Fr. James Martin to give keynote at World Meeting of Families

Father James Martin Father James Martin, S.J., speaks at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on August 23, 2018. | Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

The World Meeting of Families being held in Dublin this August will include a presentation from American author Fr. James Martin, S.J., who will discuss ways "parishes can support families with members who identify as LGBTI+."

Fr. Martin's presentation was included among the highlights of the event during a June 11 press conference in Maynooth, about 20 miles west of Dublin. Another highlighted address is on the meaning of Pope Francis' phrase "throwaway culture," by Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila.

The World Meeting of Families will be held in Aug. 21-26 with the theme "The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World." It is organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and will include the participation of Pope Francis.

Fr. Martin is an editor at America Magazine, and in 2017 was appointed a consultor to the Vatican Secretariat for Communications.

He is also author of "Building a Bridge," which addresses the Church's engagement with those who identify as LGBT and which has drawn significant criticism.

Some critics say the book does not directly address Catholic teaching on celibacy and chastity or engage with Catholics who identify as LGBT while observing the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Martin has suggested that same-sex attraction should be referred to as "differently ordered" rather than "intrinsically disordered," as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states.

"We have to be sensitive to the language we use. We can't pretend that language like that isn't harmful," Fr. Martin told CNA in September 2017.

The priest's book has drawn praise from Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, as well as Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who said the book "marks an essential step in inviting Church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our Church as any other Catholic."

New Ways Ministry, a dissenting Catholic group that has been the subject of warnings from the U.S. bishops and the Vatican for confusing Catholic teaching, awarded Fr. Martin in 2016 for having "helped to expand the dialogue on LGBT issues in the Catholic Church."

In September 2017, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia wrote an essay saying that "perceived ambiguities in some of Fr. Martin's views on sexuality have created much of the apprehension and criticism surrounding his book. There's nothing vindictive in respectfully but firmly challenging those inadequacies. Doing less would violate both justice and charity."

"Clear judgment, tempered by mercy but faithful to Scripture and constant Church teaching, is an obligation of Catholic discipleship – especially on moral issues, and especially in Catholic scholarship," the archbishop added.

The Irish government has exerted pressure on the World Meeting of Families, with one government minister warning it should not express "intolerance" of LBGT groups or same-sex couples.

"There should be a welcome for all. And never again should public statements or remarks which seek to isolate certain families be tolerated," said Katherine Zappone, the Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, according to the Irish Times.

Cardinal Farrell has noted his hopes for the meeting, saying that the event should revitalize family life and will not exclude anyone.

"This encounter… is to promote the Christian concept of marriage, and the Catholic concept of marriage, and will focus on that. All people are invited, we don't exclude anybody," stated Cardinal Farrell.

Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia is the guiding theme of the World Meeting of Families and of all the topics chosen for presentation during the event.

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In a May 2017 interview with CNA, Cardinal Farrell had said in reference to Amoris laetitia that the document is about the beauty of marriage and the family, and that "we need to say what our teaching is, and that's not a yes and no answer."

The World Meeting of Families developed after St. John Paul II requested an international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration for families. The first took place in Rome in 1994. It is held every three years.

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