More on Fr. James Martin’s wickedly stupid remark

Over at Catholic Culture, the perspicacious Phil Lawler has pointed words for Fr. James Martin, the Jesuit obsessed with homosexual advocacy.

No, not every lifestyle is sinful

Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful,” Father James Martin told the New York Times.

That statement is outrageous. In a sane world, Father Martin’s Jesuit superiors would order him to apologize. [That’ll be the day.]

We are all sinners; we are all sinful. But we are not all engaged in sinful ways of life.  [Precisely.]

The awkward word “lifestyle” complicates things here. In his conversation with the New York Times, Father Martin was speaking—as he so frequently does—about the homosexual “lifestyle.” [I think we know what he means by it.] But how can one generalize about the “style” of the lives of homosexuals, except by reference to homosexual activities, which are sinful?  [Exactly.]

By contrast, a single person living a chaste life is not engaged in a sinful lifestyle. A cloistered nun, her daily activities structured by the rhythms of prayer, is not engaged in a sinful lifestyle. Nor are married people, devoted faithfully to their spouses and their children.

Are all these people sinners? Certainly. But it is not their way of life—their “lifestyle,” if we must use that term—that is sinful. Not every “lifestyle” is equal in the eyes of God. Marriage, the priesthood, and religious life are not neutral “lifestyle” choices. They are inherently good, blessed, even sacramental. That a Catholic priest would suggest otherwise is, again, outrageous.

It’s possible, I suppose, that the chaste single person could be selling illegal drugs, or the faithful spouse could be embezzling corporate funds. Then it would be fair and accurate to say that they were engaged in sinful lifestyles. And then it would be fair and just for pastors to confront them, to demand that they change their ways. [By Martin’s logic, the unjust employer, the serial rapist and the mafia hitman shouldn’t be told that they have to change their “lifestyle”.]

In the event described in the New York Times story, Cardinal Joseph Tobin welcomed homosexuals to the cathedral in Newark. The cardinal rejected as “backhanded” the notion that perhaps he should challenge the homosexual visitors to live in accordance with the teachings of Christ. “It was appropriate to welcome people to come and pray and call them who they were,” he said. “And later on, we can talk.”

[QUAERITUR:] But when will “later on” finally arrive, and what will be said if and when that talk finally takes place?

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  1. Joy65 says:

    All we can do is pray for him and HOPE that he is open to the guidance of The Holy Spirit.

  2. thomas tucker says:

    I think we can be pretty confident that the “later on” will never arrive. And in the interim, the behavior becomes normalized and accepted. This is a sea change in how the Church has always dealt with sinful behavior. Not, mind you, sinful behavior in people who are repentant, but sinful behavior in people who are unrepentant and, indeed, refuse to even recognize that the behavior is a sin in the first place. The Cardinal’s reply is quite disingenuous. I really don’t know what to make of what’s going on. In Rorate Coeli today is an article by sandro Magister detailing the new commission that is st up to “reinterpret” Humanae vitae. I am very discouraged and I have to say that if the Church changes its fundamental teachings on homosexuality or artificial contraception, I will never trust it again.

  3. Adaquano says:

    Do you think Father, that many of these liberals are not necessarily so much libertine, but rather espousing a modernist twist on total depravity? You hear of such talk about difficulty living up to ideals so we’ll just relax the rules, because you can’t help but not sin.

  4. greenlight says:

    The underlying problem seems to have little to do with Fr. Martin. There will always be Fr. Martins in one form or another. Ten years ago it was merely a scandal that he was peddling his nonsense unrebuked. Now he has (apparently) the blessing of the Holy Father. Who am I to tell him he’s wrong? That’s the problem.

    I think we need to shift our focus from the latest outrages by the latest dissidents and start asking the hard questions about who gives them the clearance to say these things. Anymore, I’m not as scandalized by Fr. Martin as I am by those who authorize him.

  5. Peter Stuart says:

    His church is not the Church into which I was baptized and in which Catholics like me seek grace in our struggles with SSA every day. (Including days like yesterday that didn’t end well at all for me.) But it looks like it’ll keep being his church that makes all the noise and gets all the attention while most of his fellow Jesuits and most bishops (in the West anyhow) leave us to rot. So it goes.

