Fraternal invitation to Bishop McElroy and Father Martin

Let's embrace the truth about homosexual inclination that is at the heart of our Church’s teaching

Bishop McElroy and Father James Martin (image from Crisis Magazine)

San Diego bishop McElroy recently wrote in defense of Jesuit Fr. James Martin’s work after it became known that Martin was disinvited from several Catholic speaking engagements, in large part due to backlash from multiple Catholic sources expressing concern over Martin’s writing and speaking on homosexuality and the Church. There is a bit of a media firestorm now associated with the disinvitations.

The same values—respect, compassion, and sensitivity—that Fr. Martin rightly notes should be shown to people with same-sex attraction will also be the hallmarks for anyone interested in engaging the facts surrounding Fr. Martin’s writing and speaking on homosexuality.

Bishop McElroy says, correctly, that writing on homosexuality can be a volatile and perilous thing. This is precisely why extraordinary care and clarity are needed when seeking to express the realities connected with same-sex attraction, particularly in the face of the rejection of those realities by what culture calls the “LGBT community.”

Bishop McElroy says that Fr. Martin is seeking to open “a door for proclaiming that Jesus Christ and his church seek to embrace fully and immediately men and women in the L.G.B.T. community.” Yet, I’d observe that the Church has had that door open for decades. The door, like the bridge, is also two-way. Indeed, a genuine “embrace” also takes two. For the Church to fully embrace a person with same-sex attraction, that person must also want to receive that embrace and must want to return it. How? By embracing the truth about the homosexual inclination that is at the heart of our Church’s teaching.

The Courage apostolate has been doing this work since 1980, and we truly know what successful pastoral outreach to those with same-sex attraction really looks like. Not only that, but the Courage apostolate recently achieved status as a public association of the faithful. It now officially teaches in the name of the Catholic Church and is the only such same-sex attraction apostolate to do so. Fr. Martin seems to have intentionally chosen to align himself not with Courage, nor point people to this mature effort to give pastoral care to people with SSA. Instead, he intentionally aligns with New Ways Ministry, a group the US Bishops and the Vatican condemn as not being faithful to the truth about homosexuality. Fr. Martin claims that, since other clergy (including a bishop) have spoken at New Ways Ministry events, that means they must now be “rehabilitated” and thus approved by the Church. But there is no evidence to support such a claim. Even at this basic level, it should be clear why people are genuinely concerned about the scope and purpose of Fr. Martin’s bridge building.

While Bishop McElroy is right to assert that personal attack and distortion should have no place in real dialogue, we see how easily things can shift away from attacking ideas to attacking persons. For example, Fr. Martin perceived a personal attack and a call to physical violence against him in one group’s reference to a Twitter exchange in which a priest was said to have beaten Fr. Martin “like a rented mule.” Fr. Martin also interpreted a reference to his response to that exchange as being “pansified” as him really being personally called a “pansy.” In his defense of Fr. Martin, Bishop McElroy states that “this cancer of vilification is seeping into the institutional life of the church.” After that, many are stating that Bishop McElroy is personally calling others “cancer.”

However, if we shouldn’t conclude that Bishop McElroy’s reference to cancer is an attack on persons, then we also shouldn’t conclude that the references made regarding Fr. Martin’s words and actions automatically are attacks on him as a person. It seems that everyone should agree that all Christians are called to assume the best possible interpretation of another’s words, not the worst.

Let’s now consider “homophobia,” which Bishop McElroy says is one of the reasons for the “attacks” on Fr. Martin. It’s true that fear, and perhaps even hate, might motivate some who employ unwelcome rhetoric and display discriminatory attitudes towards those with SSA. But, Fr. Martin has also stated that some people’s “rage” is a result of not properly dealing with their own “complex sexualities” that result from sexuality being all along a spectrum or “continuum.” That is a troubling assertion because the Church does not align herself with the faddish “orientation ideology” of contemporary culture and psychological science. Fr. Martin is also on record as unequivocally stating that God creates people “gay” for some “mysterious reason.” But this claim directly contradicts Church teaching and causes great confusion among the faithful.

