American Jesuit Priest James Martin is known for holding to controversial positions. Much of his time in his bully pulpit is spent teaching positions that run counter to long-held doctrines in the Roman Catholic Church. This past July, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Caput publicly chastised Martin for publishing a LGBT-affirming book without including any robust teaching about sin and conversion.
In a post published on the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s webpage, Archbishop Chaput wrote:
But what the [book] regrettably lacks is an engagement with the substance of what divides faithful Christians from those who see no sin in active same-sex relationships. The Church is not simply about unity – as valuable as that is – but about unity in God’s love rooted in truth. If the Letter to the Romans is true, then persons in unchaste relationships (whether homosexual or heterosexual) need conversion, not merely affirmation. If the Letter to the Romans is false, then Christian teaching is not only wrong but a wicked lie. Dealing with this frankly is the only way an honest discussion can be had.
Instead of taking the rebuke to heart, Father Martin has doubled down. Responding to the Nashville Statement, a clearly worded repudiation of homosexuality and transgenderism by conservative evangelical leaders, Martin tweeted out seven responses:
- Re #Nashville Statement: I affirm: That God loves all LGBT people. I deny: That Jesus wants us to insult, judge or further marginalize them.
- I affirm: That all of us are in need of conversion. I deny: That LGBT people should be in any way singled out as the chief or only sinners.
- I affirm: That when Jesus encountered people on the margins he led with welcome not condemnation. I deny: That Jesus wants any more judging.
- I affirm: That LGBT people are, by virtue of baptism, full members of the church. I deny: That God wants them to feel that they don’t belong
- I affirm: That LGBT people have been made to feel like dirt by many churches. I deny: That Jesus wants us to add to their immense suffering.
- I affirm: That LGBT people are some of the holiest people I know. I deny: That Jesus wants us to judge others, when he clearly forbade it.
- I affirm that the Father loves LGBT people, the Son calls them and the Holy Spirit guides them. I deny nothing about God’s love for them.
Father Martin’s current promotion of the sexual revolution has caught the eye of the Vatican. A day after Martin’s tweets were published in the Washington Post, Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal. In his article, the Cardinal names James Martin and then reaffirms the Catholic Church’s teaching and doctrine concerning sexuality. Writing plainly, Cardinal Sarah explains:
In her teaching about homosexuality, the church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions. First there are the people themselves, who are always good because they are children of God. Then there are same-sex attractions, which are not sinful if not willed or acted upon but are nevertheless at odds with human nature. And finally there are same-sex relations, which are gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them. People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church about this complex and difficult topic.
Father James Martin may believe that he’s doing what’s right by promoting the sexual revolution, but the Catholic Church has made it clear that he does not align with the church’s doctrine. Martin and other rogue priests may soon find themselves defrocked.