Building a Bridge

by Fr James Martin SJ, Harper One, £15.99

Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay

by Daniel Mattson, Ignatius Press, £14.99

In more than 40 years of priesthood, ministering to gay Catholics at Cardinal Nichols’s invitation has been one of my most daunting tasks. This is because of the deep feelings of pain and rejection by the Church I have encountered, as well as the fear and anger of others over the very existence of homosexual people.

Quite conservative senior clerics have told me privately they worry we simply have the wrong approach to the whole issue. Yet if we believe there is truth in the Church’s teaching, however imperfectly it may currently be expressed, then surely one way forward is to offer LGBT people, if they will not accept this teaching on its own authority, some tools to make an authentic discernment of their personal experiences of sex and erotic attraction. Among such tools a sound moral theology and a spiritual discipline are paramount.

I found it strange, therefore, that the Jesuit Fr James Martin’s Building a Bridge, a plea for greater compassion and openness to LGBT people by the Church, makes no reference to Ignatian discernment of spirits, or to any of the moral issues raised by homosexuality. Given the huge variety of attitudes, experiences and behaviour among gay Catholics, introducing them to St Ignatius’s teaching on consolation and desolation, and helping them apply that to their past experiences, present relationships and desires for the future, can be little short of a revelation for them.

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