In Bishop McElroy’s defense of Fr. Martin, he observes that, while chastity is a “very important virtue”:

…chastity is not the central virtue in the Christian moral life. Our central call is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Many times, our discussions in the life of the church suggest that chastity has a singularly powerful role in determining our moral character or our relationship with God. It does not.

I find this very confusing, given that the homosexual inclination itself is a persistent temptation to choose against chastity. How does it help people with same-sex attraction to draw closer to the Church and grow in the virtues if we do not acknowledge the “singularly powerful role” that chastity clearly has in determining the moral character of someone experiencing significant temptations against chastity because of an objectively disordered homosexual inclination?

The Beatitudes tell us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The Catechism tells us (CCC 2532): “Purification of the heart demands prayer, the practice of chastity, purity of intention and of vision.”

Without a commitment to pursue chastity, without avoiding deliberately and intentionally sinning against chastity, we will not see God. The stakes could not be higher, in my view. This is why seeking chastity is one of the hallmarks of the Courage apostolate and of any truly pastoral attempt to bridge the gap between the Church and the “LGBT community”—a community that Fr. Martin says has not “received” this teaching as “authoritative.” He says both sides are too far apart to address that issue. Yet, setting aside this fundamental issue gives me great and grave concern for souls. We will have to answer, eventually, for any deliberately missed opportunities to proclaim these truths in their fullness to those who are most in need of them.

We have to have enough respect, compassion, and sensitivity for the “LGBT community” to extol the virtue of chastity even when that virtue is not “received” by that community. This is precisely why I am befuddled and saddened by the lack of support for the Courage apostolate in certain dioceses and in Fr. Martin’s own “informal” ministry to this community. Why not promote the formal ministry that has existed for 30 years and is now mandated by the Church to teach in its name, rather than promoting pro-same-sex “marriage” New Ways Ministry?Such a sincere attempt at genuine dialogue would do so many other faithful Catholics—and everyone with same-sex attraction—a world of good.

Full story at Crisis Magazine.

Bishop McElroyChastityCourageFr. James Martin S.J.homosexuality,New Ways MinistryProgressive Catholics

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  1. A Fraternal Correction is what both Bishop McElroy and Father Martin need. These two men have been undermining and twisting Church teaching on the topic of homosexuality. The “condition” of homosexuality is not sinful in and of itself, but actions of a homosexual nature are. No, Bishop and Father, two same sex individuals cannot “marry”, and their mortally sinful sexual relationships will lead them to hell. Many saints have said that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops, frightening, yet understandable.

    • Kristin … I don’t believe either Fr. martin or Bishop McElroy have ever argued a) That same gender sexual activity wasn’t a sin or b) supported gay marriage.

      • Fr. Martin’s September 20 YouTube video claims that chastity is not binding on the faithful if they do not accept it. He also says that attending a same sex so-called wedding is no different than going to a Jewish one. Then there’s that comment to a homosexual person concerning their upcoming “wedding”, says “your love is beautiful”, rather than mortally sinful as he might have done if he were opposed to such an abomination. Bishop McElroy allows dissident homosexual groups to have gay themed Masses and in an interview with America magazine, believes Catholics who reject homosexual sin just don’t “comprehend the totality of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality”. Obviously, he doesn’t object to this particular kind of sin,…

      • C&H you are wrong Martin has made that claim.

  2. The Real Ralph says:

    Except that when “persons” personally publish purported Catholic books and distribute them far and wide that do nothing to proclaim the truth of the Church’s teaching on a particular topic (homosexuality or otherwise), and instead endlessly babble on about respect for people who do unspeakable things, thereby causing scandal and the loss of souls, why shouldn’t these “persons” be attacked “personally”? After all, they personally did these things. We don’t have to call Martin a pansy, but calling the things he does “pansified” is the least of Martin’s problems. “Whoever shall cause one of these little to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were tied about his neck and he were cast into the sea.” Bon Voyage!

