The Vatican listed the audience with Father James Martin among the pope’s activities, in a sign that Francis wanted it publicised.
Since only some of Francis’ private meetings are announced, the implicit message was a public vote of confidence in Fr Martin’s ministry.
Fr Martin, author of Building A Bridge, a book about how the Catholic Church should reach out more to the LGBT community, has had several talks cancelled in the United States because of pressure from conservative groups who oppose his advocacy.
The Vatican under Francis has welcomed him, however, appointing him as a communications consultant, giving him a speaking slot at a 2018 Vatican-sponsored family rally, and now, a private papal audience.
In a tweet on Monday, Fr Martin said that during the 30-minute meeting, he shared with Francis “the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide”.
In a telephone interview, Fr Martin said Francis listened intently to his presentation, delivered in Spanish, about the struggles of LGBT Catholics “and how many of them still feel marginalised” by the church.
“I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by our meeting,” he said.
“It was like talking to the most compassionate parish priest you can imagine.”
Official church teaching calls for gay men and lesbians to be respected and loved, but considers homosexual activity…
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