Pope Francis has written his encouragement to a senior member of the Catholic Church for his work in supporting the LGBTQ community, although the Vatican only this year refused to bless the “sin” of same-sex marriage.
The Pope wrote to Reverend James Martin to thank him for his “pastoral zeal and ability to be close to people”, in relation to his Outreach LGBT Ministry Conference work.
“Our Heavenly Father comes close with love to each one of his children… His heart is open to each and every one,” the Pope wrote in a handwritten letter.
“You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a Father for all men and women.
“I pray for you to continue in this way, being close, compassionate and with great tenderness.”
Liberal Catholics have found the Pope’s seemingly varying stance on homosexuality “disorienting”, according to The New York Times.
Just months ago, the Vatican declared that it would not bless same-sex marriage, saying in a statement, “God does not and cannot bless sin.”
While churches in some countries have nevertheless blessed gay unions – though not marriages – some conservative Catholics have expressed concern over the trend.
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of the gay Catholic group New Ways Ministry, called the March announcement “disappointing”, ABC News reported at the time.
Almost eight years after Pope Francis’s famous “Who am I to judge?” remark on homosexuality, Catholics are increasingly confused over the church’s “mixed messages” about LGBTQ people.
Some senior members of the church have suggested that the Pope merely wants to avoid hurting feelings in the community.
“He wants to be pastoral, and he wants to be close to the people. It’s his specialty,” said Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller.
“It’s easier to be everybody’s darling than to say the truth.
“He doesn’t like direct confrontation.”