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ATLANTA, Ga. (ChurchMilitant.com) - In an archdiocese known for rampant acceptance of homosexuality, faithful Catholics are coming together to take a stand against the pro-LGBT message, including the archbishop's invitation of celebrity Jesuit Fr. James Martin.
In the archdiocese of Atlanta, members of Church Militant Resistance are planning a prayerful protest outside the Cathedral of Christ the King on Sunday, Sept. 23 beginning at 9:15 a.m. Those looking to participate are asked to bring their Rosary beads. The backup date in case of rain is Sept. 30.
The organizers of the protest are opposed to the pro-gay culture in the archdiocese. In an email sent out to local concerned Catholics, they said that the goal of the prayerful protest is to "attempt to change Archbishop Gregory's current apparent approval of such manifest dissent and rejection of Church teaching."
The email references dissident pro-gay group Fortunate Families, whom Atlanta's Abp. Wilton Gregory welcomed into the archdiocese.
Their email also mentions Msgr. Henry Gracz, the pastor of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Shrine is a notoriously pro-gay parish, with parishioners even marching annually in Atlanta's gay pride parade.
Monsignor Gracz himself is one of the archdiocese's three official spiritual directors to victims of clerical sex abuse. Local Catholics have expressed concern that someone who runs a pro-gay parish would be charged with the spiritual direction of sex abuse victims. There was even a petition to get Msgr. Gracz removed from that post.
Church Militant has repeatedly reported on how the Atlanta archdiocese has been a hotbed for promoting the LGBT agenda in the Church.
As Resistance members began planning the protest this week, news came out that Abp. Gregory had invited pro-gay Jesuit celebrity priest Fr. James Martin to a pair of speaking gigs in the archdiocese in October. The pro-gay Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is one of the two parishes scheduled to feature Fr. Martin.
Father Martin has said that gay couples should be comfortable kissing during the Sign of Peace at Mass; that members of the LGBT community are not obligated to be chaste because they have not "accepted" the teaching; and that men who leave the gay lifestyle and practice chastity are living a lifestyle that is not "integrated."
However, Abp. Gregory argues that Fr. Martin's pro-gay messaging is still compatible with the Catholic faith.
In a statement that local Catholics shared with Church Militant, Gregory said:
The Reverend James Martin, SJ, is a priest in good standing of the Society of Jesus and a Consultor, appointed by Pope Francis, of the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. He was recently a presenter at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland.
Several weeks ago, I was asked by one of our pastors to invite Father Martin to share his perspective on ministry to the LGBTQ community as part of a larger, local parish conversation. I did not hesitate to support that pastor in extending the invitation. A second parish then asked to host Father Martin during the same visit.
Conscious of the considerable misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding Father Martin's message as it relates to the Church's teaching, I renew my confidence in both the pastors and the presenter. I ask that you please join me in a spirit of respect for the dignity for every person of God as we welcome Father James Martin to the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Quotes from the archbishop's statement were featured on Sept. 18 in archdiocesan publication The Georgia Bulletin.
Some faithful Catholics have been berating the archdiocese's Facebook page.
One commenter said, "May James Martin be converted to a Catholic. He's leading many souls astray."
Another chimed in: "Outrageous. This is a slap in the face to the entire Church in the midst of this homosexual crisis."
A different comment stated:
Many people are fasting and praying for this event to be canceled as it is well known that Fr. James Martin is not in line with Church teaching. Many people are very disappointed in our archbishop. Father James would not be welcome by many other bishops. There is a reason for that.
Still another person commented, "This is not a good signal. His thoughts are contrary to the Catholic Church doctrine."