter for choosing a married same-sex couple as their “Persons of the Year.” Earlier that same year, they posted an icon and description of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus from “gay” Franciscan Robert Lentz, OFM. According to the post:
Recent attention to early Greek manuscripts has also revealed that they [Sergius and Bacchus] were openly gay men and that they were erastai or lovers. These manuscripts are found in various libraries in Europe and suggest an earlier Christian acceptance of homosexuality.
Also in 2015, before the Obergefell decision, the Ministry posted the following message:
We must remain vigilant in our pursuit of LGBT rights. As this article reminds us, “If the court legalizes same-sex marriage, gays and lesbians will still lack equal protection under the law. In 29 states — 32 for transgendered people — nothing will prevent them from being fired or denied housing or other public accommodations due to their sexual orientation because the states don’t have nondiscrimination laws.”
Following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US, The Boston Globe featured the Parish in a story and talked with several parishioners who “cheered the court’s ruling.”
The Ministry posted a short commercial produced by The Ad Council titled “Love Has No Labels.” The spot featured several same-sex couples kissing; the Rainbow Ministry added: “What we believe. Articulated beautifully — without words.”
The Ministry outreaches at Boston “Pride” under the banner: “I am a proud LGBT Catholic and I pray the Church would love me more…”
In 2017, Joe Quinn, OFM, spoke at the Parish as a part of the Rainbow Ministry’s “Lenten Speaker Series.” Quinn is the head of the LGBTQ Spirituality Group at the St. Antony Shrine in downtown Boston.
The Shrine is staffed and overseen by the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Name Province; their Provincial Office is located in New York City. The Friars also operate dissident gay-affirmative ministries at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the Archdiocese of New York, at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church in Hartford Connecticut, and at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh. The LGBTQ Spirituality Group at the St. Anthony Shrine has held discussions on “Queer Theology,” and Quinn was one of the signatories on a Call To Action petition which called for changes regarding language in the Catechism referencing homosexuality.
Past invited speakers at the Rainbow Ministry include Matt Malone S.J., the editor and chief of America magazine and “gay” Professor H. John McDargh from the nearby Jesuit-run Boston College. According to an article about McDargh which appeared in a Boston College student newspaper:
At Harvard, he said he learned what it felt like to “be on the margin.” He fell in love with his costar in a theater group, a man named Michael. Though he is homosexual, McDargh said he never felt ostracized from religion. “The reason I never felt like same sex attraction is unnatural is because when I met Michael, I felt like a duck in the Sahara, who had suddenly been brought to the Mediterranean, and said, ‘Oh, that’s what webbed feet are for,’” he said.
At Harvard, McDargh met his partner of 30 years and expanded his knowledge of different views of God by occasionally attending Evangelist masses. He was offered a job at Boston College in 1979, where he has worked since.
Earlier this year, Martin spoke to the dissident Out At St Paul LGBT ministry at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City. Recently, Out At St Paul promoted an article about “Queer Theology” which included the following statement:
Whether a relationship lasts a lifetime or only a few minutes, what might it mean to see the Christ in each person we encounter? For some people that will look like decades of monogamous togetherness, for others that might mean a kinky romp in a dungeon complete with paddles and consensual name-calling.”
James Martin was recently appointed as a consultor to the Vatican’s Communications Office.