Card. Sarah schools Jesuit homosexualist activist James Martin

Cardinal_Robert_SarahRobert Card. Sarah has corrected homosexualist activist Jesuit James Martin, SJ., in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

How Catholics Can Welcome LGBT Believers
It’s possible to stay faithful to the church’s teachings without turning away millions.
By Cardinal Robert Sarah

The Catholic Church has been criticized by many, including some of its own followers, [including Jesuit James Martin, SJ] for its pastoral response to the LGBT community. This criticism deserves a reply—not to defend the Church’s practices reflexively, but to determine whether we, as the Lord’s disciples, are reaching out effectively to a group in need. Christians must always strive to follow the new commandment Jesus gave at the Last Supper: “Love one another, even as I have loved you.”

To love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in the truth. “For this I was born,” Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “to bear witness to the truth.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects this insistence on honesty, stating that the church’s message to the world must “reveal in all clarity the joy and demands of the way of Christ.

Those who speak on behalf of the church must be faithful to the unchanging teachings of Christ, because only through living in harmony with God’s creative design do people find deep and lasting fulfillment. Jesus described his own message in these terms, saying in the Gospel of John: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Catholics believe that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church draws its teachings upon the truths of Christ’s message.

Among Catholic priests, one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality is Father James Martin, an American Jesuit. In his book “Building a Bridge,” published earlier this year, he repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers.

Father Martin is correct to argue that there should not be any double standard with regard to the virtue of chastity, which, challenging as it may be, is part of the good news of Jesus Christ for all Christians. For the unmarried—no matter their attractions—faithful chastity requires abstention from sex.

This might seem a high standard, especially today. Yet it would be contrary to the wisdom and goodness of Christ to require something that cannot be achieved. Jesus calls us to this virtue because he has made our hearts for purity, just as he has made our minds for truth. With God’s grace and our perseverance, chastity is not only possible, but it will also become the source for true freedom.

We do not need to look far to see the sad consequences of the rejection of God’s plan for human intimacy and love. The sexual liberation the world promotes does not deliver its promise. Rather, promiscuity is the cause of so much needless suffering, of broken hearts, of loneliness, and of treatment of others as means for sexual gratification. As a mother, the church seeks to protect her children from the harm of sin, as an expression of her pastoral charity.

In her teaching about homosexuality, the church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions. First there are the people themselves, who are always good because they are children of God. Then there are same-sex attractions, which are not sinful if not willed or acted upon but are nevertheless at odds with human nature. And finally there are same-sex relations, which are gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them. People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church about this complex and difficult topic.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

It is my prayer that the world will finally heed the voices of Christians who experience same-sex attractions and who have discovered peace and joy by living the truth of the Gospel. I have been blessed by my encounters with them, and their witness moves me deeply. I wrote the foreword to one such testimony, Daniel Mattson’s book, “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace,” [US HERE – UK HERE] with the hope of making his and similar voices better heard.

These men and women testify to the power of grace, the nobility and resilience of the human heart, and the truth of the church’s teaching on homosexuality. In many cases, they have lived apart from the Gospel for a period but have been reconciled to Christ and his church. Their lives are not easy or without sacrifice. Their same-sex inclinations have not been vanquished. But they have discovered the beauty of chastity and of chaste friendships. Their example deserves respect and attention, because they have much to teach all of us about how to better welcome and accompany our brothers and sisters in authentic pastoral charity.

Cardinal Sarah is prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Appeared in the September 1, 2017, print edition.

As a counterpoint, Jesuit-run organ of Jesuitical apologetics, Amerika Magazine, has Fr James Martin’s response to Card. Sarah’s WSJ piece.  Here is some.

First, Martin declared victory because someone listened to him.  Well, whoopdeedo.


“Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed inaccurately states that my book is critical of church teaching, which it is not. Nor am I,” Father Martin said.

Is that so?

Martin thinks that the language of the Catechism of the Catholic Church ought to be changed, that’s all.  Of course, change the language, and you change the meaning of the paragraph.

What Martin proposes is that the Church stop calling homosexual acts disordered and rather call them “different”.  The are “differently ordered”.


At Catholic World Report an Evangelical writer responded to Martin in regard to the “Nashville Statement”.


Martin’s tweets confirm the by-now widely held perception, reinforced repeatedly by Martin himself, that his raison d’etre involves undermining the Catholic Church’s upholding of Jesus’ teaching on a male-female foundation for sexual ethics, upon which Jesus’ teaching about the binary character of marriage (twoness) is based.

A consideration of Martin’s “seven ways” of responding to the Nashville Statement (an evangelical declaration that affirms “that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness” (Article 10)) underscore the truncated gospel (or even anti-gospel) with which Martin operates.


The bottom line is this: Fr. Martin is using—or even abusing—his office to undermine what for Jesus was a foundational standard for sexual ethics.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    There is only one “natural order” which reflects “divine order”. Calling something that is inherently disordered “differently ordered” implies that it’s “order” remains intact. “Different” is a good in itself or at least “okay” by today’s progressive usage of the word. “Unity in diversity” and all that. Calling buggery “differently ordered” will be understood as objective approval by every modern person.

