A Jesuit priest has slammed “relentless homophobia and hatred” in the Catholic Church after a gay pastoral associate in California allegedly had “No Fags” spray painted on his office wall.
Fr. James Martin, SJ, a New York Times bestselling author and advocate for greater LGBTQ outreach by the Church, condemned the graffiti in a post on Facebook.
“This [is] the result of the relentless homophobia and hatred being peddled in some quarters of the Catholic church today,” Martin wrote, adding that the victim, Aaron, “is a gay man working as a pastoral associate in a parish in California.”
The homophobic message was reportedly sprayed on the office wall after the church’s offices were broken into.
Martin said it wasn’t the first incident, adding that the associate had been targeted by right-wing and religious media and even had the doors of his church set on fire.
He also detailed several instances of alleged harassment and abuse: “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.'”
Martin said that one man “physically attacked” Aaron at the end of Mass, and had to be “prevented by other parishioners from hurting him.”
“This is what hate does,” Martin wrote, “especially the kind of hate whipped up online.” He added that bishops “must stand up to this kind of hatred.”
No stranger to LGBTQ advocacy, last year Martin released a book, Building a Bridge, which urged the Church to better engage with LGBTQ people — or, as the book’s subtitle put it, “How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”
In an interview with PinkNews earlier this year, Martin said that he advocates for LGBTQ people because they “deserve to be cared for.”
“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.”
Despite criticism for his views, Martin said that most Catholics support his efforts.
“Jesus’s message in the gospel is clear: love, welcome, and inclusion, especially for those who feel marginalised,” he told PinkNews. “That’s the most essential church teaching.”