This week, celebrity Jesuit priest James Martin promoted a rosary that directly contradicts Roman Catholic teaching and supports a pro-abortion nun whom Pope Benedict XVI investigated for straying from traditional Catholic doctrine into social justice issues. The rosary contains sections for victims of gun violence, for victims of “unjust societal structures,” for “Dreamers,” for “Mother Earth,” and for “LGBT couples.”
“A few months ago, I received an unusual gift from out of the blue: a Rosary that invited one to pray for a variety of people who suffer — unborn children, victims of gun violence, refugees and migrants, victims of racism, LGBT people, and so on: one group for each ‘decade.’ I’ve seen many Rosaries like this, but this to me was the most beautiful,” James Martin wrote in a Facebook post about the rosary.
“It was a beautiful gift that I’ve kept—and used,” he added. “Normally, I don’t promote things for sale (and no one asked or paid me to do this) but I thought some of you might like both pieces: the Rosary of Modern Sorrows and the new Holy Family Christmas card,” which presents baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as olive-skinned Middle Easterners, which may have been closer to their actual complexion.
Rosary beads like the “The Rosary of Modern Sorrows” follow a long tradition in Roman Catholicism. When Catholics pray the rosary, they start with one Lord’s Prayer, then recite ten “Hail Marys,” and conclude with a “Glory Be.” Each set like this is called a “decade,” and while Catholics recite them, they contemplate religious mysteries, or think about the sorrows of Jesus or Mary, or others. Rosary beads guide the prayer, with a set of ten beads for each “decade.”
In the case of “The Rosary of Modern Sorrows,” each decade is dedicated to a social justice issue. The first focuses on women and children, lamenting “the unjust societal structures that steal hope, healthcare, and economic security from these, our most vulnerable mothers.” The second involves prayer “for Mother Earth, our fragile environment, the animals, land, and oceans entrusted to our stewardship and care.”
The third decade focuses on “immigrants, refugees, Dreamers, and all who seek a life free from violence and the threat of death and abuse.” The fourth focuses on “those discriminated against because of the color of their skin,” and involves prayer “for our innate biases” and “for awareness of the attitudes and structures that remain from our history of slavery.”
Roman Catholicism has a rich tradition of fighting for justice, and Christians should indeed care for the least fortunate. Prayers for struggling women and children, prayers for those facing racism, prayers for immigrants, and prayers for stewardship of the environment all fit into Christian mandates to love God and neighbor. Each of these four decades included social justice language that may be problematic, but none directly contradicted Catholic teaching (except perhaps the reference to “Mother Earth…”).
The fifth decade seems the most controversial, however. The ten beads are in the colors of a rainbow, and involve an “affirming” prayer for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender:
We Pray for a welcoming of LGBTQ people by all churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues. We Pray for LGBTQ couples, their children, and extended families. We Pray that they may be supported and loved, with full acceptance as people truly create din the image of God, a creation that God saw as “good”, and who deserve to live every aspect of life to the fullest.
Throughout its history, the Roman Catholic Church has consistently opposed homosexual activity as gravely sinful. “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grace depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims. “Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
Indeed, Michael Hichborn, founder and president of the Lepanto Institute, told LifeSiteNews that the Jesuit priest James Martin was promoting “sacrilege.”
“What Fr. Martin is promoting on social media is nothing short of sacrilege,” he declared. “This gross misuse of the Holy Rosary not only reduces its sublime mysteries to a series of cheap political points, but is designed specifically to pray for acceptance of one of the four sins that cry to Heaven for Vengeance.”
Hichborn referenced Genesis 19. “Sodom was swallowed by a raging inferno into the bowels of the earth because this particular sin is so offensive to God, and it is difficult to see how anyone who promotes it so heavily could escape a similar fate,” he noted.
Yet cause for concern extends beyond this blatantly pro-LGBT decade. The company selling the rosary, Contemplative Rebellion, noted that “20% of the proceeds from this rosary will support Sr. Simone Campbell’s NETWORK, a non-profit founded by Catholic sisters.”
Contemplative Rebellion did not acknowledge that Sr. Simone Campell is a very controversial figure in American Catholicism. Pope Benedict XVI launched an investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), warning that the group had strayed from Catholic doctrine and adopted “radical feminist” views. Simone Campbell led the fight against the Vatican, fighting back against “an orthodoxy that I can’t quite understand.”
Campbell supported the Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”), and even backed the invasive contraception mandate, which forced Catholic charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor to cover abortion pills.
Campbell has also argued for legal abortion. “From my perspective, I don’t think it’s a good policy to outlaw abortion,” she said in 2016. “I think, rather, let’s focus on economic development for women and economic opportunity.”
The Roman Catholic Church considers abortion to be murder, a grave sin with the penalty of excommunication. “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the Catechism reads.
Besides Campbell and her NETWORK, which receives 20 percent of every purchase of “The Rosary of Modern Sorrows,” Contemplative Rebellion supports other social justice and LGBT charities, such as the Trevor Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The SPLC, notorious for branding mainstream conservative and Christian groups “hate groups” and listing them along with the Ku Klux Klan, actually cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church in branding the Ruth Institute a “hate group.” If the SPLC were to be consistent, they would have to mark the Catholic Church itself an “anti-LGBT hate group.”
As for Martin, he has a lengthy record of pro-LGBT activism, as LifeSiteNews’s Doug Mainwaring reported. Sadly, the Jesuit order has tended toward social justice activism, drawing the ire of many faithful Catholics.
Whether or not Martin was paid to endorse Contemplative Rebellion and its products, his support for the company, and for this LGBT Rosary, should draw condemnation from faithful Roman Catholics.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.