A pro-LGBT+ Catholic priest has condemned a homophobic act of vandalism against a gay pastoral associate, whose church office was broken into by unidentified thugs who then spray-painted the words “no fags” on a wall.
James Martin, a US Jesuit priest, wrote about the episode in a post published on Facebook on Tuesday (October 16), identifying the church worker as a man called Aaron from a parish in California.
Martin said the incident was “result of the relentless homophobia and hatred being peddled in some quarters of the Catholic Church today.”
“The doors of his church have been set on fire, and yesterday the church offices were broken into, and this was spray painted on the wall,” Martin wrote.
The break-in wasn’t the first intimidatory episode against the pastoral associate, the priest explained.
“Aaron’s tires have been slashed; he has received threatening emails (some 60 over the last two months), including death threats; letters on his car have been left, one saying, ‘Sodomites not welcome in the church.’
“One man physically attacked him at the end of Mass, and had to be prevented by other parishioners from hurting him. This is what hate does, especially the kind of hate whipped up online.”
Martin called for solidarity from the Church against this hatred. “Our bishops must stand up to this kind of hatred,” he wrote, “We must all take a stand against this.”
PinkNews has contacted Martin for comment.
In August, Martin made a presentation about welcoming LGBT+ families into parishes at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, which was believed to be the first ever explicitly LGBT+ event organised by the Vatican.
Speaking to PinkNews in July, Martin said he is impassioned about including LGBT+ people in the church.
“The main reason that I’ve become involved in LGBT issues is because LGBT people are part of the church, and so they deserve to be cared for,” he said.
“They are also the most marginalised group in the Catholic Church and for that reason they deserve special care and attention.”
Martin said that the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre signalled a turning point for him, and that he wrote his book out of frustration with the response the church offered to the one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
“What alarmed me at the time was that very few Catholic bishops publicly expressed any compassion after the shootings – in contrast to what happens in almost every other public tragedy,” Martin told PinkNews.
“The lack of solidarity seemed to reveal that even in death LGBT people are largely invisible in the church.”
Martin published a book—Building a Bridge—in June 2017, which called for respect between the LGBT+ community and the Catholic Church.