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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis is elevating a leading pro-gay prelate to the College of Cardinals.
In a surprise declaration on Sunday, Francis announced that 13 clerics will be raised to the rank of cardinal at an Oct. 5 consistory in Rome. Among those picked to receive a red hat is homosexualist Abp. Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, one of the pontiff's strongest allies.
Inside and outside the Church, pro-LGBT activists are celebrating the news — among them, Fr. James Martin.
After the announcement, Martin took to Twitter to praise Zuppi's appointment: "Pope Francis has also named Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna as a cardinal! He is a great supporter of #LGBT Catholics."
In 2017, Zuppi penned the preface for the Italian edition of the pro-gay Jesuit's work Building a Bridge. In it, he falsely claimed that Martin "doesn't wish to challenge" the Church's teachings on homosexuality "in any way."
Drawing on Pope Francis' call for "accompaniment," the archbishop went on to criticize Catholic outreach to the same-sex attracted.
"These teachings have not been followed up with a commensurate pastoral program," he wrote, "one that doesn't simply restrict itself to the cold application of doctrinal guidelines, but instead transforms them into a journey of accompaniment."
"We must decide instead upon a true and patient accompaniment," Zuppi continued, "one that favors the comprehension and vital engagement of the Gospel message on the part of every person, but without reducing it."
Pope Francis has also named Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna as a cardinal! He is a great supporter of #LGBT Catholics and wrote the foreword for the Italian version of my book "Building a Bridge" ("Un Ponte da Costruire," published by Marcianum Press) https://t.co/3GUV5zRWmb pic.twitter.com/iknBJ4ZvhY— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) September 1, 2019
Suggesting that "charity and the truth of the gospel demand both availability and the capacity for dialogue," he called for "a wise pedagogy of gradualism ... taking the particular circumstances of each person into account."
"And so yes, there is indeed a bridge that needs continuous 'building,'" said Zuppi. "Such 'building' is a difficult process, still unfolding."
Quoting Theodore McCarrick associate Cdl. Kevin Farrell, the archbishop said that Martin's book "is 'much-needed' and 'will help bishops, priests, pastoral associates, and all church leaders more compassionately minister to the L.G.B.T. community."
"Furthermore," he added, "'it will also help L.G.B.T. Catholics feel more at home in what is, after all, their church.'"
Pope Francis appointed Zuppi as archbishop of Bologna in 2015. His appointment marked a radical shift in leadership in the archdiocese, a hotbed of leftist politics and LGBT activism.
Zuppi's predecessor, Cdl. Carlo Caffarra, was a noted conservative and one of the four dubia authors who asked Francis to clarify ambiguous statements on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried in the pontiff's 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
Whereas Caffarra frequently battled Bologna Mayor Virginio Merola over the politician's pro-gay ideology, Zuppi has become a close friend of the mayor and is often seen in his company.
Zuppi — nicknamed the "Bergoglio of Italy" — has distinguished himself as one of Pope Francis' strongest supporters. His Oct. 5 elevation is seen as deepening the pontiff's ideological imprint on the College of Cardinals.