Pope Francis praises Jesuit priest for defending, working for LGBTQ Americans

Tue. June 29, 2021 11:25 AM by Gerald Farinas

rev. james martin is most popularly known as father jim

photo credit // twitter.com

Father Jim is seen as communicating the Pope's support of LGBTQ persons outside the confines of Vatican leadership

New York City - Rev. James Martin, SJ—popularly known as Father Jim—has gained the respect of theologians and Christian leaders as being one of the chief defenders of LGBTQ rights in the Church. He has also been decried as a heretic and banned from speaking at several Catholic institutions.

Pope Francis has signaled his support of LGBTQ people—against a backdrop of an intensely anti-LGBTQ Vatican leadership—through a letter supporting Father Jim's work.

“I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people, with the closeness that Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God,” Pope Francis wrote to Father Jim regarding his Outreach LGBT Ministry Conference.

“Thinking about your pastoral work, I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God. You are a priest for all men and women,” the supreme pontiff continued.

Father Jim wrote Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivty in 2017 and was then pilloried by members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conservative blogs like Catholic Militant.

Francis-appointee Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, invited Father Jim to speak at Holy Name Cathedral when a theological school at the Catholic University of America disinvited him.

Most Rev. Thomas Paprocki, bishop of Springfield, Ill. wrote a letter to his diocese in 2019 that “Father Martin's public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God's law."

Paprocki further said, “This matter is not one of opinion, it is our Lord's own teaching."

The anti-LGBTQ bishop Paprocki famously presided over an exorcism of the State of Illinois as it considered passage of marriage equality.

Father Jim is seen as Pope Francis' chief aide in communicating support of certain issues—like LGBTQ dignity—as he continues to battle Vatican insiders who are dead set on maintaining Church tradition.

The 60 year-old priest was born outside of Philadelphia, Penn. A Wharton School of Business graduate, he worked in the corporate world before being inspired to leave it all to join the Society of Jesus—a religious order of educators, more commonly known as the Jesuits.

Father Jim received his M.A. in philosophy in 1994 from Loyola University Chicago—before receiving a Master's degree in Divinity and becoming ordained to the priesthood in 1999.

In pop culture, Father Jim was introduced to a national audience as chaplain of Comedy Central talk show, The Colbert Report.