Atlanta, GA (CBS46)

Right before 10:30 mass on Sunday, dozens of Catholics lined Peachtree Way in front of the Cathedral of Christ the King to protest Archbishop Wilton Gregory inviting Father James Martin to speak at two local parishes.

“We're simply protesting two things,” said Dr. Kelly Bowring. “One, that Archbishop Gregory directly invited Father James Martin to speak. It wasn't that it just happened. He invited him. And secondly that Father James Martin himself is coming to the diocese to speak with a pro-gay agenda.”

Demonstrators told reporter Ashley Thompson that Father Martin is known to celebrate the gay community, which they say is against church doctrine.

“He is promoting active homosexuality,” said Diane Duquette. “He says there is nothing wrong with that.”

CBS46 has learned that Martin is scheduled to speak at both the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception downtown and St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Decatur next month.

“We're concerned that Father James Martin is being invited because we understand and agree to reach out to homosexuals and to love the sinner but the problem that Father James Martin does not address is the sin of homosexuality,” said Bowring.

Some Catholics believe there is a divide within the Catholic Church over this issue, not just in Atlanta but around the world.

One woman said the issue isn’t just homosexuality. She said more and more church clergy both straight and gay are in intimate relationships.

“Priests are supposed to be celibate,” said Duquette. “No sex with a woman or a man but what is happening is there are homosexually active priests in the clergy and they are being promoted and celebrated.”

The protesters are demanding Archbishop Gregory cancel Father Martin's speaking events.

“We love the homosexuals,” said Sarah Davila. “We love everybody but we cannot stand to see god’s church defiled this way.”

Other demonstrators were there to raise awareness regarding sex abuse in the catholic church.

Some said they want the laity to better address corruption within the church.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta released statements regarding the matter. See them below:

"Regarding the protestors issue about Archbishop McCarrick, Archbishop Wilton Gregory directly addressed this issue in August."

Click here to see his statement, including video

"Regarding the upcoming October visit of Fr. James Martin, SJ, to the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Gregory has addressed this as well"

"Over the past several weeks, Archbishop Gregory has met with a number of concerned Atlanta Catholics (both individually and in small groups), his priests and brother bishops about these matters. He has been trying to respond to the numerous letters and emails he has been receiving, both supportive and less so."

"Archbishop Gregory continues to abhor every instance of abuse. Now, as in the past, he cares deeply about abuse survivors, who deserve emotional, physical and spiritual healing. We offer pastoral resources and staff to assist them."

"Archbishop Gregory remains committed to being engaged with the laity, the presbyterate, and his brother bishops as we as a Catholic Church work through this tremendously difficult time."

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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