  2. SaintJude6 says:

    Thank you for posting this. I read two of Martin’s earlier books (pre-Francis, before he went off the rails), and even those just didn’t ring true. He always came across as someone who had entered the priesthood with an agenda, not a calling. I don’t think I can describe this accurately, but when I read his comments or see his picture, I just get a sense of something demonic. Men like him are why my son will not be seeking admission to a diocesan seminary. It’s a traditional order (where they still preach against the “San Francisco lifestyle”) or nothing.

  3. DeGaulle says:

    ‘Order’ is the exact opposite of ‘disorder’. Whether the order concerned is of a ‘different’ kind, it is still order. The use of an adjective does not mask what Martin is playing at. He wishes to call a bad thing a good thing.

  4. Lavrans says:

    It is beginning to feel like Fr. Martin’s fifteen minutes of fame is about to expire.

  5. PhilipNeri says:

    Fr. Martin’s call for “dialogue” reminds me too much of my days in the suicidal Episcopal Church. Everyone was “dialoguing” while the revolutionaries were busy dismantling the faith.

    Whenever I hear a cleric or religious start pushing for “dialogue,” I start watching for the sledgehammers and bulldozers.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  6. TonyO says:

    Hurrah for Cardinal Sarah!

    Or maybe that should be: Harah for Sarah!

    And hurrah for WSJ for publishing it. Almost surprising, I would have thought they would prefer to duck and cover for any editorial attitude that does not completely agree with the
    KGB-LTQNZFBRD zeitgeist, rather than put up an article (a reasonable one, too) that says something else.

  7. sibnao says:

    Just within my personal acquaintance are three different families dealing with children who have declared themselves gay and/or “transgender,” and let me tell all pastors out there that they do NO FAVORS by avoiding the truth about God’s plan for human sexuality. These young people are confused, unhappy, living a life totally divorced from reality and peace; their families are crushed with worry and guilt. Their parents feel completely helpless to pull their children out of the toxic stew they’re sinking into.

    These precious children collected dandelions for their moms and made forts out of couch cushions. They went fishing, read “Curious George,” helped make cookies, and were taken to church to learn about our Lord, who wants for them eternal wholeness and happiness. These kids got infected by the virus of sexual confusion, and the most loving thing to do for them is to call them back to where peace and health and strength are, and to heal them through the sacraments. You want to accompany? Walk them back into the light with your prayers and preaching.

    Dearest priests, speak plainly and with love for the truth. What would you rather, the suffering of self-denial that these kids must face in order to live chastely, or the suffering of absolute degradation and black emptiness that they will face if they continue their life of confusion and sin?

    Sometimes I wish that pastors WERE biological fathers, so they could experience the true urgency that surrounds the battle for souls.

  8. Scout says:

    Regarding Fr. Martin’s “differently ordered” versus the catechism’s “objectively disordered“…

    Crisis Magazine
    JULY 14, 2017
    Fr. Martin’s Grammar Problem
    Robert B. Greving

  9. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “Do I hear an ‘Amen’?”

    Not only ‘Amen,’ but ‘Hallelujah!'”

  10. iamlucky13 says:

    This is an excellent editorial by Cardinal Sarah. He doesn’t attack. He responds graciously and precisely, acknowledging what is correct and clarifying what is mistaken.

    I still have difficulty really grasping that Fr. Martin called our sense of sexual attraction “one of the deepest parts of a person—the part that gives and receives love.”

  11. Pingback: SATVRDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

  12. Ed the Roman says:

    I would ask Father Martin if there is such a thing as a disordered appetite. And I’d ask for examples.
    And I’d ask if appetites that aren’t disordered may be acted on.
    But I think the conversation would be one-sided.
    He’s working very hard to avoid overtly saying that he thinks the Biblical prohibitions and the teaching of the Church are mistaken. But I don’t see that he leaves any other possibility about his thinking credible.

  13. Chuck says:

    Listening to EWTN on a topic unrelated to this a mention was made of Pope Pius XII’s Humani generis. Reading through it, in the second paragraph was slapped in the face with this nugget “Hence men easily persuade themselves in such matters that what they do not wish to believe is false or at least doubtful.” Mind. Blown.

  14. yatzer says:

    I had the same experience with the Episcopal Church as did Philip Neri, and fled to the Catholic Church as well. Don’t even talk to me about “dialogue” . It’s nothing more than a stalling tactic.

    I have 3 young people in my family who have announced they are gay or lesbian. One is in almost complete despair and the other two are in better but not good, shape. Why did this become the lifestyle du jour?

  15. Rich says:

    It’s ironic how these people purport to promote dialogue in this area, yet as soon as Card. Sarah offers a sincere attempt at just that, they have no response but this whiney, perpetual playing of the victim card that Card. Sarah criticized Fr. Martin’s book when he really didn’t. The only time Card. Sarah mentioned the book was when he wrote that in it, Fr. Martin indicates an apparent double standard on the Church’s part in upholding its teachings on sexuality.

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Cdl. Sarah. And thanks to the WSJ, I’m a bit surprised they published this.

  17. BARSTL says:

    Calling the magazine Fr. Martin edits “Amerika” instead of “America” is uncivil. Make the argument and leave name-calling to those who have no argument to make.

    [We can multitask here.   o{]:¬)   The “k” is rather gentle, if you ask me. BTW… welcome aboard with your first contribution in the combox. That was sort of like walking into my living room and, without even saying “Hello!”, criticizing the decor. Such civility!]

Comments are closed.