  3. Look, at all of the ongoing dialogue, charitably being given to individuals who refuse to openly admit that it is certain sinful actions that they want everyone to welcome and embrace. They have been able to hide their true agenda by claiming they “they” are not welcome. Nothing could be further from the truth! The coddling of that lie has now brought us to shepherds who now openly promote certain sinful actions. Please read the story in the link below. See what happens when individuals are seduced by many different types of sins that without repentance can ultimately lead us to our self-destruction.


  4. St. Christopher says:

    Come on. Homosexual sexualists — you know, sodomites — and their enablers exist to do one thing: make the Church’s teachings reflect the permissibility, if not outright favor, of the act of sodomy. They do not want to reconcile with the Church, that has always been possible. Nope, they demand that the Pope and all others bow towards their absolute right to commit sodomy and whatever else they do, with as many people as they wish.

    This talk of “respect” and “mercy” and “compassion” is the language of liars. Christ is always there to forgive and redirect the sinner; we have all been there. But, Fr. Martin and his protectors are wrong to suggest that sodomy is acceptable in any way. The men who do this awful thing are moral…

    • SC … “This talk of “respect” and “mercy” and “compassion” is the language of liars” How can you say that.?This is the exact wording of the Catechisim. Fr. Martin’s book (did you read it) does not contradict the teaching that sex is morally limited to husband and wife. Also women don’t and can’t commit sodomy. Are you throwing the word around so loosely and wildly just to make people angry?

  5. St. Christopher says:

    (Part Deux) ” . . . outliers and deserve to be. The Faith of Our Fathers has not, and does not, and will not accept consenting sodomites with any recognition of being faithful to the Christ and His Church. And, now, Fr. Martin is trying to say that the Church’s teaching of “chastity” for homosexuals does not count if it is not “accepted.” He is wrong; homosexuals do not control the moral value of the Church’s teachings by whether they consent to them or not. The act of sodomy is not sacramental, or of any kind of superior moral value. Fr. Martin is a vile man who teaches vile things; time to call him, and his pals, on this. They all belong in Gehenna.

  6. Bishop McElroy recently fired the man + wife who had taught the class on marriage for years and years at the Diocese of San Diego. Their names are Ralph Skiano (a permanent deacon) + his wife Peggy.
    The Skianos believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Many people in San Diego now believe that, instead of promoting traditional marriage, McElroy has been working to promote “approval” for the mortal sin of sodomy (homosexual + perverted acts).
    McElroy recently established an office for LGBT outreach in the Diocese of San Diego.

  7. Thank you for a well thought out response to the Bishop’s defense of Fr. Martin and his dangerous ideas.

  8. Has Fr. Martin ever disclosed if he is homosexual or not?

    • Does he need to? Come on. Nodoby’s gaydar can be that defective.

    • No, he has not. Interestingly, and quite amazingly, he has been ordered not to discuss his personal sexuality. That speaks volumes.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Why is that relevant? Has Cardinal Burke told us whether or not he is homosexual? after all, he writes on the subject? pope Emmeritus Benedict? He has too! What about Pope Saint John Paul. Has he told us whether or not he was a homosexual?

      • YFC, here’s the relevant difference. Father Martin holds that homosexual genital acts can be morally acceptable, even holy. Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and Cardinal Burke, have always and publicly held that such acts are ALWAYS intrinsically evil in the objective order. C’mon, don’t try to “fun” us. You knew that full well before you wrote your comment. So take a wild guess. Which of them is most likely to be grinding a personal axe, arising from their own homosexuality?

        • Anon … I just finished the book. I don’t recall his saying “hat homosexual genital acts can be morally acceptable, ” Can you point me to where it is in “Bridge” or other writings of his?

          • 10 points for actually reading the book. Can you verify that there is nothing contrary to Church teaching in the book?

          • Dear C&H— Father Martin has often written (and spoken) that homoerotic relationships can exhibit true, praiseworthy love. Do you really think that he is speaking only of celibate relationships of same sex couples who are living together in intimate relationships? He sure doesn’t make that distinction. And he writes with favor about same-sex marriage. Is that enough “proof” for you. Don’t be disingenuous.

