Vatican Priest: Some Saints Were “Probably Gay”

"You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women," said Fr. James Martin.

A Jesuit priest appointed to the Vatican in April says in all likelihood some of the Catholic saints were gay.

Fr. James Martin, appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, posted an article on Facebook last week about a service at New Ways Ministry, an LGBT-affirming Catholic group.

One commenter was outraged, declaring “Any cannonized​ Saints would not be impressed.” To which Martin replied, “Some of them were probably gay.”

“A certain percentage of humanity is gay, and so were most likely some of the saints,” said the priest. “You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women.”

Fr James Martin/Facebook
Fr James Martin/Facebook

Martin has not discussed his own sexual orientation but in the wake of the Pulse massacre, he posted a video calling on Catholics “stand with… their LGBT brothers and sisters.”

He also wrote the book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. New Ways Ministry gave Martin its Bridge Building Award for his work.

Martin’s remark sparked a debate on the thread, with the original commenter asking, “Did you know that sodomy is one of four sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance, along with oppression of the poor and murder?”

We’re not sure who needs to be avenged—maybe the one who’s left to clean the sheets afterward?

Another commenter had a somewhat more compassionate response: “There most likely are canonized saints who had same-sex attraction. However, since we know that they are now in Heaven, they no doubt died in a state of grace, meaning they were not engaging in homosexual acts… at the time they passed. Or, if they had fallen into mortal sin, they sincerely repented, confessed it, received absolution, all prior to death.”

So who are these gay saints?

Scholars point to Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers, lovers, and Christian martyrs from the third century. Sergius was a commander in the army and Bacchus was his second, and it’s believe they committed to each other in an early Christian ceremony called a “adelphopoiesis” or “brother-making.”

They were eventually arrested for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter, paraded through the street in women’s clothing, and then subject to torture. Bacchus died first but appeared to Sergius in a vision, saying they would live together as lovers forever in Heaven. Sadly, in 1969, they were removed from the official canon of saints.

Then were were fifth-century nuns Galla and Benedicta, who were devoted to God and to each other. Galla, a widow, actually grew a beard to ward off male advances. When she grew gravely ill, Saint Peter appeared to her in a vision and told her to prepare for death. She wasn’t scared, but begged that her beloved Benedicta could join her in Paradise. Peter relented and the two women lived—er, died—happily ever after.

There are even rumors that Pope Paul VI, who served from 1963 to 1978, was gay. Homosexuals in the Catholic Church—who’d have guessed?

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.