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Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  960 ratings  ·  167 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Jesus: A Pilgrimage turns his attention to the relationship between LGBT Catholics and the Church in this loving, inclusive, and revolutionary book.

On the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting, James Martin S.J. posted a video on Facebook in which he called for solidarity with our LGBT brothers and
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by HarperOne
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  960 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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Kevin Tuerff
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Father Jim Martin is a phenomenal priest and author. I have great respect for his teaching and his advocacy for marginalized persons, be it refugees or LGBT Catholics. As a gay Catholic, I'm overjoyed this book exists. Most of my gay Catholic friends left the church years ago due to hate speech from church officials and the Vatican. Fr. Jim's book is not just for LGBT Catholics, it's for all current and former Catholics. I attended his book reading, and I love his comment that "God knew when you ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a pretty disappointing read. It was essentially a blog post--and an incredibly superficial one at that--in hardcover. There was very little discussion beyond "gays are people too; be nice to them." Some parts were also supremely tone deaf, which was surprising for an author who is generally well-versed in this topic. Definitely left much to be desired.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-2017
Since it is a celebration of Pride, I decided my reading would include James Martin's Building a Bridge. While it is a great first step in the conversation between Catholics and the LGBTQ community, it isn't quite bridge building yet.

It doesn't name, for example, the Catholic church's role in the harm it has done to the LGBTQ community. It does recognize the CC has not always been respectful and understanding, but naming one's sin is part of repentance. In this case, there is still a
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can understand why some people feel “this book didn’t go far enough.” I think they’re reading it through a different lens than was intended. As a Catholic who studied theology and works for the Church in tension, I think I am lucky enough to see where Fr. Martin is coming from and where he is pointing all of us. Thank you, Jim, for showing all of us how to open our hearts to build this bridge together.
Given the storm of controversy surrounding Fr James Martin of late, I figured I needed to read this book to see exactly what his position is.
Among Catholics in general, there tends to be a divergence of views upon approaching the delicate topic of LGBT Catholics, between those who wish to emphasize the theology of marriage and its concomitant social mores and those who wish to focus on mercy and inclusiveness. These approaches are not necessarily opposed to each other, however there is a d
Josh Mcdonald
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Father Martin offers up a small, easily readable book which, for all the furor it's raised in certain sectors of the Catholic Church, is actually remarkably tame. There is nothing scandalous here, just one priest's sharing of his most effective ideas for reaching out to certain groups of marginalized Catholics.

In fact, I found myself wondering if Fr. Martin might not be offering us a blueprint for the various other deep divisions facing our society these days. All he's really advocat
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even though I am not Catholic or gay, I found this book very instructive and inspiring. There are so many bridges that need to be built in our communities, and I know that we all find ourselves on one side in any number of arenas … religion, politics, workplace, school.

His focus is how BOTH sides and learn respect, compassion, and sensitivity for the other. No one is perfect, and we can ALL improve our interactions with people we disagree with.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I was prepared to really like this. I was heartened by the support by various members of the Church hierarchy, including the head of the Vatican's dicastery of laity, family and life, and as for the people losing their heads about it, well, they tend to make me roll my eyes anyway, right?

The thing is, Fr. Martin's book is so blandly inoffensive, I can hardly rally myself to recommend it. He pulls his punches and is barely specific in terms of *how*, practically speaking, bridges and lines of co
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a great conversation starter, especially for people on opposite sides of this issue. I liked the way Fr. Martin dealt with the issue of the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church and how that affects the speed and type of movement on current global issues. I also really appreciated the scriptures and questions at the end. These would make it easier to use this book in a group and work your way towards hearing, healing and understanding.

I don't feel like this book changed me opinion on
Elyse Hayes
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely little book. It is really a long essay (based on a lecture at New Ways Ministry), with an added section at the end. It is a nice effort on Fr. Martin's part to ask for compassion and respect between the church AND the LGBT community (going BOTH ways). I read the lecture part, and then skimmed through the beautiful 2nd section, which is a selection of Scripture passages for reflection, along with questions to ask yourself. (These passages have been useful for Fr. Martin when he i ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I heard about a local Catholic school having a staff book club using this text, as a way to warm up to learning how to better support their LGBTQ students, and having me in as a trainer on the topic. (For context, I am a trainer on best practices for affirming LGBTQ youth and creating supportive environments.)

The way in which the school was using the book led me to believe the focus would be on helping Catholics understand LGBTQ identities and ways the church can be more supportive. Instead, it
Ryan Morrison
Mar 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'm a gay product of Jesuit education and, very generally, a fan of Fr. Martin's (he spoke at my high school graduation). I was excited to read this, but I found it to be pretty problematic and, honestly, disappointing.

