Building a Bridge: Reflections on Fr. Martin's Newest Book

The following is a reflection provided by longtime DignityHouston member, George M. Wetzel:

While I will begin with some cursory observations here, my overall impressions of Rev. James Martin's "Building a Bridge" are quite positive.

No matter how it is packaged, this is not truly a "book," but rather a serious and admirable pamphlet based on Martin's lecture given upon receiving a prize from New Ways Ministry. To this he has expanded and added some truly marvelous biblical passages for reflection and meditation for all readers. These passages amount to just slightly half of the pages here and are, in my estimation, the most vital part of the work.

Martin's inspiration for "Building a Bridge" was the fact that so few Catholic bishops were comfortable or ready to acknowledge that the LGBT community was the primary target in the summer 2016 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He was struck by just how invisible the LGBT community was to the vast majority of bishops' expressions of support, horror, and grief without naming the community to which the victims belonged.

"Building a Bridge" gets its title from New Ways Ministry's "Bridge Building" award, and as mentioned, it is the book's driving impetus. Martin "urges the Church to treat the LGBT community with 'respect, compassion and sensitivity'" (a phrase derived from the Catechism of the Catholic Church) while equally exhorting the LGBT community to reciprocate. While I approve and appreciate Martin's premise, I am personally stuck and struck by the immense disparities of power between these two entities.

Lordy, this is a move in the right, honest, and compassionate direction, but the Holy Spirit will be put into "overdrive" to overcome the obstacles.

Read this book. Think, meditate, and share your reactions, feelings, and reflections.

Kudos to Fr. James Martin, S.J. for the ability to speak and write about this most serious divide in the Church.

-George M. Wetzel
June 16, 2017