On July 16, 2017, James Martin, S.J., addressed the LGBT Ministry, Out at St. Paul, located at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in New York City. 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, “Vogue” dance classes, a “gay” Jesus, 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 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.
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 which was sponsored by Out at St. Paul and St. Paul the Apostle Parish. The videos feature testimonies from several Out At St. Paul 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. Warren has since been suspended and in 2017 he wrote:
…I could not in good conscience take the Oath of Fidelity that all priests take upon ordination and when assuming a pastorate, namely, that I “accept and hold everything that is proposed by the hierarchy” and that I “adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings.”
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.’”
Literally front and center in the “Owning Our Faith” promotional photos for the series is Xorje Olivares. A New York City based writer, blogger and radio host, Olivares is featured in both the “Owning Our Faith” documentary and in an extended interview. Olivares recently interviewed James Martin for Vice.com, was featured along with Martin in a segment of ABC’s “Nightline,” and he interviewed Martin for the July live-event at St. Paul the Apostle.
In “Owning Our Faith,” Olivares said:
It’s what God wanted me to be. I’ve always felt that way. I’ve always felt that if God had wanted me to be straight then I would have been straight. If God wanted me to be gay then He chose for me to be gay.
I’m not necessarily frustrated with the Catholic Church in terms of what they are saying with regards to LGBT people or just gay marriage as a whole because I think we as LGBT people need to understand that this is [a] several thousand year old institution and change is coming…We should ask other LGBT Catholics to understand that it’s just an education process. Once we tell that Church that we’re here then maybe conversation will be different…It’s a two-way street.
James Martin has repeatedly said to homosexuals that: “God made you this way.”
We’re still taking our first tentative steps. Before, you had to use coded words like “spectrum” or “welcome” when it came to LGBTQ outreach groups in parishes. Of course, in some dioceses and parishes, you can barely use terms like “gay” or “LGBTQ.” And others are pretty far along on the bridge already.
Writing about St. Paul the Apostle Parish, in an interview with Martin, Olivares wrote:
Thankfully, New York City affords my church gays and me the opportunity to live and pray as freely as we wish. And while we’re blessed to have a way of expressing our sexuality and spirituality, you’ll find no shortage of queer Catholics nationwide who fear persecution from their clergymen and congregations.
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.
Martin had contended that the Catholic Church treats sexually active homosexuals differently from heterosexuals who engage, for example, in premarital sex:
To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a “sign of unjust discrimination.”
According to Olivares’ Facebook page, he is currently “In Relationship” with another man.
In a 2016 article for Vice.com titled “How to Be Gay in the Catholic Church,” Olivares wrote:
Lord knows that I love dick… and He has for quite some time. In fact, it’s been His will for roughly 29 years that I should solely find members of my sex attractive, and engage in physical (and often deeply spiritual) relationships with them in hopes of finding love. Who am I, a God-fearing Catholic, to question that? Jesus said to love my neighbor, and I can’t help that Grindr says the nearest one is 264 feet away.
Grindr is a geosocial networking app catering to “gay” men designed to facilitate sexual encounters with other men in their area.
[Update: In August 2018, both James Martin and Xorje Olivares traveled to Dublin, Ireland for the World Meeting of Families where Martin is a Featured Speaker, addressing the LGBT issue. On August 20, 2018, Out at St. Paul posted the following to their Facebook account: “Say a prayer for OSP ministry team member Xorje Olivares and Fr. James Martin, SJ, who will both be traveling to the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Ireland to speak on LGBTQ Catholic experience and ministry.” On Olivares’ Facebook post announcing his departure for Dublin, Martin wrote: “See you there!”]