        • Please quote your source for Fr. Martin’s alleged beliefs about homosexual genital acts. Even Voris and Sciambra haven’t accused him of that.

          • Anon … I’m not a moral theologian, but from what I read there was nothing contrary to Church teaching. What he seems to be saying is that the problem is how it’s expressed, or rather mis-expressed when it comes to LGBT. The way some on CCD wave the word “Sodomite”
            around like a sword is a good example. BTW most Catholics I know are opposed to gay civil marriage but at the same time feel that some clergy and lay groups go way overboard. Look at some of the more extreme postings here. This may be what Fr. Martin is trying to say

          • More hogwash, Martin wants total acceptance of homosexuals on his terms i.e gay marriage so called, and sodomy to be on par with the marital act between husband and wife. It always word games with men like Martin, be vague, but the real message across, he is a liar and a deceiver

    • The Real Ralph says:

      He’s a Jesuit, that’s about all the insight one should need. The order has paid out a quarter BILLION dollars in abuse settlements, overwhelmingly related to same-sex conduct. The order is dominated by homosexuals and their supporters. Martin is one or the other, and if he weren’t, he wouldn’t be in the position he’s in.

  9. Inquiries into Fr. Martin’s personal sexual orientation seem to be an effort to create an ad hominem argument. I believe one should concentrate solely on the good Father’s writings and public statements.

    • Maybe it is ad hominem argument. So what? The fact is that homosexuals are fundamentally incompatible for the priesthood. If a homosexual person does enter the priesthood they do so through deceit. If Fr Martin is a homosexual, the “good Father” should be laicized.

  10. Does anyone still want to support this bishop monetarily?
    Our message is louder if we simply stop tithing to him.
    There are other worthy causes.

  11. Linda Maria says:

    I think that Bishop McElroy and Fr. Martin should be required by the Catholic Church to fully accept, and to teach, preach, and evangelize, all of our Church’s teachings, if they wish to be in the Catholic clergy– or else, leave!! They ought to be real busy starting up “Courage” groups all over the country, if they want to help Catholic “LGBT’s!!” That is their true and honest duty, as Catholic clergy!!

  12. Bishop McElroy is a master word smith and proponent of his opinions as truth. I have had private discussions with him on two occasions and was shocked at his assertions of his opinions against truths that I learned in the seminary regarding the need for conversion from homosexual acts and regarding the internal forum. The fact that he has a red hat gives him power, and a voice that would have been ignored when he was simply a parish priest in San Mateo where I knew him formerly. I grant him respect for his office. I will continue to follow scripture and Tradition over his proclamations, and continue to pray for him several times a day.

    • The internal forum solution for heterosexual or for homosexual union or both?
      It is a hopeful sign that you learned the truth in seminary.
      I like priests that stick to the teachings of the Faith.

    • The Real Ralph says:

      He was 1-2 class years behind me at Our Lady of Angels grammar school in Burlingame (in San Mateo County). His older sister, who became a nun, I believe, was in my class. It was all the same era when other classmates later ran off to join Jim Jones in Guyana (and died). The school is/was run by the Sisters of Mercy, whose main convent is only a mile away. Mentally, it was the era went the wheels first came off the bus, so to speak, the Haight Ashbury was proliferating and pot was rampant when this era of kids hit high school. Just a lot of very weird ducks wandering around. People like McElroy renounced the faith and follow their own religion. Somehow, I survived.

  13. Thank you Bishop McElroy for your courageous leadership! As Scripture teaches,”God is love”! Those who promote hate are not really Christians.

    • The Real Ralph says:

      Neither are those who promote sin. Those who correct them are not haters, they’re performing a spiritual act of mercy. You need to brush up on your Catechism – it sounds like you’ve rejected it in favor of your own made-up religion.

    • Look folks Patrick is a tolerant liberal, there is no sin in hating sin..

  14. Deacon Russell sees himself sitting down with Molotov and Ribbentrop, then returning to declare “peace for our time.” He is of a very believing nature.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.