(WP) – Pope Francis has sent an encouraging letter to a U.S. priest known for his ministry affirming LGBTQ Catholics, comparing his work to Jesus and God.

The pope’s letter comes in the wake of more oppositional moves from the Vatican — that were authorized by Francis — on the topic of gay rights. And it adds to the confusion facing many LGBT Catholics about where the pontiff stands eight years after he said, famously, “Who am I to judge?”

The Rev. James Martin, one of the country’s best-known Catholic priests for his work on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and for his advocacy for gay Catholics, on Sunday shared the June 21 letter from Pope Francis. In the letter, which was written in Spanish, Francis thanks Martin for a conference that Martin oversaw Saturday with 1,000 attendees about ministry to LGBTQ Catholics.


“I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people, with the closeness Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God … Thinking of your pastoral work, I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God,” Francis wrote.

“And I pray for your faithful, your ‘flock,’ and all those whom the Lord places in your care.” The Vatican’s press office did not respond immediately Sunday to a message seeking to confirm the authenticity of the letter. But the Vatican’s official news organization reported on the note. READ MORE

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