Makers of documentary hope film expands Catholic LGBTQ outreach

By Mark Pattison | Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The makers of the documentary “Building a Bridge,” which makes its debut on streaming platforms and video on demand May 3, hope the film will extend the church’s outreach to LGBTQ Catholics.

“I really want this film to be accessible in any part of the world, for that matter. We’re hoping that we’re going to launch educational opportunities to show in different high schools and colleges and universities and hopefully maybe have it at libraries,” said Evan Mascagni, one of two co-directors of the movie.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do a lot of those grassroots community screenings, and follow that up with Q-and-A’s,” Mascagni added. “Hopefully our film can be a resource or a tool for a parish, like someone who wants to start their own LGBTQ ministry in a place like Kentucky,” from which he hails.

This is the movie poster for “Building a Bridge,” a documentary based on Jesuit Father James Martin’s LGBT ministry. (CNS photo/courtesy PR Collaborative)

“I really hope that the film can reach young people, and people who might not know any other clear path and feel they can joining a community or even start a community like Out in St. Paul,” a gay Catholic ministry featured in “Building a Bridge,” said Shannon Post, the other co-director, during an April 28 conference call with Catholic News Service.

“Building a Bridge” is based on the book of the same name by Jesuit Father James Martin, editor at large of America magazine and a consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication as well as being the author of several books.

Father Martin, who admitted being “uncomfortable” being the focus of the film — “the film should be about the ministry, not me,” he said on the conference call — added, “parishes, too,” as an important point outreach with the movie.

“My real target is the LGBTQ Catholic youth, who is wondering if there really is a place in the church for LGBTQ people,” Father Martin said. “They will see this and know that God loves them, and to quote Cardinal (Wilton D.) Gregory (of Washington), know that they are at the heart of the church.”

Post and Mascagni co-directed the 2015 documentary “Circle of Poison,” about the manufacture and sale in the United States of pesticides banned by the federal government for use in other nations.

Post had wanted to make a documentary about the shooting rampage at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people, including a college classmate of hers. Mascagni, who had pretty much turned his back on the Catholic Church in which he was brought up, relented to his mother’s importuning that he go to a talk given by “a cool priest” she’d found on Instagram.

The priest was Father Martin. “It was one of his first ‘Building a Bridge’ talks, Mascagni recalled. He then went to Post and said, “I think there’s a story here.”

They convinced Father Martin to let himself be filmed. When he was invited to speak at the Vatican’s World Conference of Families in 2018 in Dublin, Mascagni and Post told him: “We’re going to Dublin.” “Why are you coming to Dublin?” he remembers asking them. “They said, ‘We’re making a documentary,'” which is when he realized “this wasn’t going to be a fly-by-night operation. This was going to be a serious documentary.”

Three years later, “Building a Bridge” had its cinematic debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Assessments by many of those featured in the movie had good things to say. Critics of Father Martin’s ministry — among them Michael Voris of Church Militant, who is featured in the documentary — have yet to weigh in.

Jesuit Father James Martin is seen in the documentary “Building a Bridge,” a film about his LGBT ministry. (CNS photo/courtesy PR Collaborative)

But Mascagni said: “In the film, we point out all the trolling that happens on Father Martin’s social media. Now that we’ve announced the film on social media, we’re starting to get a tiny part of that.”

In addition to Post and Mascagni’s “impact plan” to take the movie on the road with post-screening question-and-answer sessions and LGBTQ profiles they couldn’t jam into a feature that already was running 90 minutes long — America Media is introducing in May a new website called

Father Martin will coordinate news and resources to be posted on the website, as well as details for a new “Outreach” conference for LGBTQ Catholics in June at Jesuit-run Fordham University.

“Parishes, particularly in the West, are realizing they have to deal with LGBTQ kids — as well as LGBTQ parishioners themselves,” he said. “That trend is not going to change. People are not going to stop coming out.”

“Building a Bridge” will be available on video on demand May 3, followed by a launch on AMC+ June 21 and broadcast premiere on Sundance TV June 26.

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

1 comment

I hope the LGBTQ+ community know the Church is not going to change for them – God made man and woman and marriage is between a man and a woman. We know this is true as we would not be here today if it wasn’t for Adam and Eve (man and woman). An easy way to understand this is you cannot produce children if you are of the same sex. God did not create any ‘other’ people. If someone wants to be ‘fluid’ or other than male and female, that is something that cannot be acknowledged as being a Catholic value (or God’s values), or made to believe it is ok. It is too often we care only about ourselves but we have to live according to the laws God gave us, not man. We have to figure out WHY people feel more like they are a male than a female, (or the other way around), or WHY they do not want to be acknowledged as a male or a female – not just accept it – perhaps it is due to they types of drugs or hormones their parent’s took when they were conceived. It has to be investigated.

We may not know why people are attracted to the same sex but like us all we all have our challenges and difficulties we have to live with. People are rewarded by God to get thru those difficulties whether we like them or not. We have to live up to His standards, which are a much higher bar than ours. If you create organizations like “Out” then you are creating a ‘slippery slope’ where people will not realize the Catholic values and God and Jesus’ values. The Catholic Church cannot change ‘with the times’. There are homosexual Catholics that do not want the Church to change for them.
I am not married, and just because I haven’t found a husband to live my life with doesn’t mean someone changes the Church for me and I wouldn’t want it to. We all have a role to play in God’s plan. Maybe for LGBTQ+ Catholics it is a mission to not only live by God’s laws, but to tell others of God’a values, and how to deal with their challenges they are facing.

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