A Catholic priest has hit back at homophobes by saying that some saints were probably gay.
Pro-LGBT Jesuit Father James Martin replied to a homophobic comment on his Facebook page by noting that, with a percentage of people being gay, it was highly likely that many saints were too.
Martin was appointed by Pope Francis last month as a new consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.
After Martin posted a link to an article about an LGBT Catholic gathering, one user replied with a comment stating: “Any canonised saints would not be impressed.”
The Jesuit replied: “Some of them were probably gay. A certain percentage of humanity is gay, and so were most likely some of the saints.
“You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women.”
The comment provoked mixed reactions, with some conservative Catholics being deeply shocked by it.
One user wrote: “It’s hard to believe how many Judas [sic] I’m starting to see in the church, but then again… the bible warn[ed] us about it.”
Others claimed that while some saints may well have been attracted to people of the same sex, since they were in heaven they “died in a state of grace, meaning they were not engaging in homosexual acts”.
Martin has long been an advocate for LGBT rights within the Catholic Church.
He published a book called Building a bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT community can enter into a relationship of respect, compassion and sensitivity for which he received an award by catholic LGBT group, New Way Ministry.
Last year following the Orlando shooting the Jesuit posted a video urging Catholics to “stand with their LGBT brothers and sisters”.
He also noted that in their condemnation of the shooting, nearly all US Catholic leaders neglected to refer explicitly refer to the LGBT community.
“This is revelatory… it shows how the LGBT community is invisible still to much of the church,” he said.
Not even Pope Francis, in his official statement, mentioned that the victims of the attack in Orlando were gay.
Pope Francis has seemingly had a mixed stance on the LGBT community. Referring to gay people in 2013 he said: “Who am I to judge?”.
More recently however he defined the growing acceptance of trans identity as “terrible”.
In 2008, Catholics in London held a mass to celebrate those saints who were part of the LGBT community.