Pope Francis has penned a handwritten note to an American priest known for his work supporting LGBTQ Catholics. Father James Martin tweeted a photo of the pontiff’s prose, which was sent June 21, but only released on Sunday.
“I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God,” the pope wrote to Martin, who has written several books supporting LGBTQ members of the Catholic faith. “You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a Father for all men and women. I pray for you to continue in this way, being close, compassionate and with great tenderness.”
The letter comes as factions inside the Catholic church continue to argue whether the pope actually supports the recent ruling by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prohibiting the blessing of gay Catholic marriage. Francis has at times been a strong advocate for gay Catholics, once asking “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gays in the priesthood. He has also drawn scorn from liberal Catholics who say his mixed messaging on gay marriage sews confusion among the faithful.