Pope Francis hears grumbling about Fr. James Martin, SJ. So, he turns to his key advisors.
He starts with the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, he of 2+2=5 theological fame, who tells Francis there is no problem with Martin who is doing God’s own work in building bridges to a marginalized community.
Francis next turns to Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany who tells him that Martin is doing God’s own work building bridges to a marginalized community.
He goes to Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin who answer in unison that Martin is doing God’s own work building bridges to a marginalized community.
He even turns to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, who has his ear attuned to the Anglosphere, and who tells Francis that Martin is doing God’s own work building bridges to a marginalized community.
But Francis says he has heard things, that maybe Fr. James Martin is not totally solid on the teachings of the Church. This comes only from the rigid, Holy Father. Ignore them.
This is the problem one encounters when wondering how and why Pope Francis would so fulsomely endorse the “ministry” of Fr. James Martin, SJ:
I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people, with the closeness that Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God.
Our Heavenly Father comes close with love to each one of his children, each and every one. His heart is open to each and everyone. He is a Father.
Thinking about your pastoral work, I see that you are continually seeking to imitate this style of God. You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a father for all men and women.
I pray for you to continue in this way, being close, compassionate and with great tenderness.
The problem is that the Pope does not read Crisis Magazine, or LifeSite, or Church Militant, or any of the other smelly rightwing press that have been covering Martin’s true self for years.
Let us, nonetheless, turn to some of Fr. James Martin’s greatest hits, statements that are clearly at odds with Church teaching, that demonstrate Martin is more than building bridges to a “marginalized community” that is, by the way, among the most powerful “communities” in the United States.
Fr. James Martin says Church entities must place orphans with homosexual men or become guilty of the new sin of homophobia. He said this in the run up to the recently-decided Supreme Court case about Catholic adoptions and religious freedom in Philadelphia.
He says the ancient teaching on homosexuality has not been “received” and therefore it is not authentic. He says the teaching about contraception has also not been received. Martin believes there is more than one sexual orientation when the Church teaches there can only be one, the complementarity between men and women. The Church refers to homosexuality not as an orientation but as a tendency.
Martin objects to Church teaching that homosexuality is “disordered.” This even appears in plain sight, in his book Building a Bridge: “Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person—the part that gives and receives love—is ‘disordered’ in itself is needlessly cruel.” As Fr. Gerry Murray points out, “An inclination toward unnatural sexual activity is not the heart and soul of a person. True love is expressed in virtuous deeds. Evil inclinations or tendencies to sin must be seen by the Christian for what they are and resisted.”
Martin insists that homosexuality is merely “differently ordered” which would mean some people are made into a new category of being—homosexual—by God’s design. As Fr. Murray points out, this would mean that sodomy is merely different from intercourse and therefore would be “simply natural” and not disordered.
Martin actually said in an interview that he looks forward to the day when married homosexuals may be able to kiss in Mass. “Why not?” he said, “What’s the terrible thing?” Martin compares opposition to homosexual marriage to racism.
Francis would know none of this because it appears in journals that his advisors do not read and heartily despise. And I am pretty sure Francis does not spend any time nosing around on the Interwebs.
We can be truly sorry that this letter will be used by the dissident Left to crow—“take that, you crusty conservatives”—but we can hope that the endorsement did not come with the Pope’s full knowledge of James Martin’s dissents nor of his perfidy.
Even so, with all due respect, Pope Francis is wrong about Fr. James Martin, SJ. Martin is doing more and much worse than building bridges to a marginalized community. He is undermining the teachings of the Church and leading young men to perdition.
[Photo: Fr. James Martin and Pope Francis (Vatican Media)]