  6. CrimsonCatholic says:

    “But Cardinal Tobin’s welcome to Mass on May 21 has been the most significant of such recent gestures, because of the symbolism of a cardinal welcoming a group of gay Catholics, some of whom were married to same-sex spouses, to participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the center of a cathedral, no questions asked.” – From the referenced NYT article

    This is incredibly sad for all involved. Lord, have mercy on us.

    New Ways Ministry should be avoided, and Courage International should supported in the dioceses.

  7. Joe Magarac says:

    I think there’s another way to interpret Martin’s comment.

    It’s that most Catholic Churches are full of “straight” people who are cohabiting, contracepting, or both. Literally every married couple that my wife and I know in our parish got sterilized or went back on the pill after their second or third kid.

    These people are in lifestyles that, if I have read my Catechism right, are just as sinful as a gay lifestyle. My parish is full of them, and I bet Fr. Martin knows many in Manhattan.

    If you’re in situations like mine, or his, then it can seem like only slightly an overstatement to say that “pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful.”

    I am no fan of Fr. Martin or his order. I wish that the Church would be – and would be perceived as being – just as tough on contracepting couples as on gay couples. But until that happy day, I think comments like “pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful” will resonate with many readers.

  8. tradition4all says:

    I recently attended the priestly ordination of a college friend who is now a Jesuit. As a gift, I gave my friend a Pope Clement XIV mug, which sat out on a table during the reception following the ordination (many a truth was communicated in jest). Fr. Martin happened to attend the reception. I hope that he saw the mug and understood it.

  9. comedyeye says:

    James Martin is not rebuked because his superiors agree with him. Now where did I read about the end times where a mock church would be established that would mimic the real one?

  10. BetsyRheaume says:

    I’m glad Father Martin acknowledges that the homosexual lifestyle is a sinful lifestyle. That he isn’t helping them to avoid sin is something he will be accountable for.

  11. benedetta says:

    Many of us have tried to follow this relativist spirituality, in good faith, listening to it and trying to put it into practice, only to discover how horribly unhealthy it is for our selves, our souls, our families, for children. I get why this teaching wants to eliminate the Gospel as the standard for examination of conscience and growth in the virtues and changing sinful habits, progressing in divinization, to some extent, but then inevitably one finds some justifications incoherent, like the bulwark dogma in their activism that abortion is necessary and even a “good”, or that one must remain silent in its horrors, or that one can and should be threatened for defending life or engaging in good faith dialogue on things like corruption in the Church, even when their own leaders assert that they desire this dialogue and want to listen and be flexible to and responsive to the will of the people and helping the most vulnerable, to protecting…But inevitably when you gut of objective morality a mob morality mentality is substituted. Their own leaders continue to be involved in harassing others who are innocent, why? It failed as a political programme, it doesn’t help Catholics, gay or straight, it doesn’t unify the Church but harms it. Obviously there are some real heinous “sins” this group activises about constantly including, well one’s sacrosanct vote. Who gets to be on that secret elite core committee or group with the large mouthpiece that gets to decide what the latest sins are that we should condemn, who the latest are that we should harass? Why can’t this group if it is so compassionate and tolerant call off the dogs on harassment of innocents in their name and in the name of “progress”?

    No one alleges that the Church is not sinful, nor as a human institution a “perfect” institution. The notion that it must be is the idea of the evil one. But as to determining as a believer and seeker and pray-er, which of my actions constitute sin or not, give me a verifiable text or a few or many, any day, over a powerful, entitled, elitist, wealthy and resourced, group of well white clericalist males, any day.

    Some say that because Jesus did so many things that this justifies special ministries. Fair enough. Jesus didn’t teach those people, such as Zaccheus, or tax collectors, or exploited women, to take their revenge on the pharisees by harassing them and their families mercilessly and then justifying it over twitter or in so many ways. No, in fact, he seemed to have encouraged them to reconcile and be united. Both or all sorts of those people who were on the peripheries, whom some call or regard as more or less big time sinners.

    The other weekend, at Auriesville I was praying the Stations of the Cross, and, I was particularly struck by the time over that excruciating Way of the Cross when Jesus spoke to “the women”. Probably because all the “groups” of humans he encountered, he knew that above all, the women, the mothers, were particularly loved by God, and would need that organizing principle, that strength, to continue to be active in the truth…


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