Fr. James Martin, SJ, tells gay activists: The Church should embrace homosexuality’s ‘special gifts’
PIKESVILLE, Maryland, November 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — On Sunday, one of the most well-known American Jesuit priests accepted an award from a pro-gay group that has been condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the U.S. Catholic bishops.
Father James Martin, the editor of America magazine, suggested in his lengthy New Ways Ministry award acceptance speech that some Catholic bishops who uphold the Church’s teaching on sexual morality might be “trapped brethren” who are secretly gay themselves. He also praised a 17-year-old for “coming out” on a retreat and equated sexual proclivities with race and age.
Martin called New Ways Ministry co-founder Sr. Jeannine Gramick, a pro-abortion, dissident religious sister who supports same-sex “marriage,” one of his “heroes.”
Gramick introduced Martin and noted his large social media following.
“You just ask any young person” to explain what that means, she quipped. The majority of the attendees appeared to be senior citizens.
New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo joked that the Building Bridges award ceremony was like the “Catholic LGBT Academy Awards.”
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the retired Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit who has a history of activism at odds with Church teaching, was also in attendance, as was at least one Catholic priest.
A history of dissent and disobedience
In addition to being condemned by the Vatican and U.S. bishops, New Ways Ministry has been banned from speaking in Catholic dioceses across the country, but it maintains that it is a “Catholic” group.
New Ways Ministry describes itself as “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities.”
Part of its mission is to “identify and combat personal and structural homophobia,” and “work for changes in attitudes and promote the acceptance of LGBT people as full and equal members of church and society.”
The Bridge Building Award it bestowed on Martin “honors those individuals who by their scholarship, leadership, or witness have promoted discussion, understanding, and reconciliation between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church.”
New Ways Ministry has published a number of materials attempting to reconcile Catholic moral teaching with same-sex “marriage” and sodomy.
“In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s document Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons instructs. “One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that sexual activity between people of the same sex is “intrinsically disordered” but that the attraction itself is not necessarily a sin. Those who experience same-sex attraction should be treated with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” the Catechism says (CCC 2357 – 2358).
“I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” Cardinal Francis George wrote when he was the head of the U.S. bishops’ conference. “Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination.”
In 1999, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Gramick not to address the issue of homosexuality because of her “doctrinally unacceptable” views. Nevertheless, she continues to advocate for the LGBT cause.
In 2012, after DeBernardo published a booklet purporting a “positive Catholic approach” to same-sex “marriage,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote:
We, as the respective chairmen of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, wish to reaffirm Francis Cardinal George’s statement of February 12, 2010 and assure Catholics that in no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization.Fr. Martin: Church should ‘lay to rest’ its old language
“Church leaders are invited to be attentive to how they name the LGBT community and lay to rest phrases like ‘afflicted with same-sex attraction’ which no L.G.B.T. person I know uses, and even ‘homosexual person,’ which seems overly clinical to many,” Martin said. “I’m not prescribing what names to use, though ‘gay and lesbian,’ ‘LGBT’ and ‘LGBTQ’ are the most common.”
“People have a right to name themselves” and “if Pope Francis can use the word gay, so can the rest of the church,” he said.
Martin praised the pope’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia for its lack of use of the Catechism’s language about the “objectively disordered” nature of homosexual inclinations and acts. The Catechism’s language is “needlessly cruel” and “needlessly hurtful,” the Jesuit said, because it says “that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is ‘disordered’ in itself.”
However, many Catholics who themselves feel same-sex attraction or have previously been in same-sex relationships take issue with this reductionist approach to their experiences.
The Church should recognize the “special gifts” gays bring to the Church by virtue of their sexual attractions, Martin said, echoing a statement that progressive Catholics made at the contentious synod on the family.
In addition to praising Pope Francis, Martin praised Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and Australian Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen. Martin lauded Schönborn for praising same-sex unions and Nguyen for saying the Church cannot talk about “the universal and inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces of oppression in the ill-treatment of … homosexuals.”
Martin also compared the “gift of time” that the “LGBT community” needs to give the institutional Church to accept them with the time he needed to give his parents to accept his vocation to the priesthood.
‘Unjust discrimination’ to fire Church employees in gay ‘marriages’?
Martin also decried recent firings of employees of Catholic institutions who publicly contradict Church teaching by entering into same-sex “marriages.” He said he was “disappointed” by this and that it is a form of “unjust discrimination” prohibited by the Catechism.
“If adherence to Church teaching is going to be a litmus test for employment in Catholic institutions, then dioceses and parishes need to be consistent,” Martin said, and fire people who divorce and remarry and cohabitate.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput recently issued diocesan guidelines for the implementation of Amoris Laetitia that specifically addressed the scandal of seeming Church approval of divorce and civil remarriage.
“Care must be taken to avoid the unintended appearance of an endorsement of divorce and civil remarriage,” Chaput wrote. “Thus, divorced and civilly remarried persons should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish (e.g. on a parish council), nor should they carry out liturgical ministries or functions (e.g., lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion).”
“To be consistent,” Martin added, “we should fire people for not helping the poor, for not being forgiving, and for not being loving. That may sound odd, but why should it? Jesus’ teachings are the most essential ‘Church teachings.’”
