Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has warned Catholics of a “pattern of ambiguity” in the teachings of Jesuit Father James Martin on LGBT issues.
“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues,” the archbishop wrote Thursday in Catholic Philly, “I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.”
In his article, the archbishop enumerates five “concerns” with Father Martin’s statements and actions, which he believes could cause confusion among the faithful.
The first concern is with language, since Father Martin has argued that people experiencing same-sex attraction “should be labeled according to their attraction and dysphoria, calling for use of the phrase ‘LGBT Catholic’ in Church documents and language.”
Our sexual appetites “do not define who we are,” the archbishop insists, adding that a Christian’s true identity “is found in Jesus Christ, created in the image and likeness of God and called to be sons and daughters of God.”
A second area of ambiguity is Father Martin’s assertion that people are born “gay,” whereas studies have recently shown that there is no “gay gene,” and homosexuality “is the product of a variety of factors,” Chaput notes.
“Any implication that a person’s behavior is predetermined, and that intellect and free will have little role in the formation and control of his or her sexual appetites, is both false and destructive, especially to young people,” he adds.
Third, Father Martin disagrees with the Church’s use of the expression “objectively disordered” to describe same-sex attraction.
By saying this, “Father Martin misrepresents Catholic belief,” the archbishop states, since the Church teaches that erotic attraction to a person of the same sex “is not ordered toward the fulfillment of the natural ends of human sexuality.”
Therefore, “acting in accord with such an inclination simply cannot contribute to the true good of the human person.”
A fourth problematic area regards Father Martin’s partnerships with organizations “that oppose or ignore the teaching of the Church,” and his endorsement of events, such as PRIDE month, “that cause confusion for the faithful,” the archbishop declares.
In the fifth place, Father Martin offers false hope “that the Church’s teachings on human sexuality can be changed,” Chaput writes.
In Martin’s book, Building A Bridge, he suggests that Church teaching on the moral evil of homosexual practice is not truly authoritative simply because the teaching that people should abstain from homosexual sex “has not been received” in the LGBT community.
While Father Martin has stressed that he never publicly challenges Catholic teachings on human sexuality, “what is implied or omitted often speaks as loudly as what is actually stated, and in the current climate, incomplete truths do, in fact, present a challenge to faithful Catholic belief,” the archbishop notes.
In my role as pastor of the Church in Philadelphia, Chaput concludes, I wish to caution “all the faithful of the Church in Philadelphia, regarding the ambiguity about same-sex related issues found throughout the statements and activities of Father James Martin.”