A number of Catholic bishops have added their voices to criticism of Jesuit Father James Martin, America’s most prominent pro-LGBT priest.
As Breitbart News reported on Friday, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has warned Catholics of a “pattern of ambiguity” in Father Martin’s teachings on the matter of homosexuality.
“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues,” the archbishop wrote last 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.”
Since then, several other prelates have joined Archbishop Chaput in raising a red flag about Father Martin’s work.
“Father Martin’s public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God’s law,” wrote Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois in response to Chaput’s essay.
“People with same-sex attraction are indeed created and loved by God and are welcome in the Catholic Church. But the Church’s mission to these brothers and sisters is the same as to all her faithful: to guide, encourage, and support each of us in the Christian struggle for virtue, sanctification, and purity,” he said in his September 19 statement, posted on the diocesan website.
“Archbishop Chaput has provided a helpful caution to Catholics about Father James Martin,” Paprocki wrote, especially since Father Martin “either encourages or fails to correct behavior that separates a person” from God’s love.
“This is deeply scandalous in the sense of leading people to believe that wrongful behavior is not sinful,” he said.
Father Martin is the most visible clerical advocate of the LGBT community in the U.S. and the author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.
For his part, Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville also praised Chaput’s exercise of fraternal correction as well as the balanced tone of his reproach.
On Twitter, the bishop offered his kudos to Archbishop Chaput “for his column on the theological and moral errors of Fr Martin.”
“He praises his outreach but challenges his moral and theological thoughts. He also states clearly that this is a great error,” Bishop Stika said
“The Archbishop also adds that the vicious attacks on Father is wrong and sinful. It is one thing to disagree but another to be vicious and hide behind a handle,” he concluded.
This is not the first time that Catholic prelates have felt the need to offer public correction of Father Martin’s ambiguous teaching regarding homosexuality.
In 2017, Cardinal Robert Sarah, who heads up the Vatican’s liturgical department, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal asserting that people who identify as LGBT are owed the truth that same-sex relations “are gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them,” especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church.
In his critique, the Cardinal made explicit reference to Father Martin’s book Building a Bridge for its glaring absence of Catholic teaching on sexual morality for those who experience same-sex attraction.
In his op-ed, Cardinal Sarah said that no one should be identified by their sexual proclivities, but rather first and foremost as a human being and a child of God.
“In her teaching about homosexuality, the church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions,” Sarah notes.
Same-sex attraction is “at odds with human nature,” he wrote, adding that this truth is sadly missing in the book by Martin, who is “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality” among Catholic priests.
Those who speak on behalf of the church “must be faithful to the unchanging teachings of Christ, because only through living in harmony with God’s creative design do people find deep and lasting fulfillment,” he writes.
Cardinal Sarah insisted that the Church’s teaching on sexual morality is part of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ, and should not be hidden away but preached in love.
The Cardinal contrasted Father Martin’s book with another work by Daniel Mattson, Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace, for which Sarah wrote the foreword.
In writing about his own homosexuality and struggles to live a celibate life, Mattson says that Catholics “cannot remain reluctant to speak about the beauty of the Church’s teaching on sexuality and sexual identity for fear that it will appear ‘unloving,’ ‘irrational,’ or ‘unreal.’”
People with same-sex attractions who have discovered peace and joy by living the truth of the Gospel deserve to have their stories told, Sarah noted.