Fr. Martin: I have ‘zero expertise’ or knowledge on health risks of gay sex
When LifeSiteNews asked Martin how the Church should “educate the LGBT community about some of the health dangers of anal sex,” he responded, “I have zero experience on that and zero, I’m being serious, zero expertise, so I don’t know how I would answer that question.”
According to the secular website WebMD, “there are a number of health risks with anal sex, and anal intercourse is the riskiest form of sexual activity for several reasons.”
Studies suggest “anal exposure to HIV poses 30 times more risk for the receptive partner than vaginal exposure,” the website says, and the tissue inside the anus is “vulnerable to tearing and the spread of infection.”
Such activity “may lead to weakening of the anal sphincter, making it difficult to hold in feces,” and “even if both partners do not have a sexually-transmitted infection or disease, bacteria normally in the anus can potentially infect the giving partner.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, men who have sex with men are two percent of the population but make up 55 percent of people who were HIV-positive in 2013. The CDC also warns that men who have sex with men are at increased risk for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
The full prepared text of Fr. Martin’s talk is here.
“Pilgrimage of Mercy,” sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame and St. Mary College, was a plea for extending mutual mercy between the LGBT community and the institutional Catholic Church.
The march, which began in New York City’s Central Park, paused for a prayer rally at Columbus Circle, and concluded by participating in the Sunday liturgy at St. Paul the Apostle parish, attracted about 50 participants. Greg Bourke, a gay Notre Dame alumnus who organized the event, explained to The Observer the intention of the program:
” ‘What we wanted to show with this pilgrimage is that being merciful and forgiving is an interactive process,’ Bourke said. ‘We extended our forgiveness and mercy to the Catholic Church, and we ask for those same things in return.’
“Bourke said the rally was meant to be ‘an expression of faithful LGBTQ Catholics.’
” ‘There are many of us, and Pope Francis has started to push that door open for us,’ he said, referring to the statements the pope has made on LGBTQ issues.”
He expressed a similar sentiment to The National Catholic Reporter:
“We are both seeking mercy from our church, and in return we offer mercy and forgiveness to all those in our Church who have not been so gracious to us in the past,” said Bourke.
The idea of LGBT people and the institutional church showing mutual respect to one another was the theme of Jesuit Fr. James Martin’s talk when he accepted New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award last Sunday. You can read his talk by clicking here.
Bourke also recalled Notre Dame’s legendary president, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, as an inspiration for the event:
” ‘By supporting the civil rights movement among conservative circles, he [Hesburgh]was ahead of the curve in many ways,’ Bourke said. ‘Now, he is respected and admired for that courage.’
“Bourke said a main theme in the day’s speeches was the need for mutual reconciliation.
” ‘We all need to give a little and work better at understanding each other,’ he said. ‘We need to find that area we can agree on.’ . . .
” ‘We need someone willing to take a controversial stand, someone within Catholic leadership and the Catholic community,’ Bourke said. ‘Notre Dame could do that.’ “
The event was modeled on a similar Pilgrimage of Mercy in Louisville, Kentucky, held earlier this year.
At the New York event, legendary television talk show host Phil Donahue was one of the speakers at the prayer rally. Other speakers included: Jack Bergen, of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College; Chris Hartman of Catholics for Fairness; Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry executive director; Fr. Warren Hall, an openly priest from the Newark archdiocese who was recently because of his support for LGBT issues; Dave Swinarski, a St. Paul’s parishioner and a leader of their OUT at St.Paul’s LGBT ministry; and Holly Cargill-Cramer and Rosemary Grebin Palms of Fortunate Families.
Legendary television talk show host Phil Donahue was one of the speakers at the prayer rally. Other speakers included: Jack Bergen, of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College; Chris Hartman of Catholics for Fairness; Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry executive director; Fr. Warren Hall, an openly priest from the Newark archdiocese who was recently because of his support for LGBT issues; Dave Swinarski, a St. Paul’s parishioner and a leader of their OUT at St.Paul’s LGBT ministry; and Holly Cargill-Cramer and Rosemary Grebin Palms of Fortunate Families.
At the rally, DeBernardo called for greater conversation between bishops and LGBT people:
“This morning, all of us gathered here renew our call to our church, and especially to our church’s leaders, the U.S. bishops, to reject homophobic and transphobic words and deeds of the past, and instead to reach out in a spirit of mercy to LGBT Catholics who are an important but often under-recognized blessing to our Church. And we ask LGBT Catholics to show mercy to church leaders for past harm, to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to them, just as Jesus offered forgiveness and reconciliation to Peter who denied him three times.
“In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we ask the bishops to remember the words of Pope Francis, spoken in a homily soon after his election in 2013, when he said that from Jesus ‘we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation.’ This year of mercy is a time to begin the conversation. It’s a time for both the church’s bishops and LGBT Catholics to sit down together in humble and honest dialogue. May the Spirit of God open minds, hearts, ears, and mouths so that this dialogue can take place with understanding and charity.”The Pilgrimage was co-sponsored by the following organizations: Catholics for Fairness, GLAAD, HRC, New Ways Ministry, Equality Blessed, Dignity/USA, Dignity/New York, Freedom for All Americans, Out At St Paul, Fortunate Families and Believe Out Loud.
–Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 3, 2016