Let's set this straight: marginalized groups are on the margins because of the abuses of institutions within structures of power--definitely NOT the other way around. Maybe this is because of my personal bias, but it really seems like Fr. Martin used a little bit of page space ex
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited about this new edition and to read the introduction which explained reactions to his book. Almost all of my critiques of the first edition were addressed and in typical James Martin fashion, handled with grace. I would, however, like to see him acknowledge the lack of inclusion of the transgender experience mostly, but also to the bisexual and lesbian experience as well. This book largely reads to the gay male experience and not to the other members of the LGBT community. Why ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
For me, this book lands somewhere between "I'm glad it exists because it might be a helpful way forward" and "this feels like a(nother) false equivalence that will only be misused by people in power."

As little as one sentence acknowledging the way the hierarchy's obvious power advantage and the real material harm done to the LGBT community shifts the burdens in this bridge-building would have been helpful.
Gina Mullen
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many people are upset by this book. I think it's the ones who haven't read it. Def worth reading. He has a very simple message: respect, compassion, & sensitivity. From & for all. How can you argue with that? It's a two way bridge.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book that reminds us that to build a bridge and cross it we need to listen to each other, be with each other and spend time getting to
know each other as Jesus has called us to do.
Eva Michelle
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
While this book was written with good intentions, and while there were many good points made, there were some definite issues I had with it.

There were many times that the author spoke about the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, without citing any sources or providing quotes or stats or anything to back up his claims. “They feel” and “they have”, and other overgeneralizing statements were used. Yet, even though the author states at the beginning that he interviewed several members of the LGBT commu
Robert D. Cornwall
One of the most important issues of our day in the church concerns the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. My own congregation became "Open and Affirming" just last year, after several years of open discussion. As difficult as that work was for a congregation, which has a great degree of autonomy, you can imagine the difficulty with which a Christian communion that is both ancient and nearly universal. While winds of change are being felt, it may take years, even generations for those changes to be full ...more
Ryan Hubbell
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Good start to an important conversation but it ignores (intentionally) the most pressing question. How do we reconcile catholic social teaching with caring for LBGT+ members who wish to have a fulfilling family life?
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the most thoughtful, compassionate take on this issue I’ve seen. Calling everyone to act with respect, sensitivity, and compassion as Christ did. Loved the supporting Biblical references as well as the included reflections. Well done.
Seamus Ronan
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Community first."
Robert D. Cornwall
The question of whether and how the church should include people who are Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, or Questioning continues unabated in both Protestant and Catholic communities, and I expect Orthodox ones as well. My congregation voted a few years back to become Open and Affirming. We were acting that way, for the most part, but we hadn’t embraced it in an official way. We did. We lost a few members and gained some. It was a difficult journey, but it was, in my view the right path. For s ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Helpful thoughts and sweet meditations.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I give Martin 3.5 stars overall. This book is a wonderful starting point for respectful, potentially healing discourse between the Catholic Church and its LGBT members as well as the larger LGBT community. However, it's just that: a starting point. It doesn't go much farther than a plea for compassionate, open-hearted understanding on either side. Some of it is quite repetitive, though the reflection questions at the end of the book might be utilized well on a healing retreat for the people repr ...more
Brandon Miranda
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has caused A LOT of controversy and after reading it, I am curious to see where the conversation about the communication between the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church goes from here.

Fr. Martin is accused of being permissive and I would challenge that critique. I think he approached this book with deep compassion and love for a community that feels distant from God and the Church. At the very least, Fr. Martin was flared up a conversation that needed to be had. I encourage people
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Thoughtful and so worth reading. Includes Bible passages and reflection questions.
Jaime K
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The worst thing about this book is that it's too short.

Ever since I heard first about this book, I have wanted to read it, and talk to Father James Martin as well. This was especially true after I learned that he had a lot of family members of LGBT persons come to him after reading it.

In his introduction, he mentions that animosity and contempt in general has skyrocketed with social media. That is something I agree with.

He repeats himself at times, but like a
Z. J. Pandolfino
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
In this short book, first delivered as a lecture by the prominent Jesuit priest Father James Martin, Martin draws upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church to explicate how the institutional hierarchy of the Church can and should treat the LGBT community with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and how, vice versa, LGBT Catholics can and should extend respect, compassion, and sensitivity to the Church and its representatives. Martin’s aim, ultimately, is to put these two communities into civ ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely. Thought-provoking. Just what we need these days.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True to form, Fr. James Martin has written a wonderful little book that is measured, reasonable, and faithful in its call for welcoming in love the LGBT community as part of the Catholic communion. If anyone criticizes this book as being in any way controversial with regard to church doctrine and teaching on homosexual activity and gay marriage, ignore them because they haven’t read this book. It has absolutely nothing to do with those issues. The only doctrine it engages is the only one that ma ...more
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James Martin, SJ is a Jesuit priest, writer, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, and consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication.

Fr. Martin grew up in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States, and attended Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982 and worked in corporate finance at Genera
“It is impossible to experience a person’s life, or to be compassionate, if you do not listen to the person or if you do not ask questions.” 1 likes
“It costs when you live a life of respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” 0 likes
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