Wherein Fr. Z responds to some points made by Bp. McElroy

OLFatima-200In the English speaking world, in the wake of the withdrawal of speaking gig invitations to Jesuit Father James Martin, Jesuits and their allies have coagulated.  They now pour it on,  to create a critical mass of hatred against those Catholics who stick up for clear traditional moral teaching.  That means that their well-established Big Jesuit Machine, and those who aid and abet their agendas, are picking on the little guy who dares to raise their heads to object.

At the Jesuit-operated organ Amerika I saw on 18 September an op-ed by San Diego’s (Berkeley Jesuit trained) Bishop Robert McElroy:

Bishop McElroy: Attacks on Father James Martin expose a cancer within the U.S. Catholic Church

The “C” word.  No, that’s not dramatic. But, hey, he got your attention.

Let’s have a look at His Excellency’s piece with my usual emphases and comments.

Father James Martin is a distinguished Jesuit author who has spent his life building bridges within the Catholic Church and between the church and the wider world. He has been particularly effective in bringing the Gospel message to the millennial generation. When we survey the vast gulf that exists between young adults and the church in the United States, it is clear that there could be no more compelling missionary outreach for the future of Catholicism than the terrain that Father Martin has passionately and eloquently pursued over the past two decades. There are few evangelizers who have engaged that terrain with more heart and skill and devotion.  [We are not going to admit the premise that that there is a “vast gulf that exists between young adults and the church” in the traditional community. As one writer put it recently, tradition is for the young.  In one “old Mass” community after another, you find a predominance of young people, growing in numbers with new families. While some promote this sort of outreach, others promote outreach through defending homosexuality.]

Last year Father Martin undertook a particularly perilous project in this work of evangelization: building bridges between the church and the L.G.B.T. community in the United States. He entered it knowing that the theological issues pertaining to homosexuality constituted perhaps the most volatile element of ecclesial life in U.S. culture.  [To me, “evangelization” includes the content of our Catholic Faith.  If the bishop thinks that talking about homosexuality is perilous, I invite him to step into the shoes of those whom he is about to condemn and try the increasingly perilous activity of defending the Church’s doctrine on faith and morals.]

It was this very volatility that spurred Father Martin to write his new book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity. Using a methodology that is fully consonant with Catholic teaching, [Is it? Is innuendo part of that methodology?  For example, when you look at the preview available through Amazon (they almost always provide a brief sample), after his dedication Martin has an “epigraph” citing Ps 139, “For it was you who formed my inner parts”.  This can be nothing other than the innuendo that people who have same-sex attraction are made that was by God, and, if they are made that way by God, then what they do is okay. In that “epitaph” Martin doesn’t say that, but his meaning is clear.] employing Scripture, the rich pastoral heritage of the church and an unadulterated realism [?] that makes clear both the difficulty and the imperative for establishing deeper dialogue, Father Martin opens 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.

Building a Bridge is a serious book, [Janet Smith pointed out that it is pretty short, being “essentially an expanded talk”.  HERE] and any such work invites substantive criticism and dialogue. This is particularly true with a complex subject like the relationship of the L.G.B.T. community and the church. Many analyses of Father Martin’s arguments have pointed to important problems that do not have easy answers and to the reality that dialogue must always proceed both in respect and in truth.

But alongside this legitimate and substantive criticism of Father Martin’s book, there has arisen both in Catholic journals and on social media a campaign to vilify Father Martin, to distort his work, to label him heterodox, to assassinate his personal character and to annihilate both the ideas and the dialogue that he has initiated.  [Of course no one would want to do that.  No one would want to suggest that people who have different ideas are, for example, a disease involving abnormal cell growth.]

This campaign of distortion must be challenged and exposed for what it is—not primarily for Father Martin’s sake but because this cancer of vilification is seeping into the institutional life of the church. [Finally, we get to it.] Already, several major institutions have canceled Father Martin as a speaker. Faced with intense external pressures, these institutions have bought peace, but in doing so they have acceded to and reinforced a tactic and objectives that are deeply injurious to Catholic culture in the United States and to the church’s pastoral care for members of the L.G.B.T. communities. [We know that the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher begged off.  The national major seminary called Theological College at CUA begged off.  However, so did the Bishops of England and Wales, who found a way to beg off having Fr. Martin address Cafod.  These are not insignificant institutions.]

The concerted attack on Father Martin’s work has been driven by three impulses: homophobia, a distortion of fundamental Catholic moral theology and a veiled attack on Pope Francis and his campaign against judgmentalism in the church.

The attacks on Building a Bridge tap into long-standing bigotry within the church and U.S. culture against members of the L.G.B.T. community. The persons launching these attacks portray the reconciliation of the church and the L.G.B.T. community not as a worthy goal but as a grave cultural, religious and familial threat. Gay sexual activity is seen not as one sin among others but as uniquely debased to the point that L.G.B.T. persons are to be effectively excluded from the family of the church. Pejorative language and labels are deployed regularly and strategically. The complex issues of sexual orientation and its discernment in the life of the individual are dismissed and ridiculed.  [Go back through that and substitute the term “Tradition Loving Catholics” or “T.L.C.”, and make an appropriate adjustment.  That’s how the catholic Left treats the T.L.C. community.*  Also, while I think we all admit that we can all treat all people better, I must add that telling people that their sins are not sins is not a way to treat them well!]

The coordinated attack on Building a Bridge must be a wake-up call for the Catholic community to look inward and purge itself of bigotry against the L.G.B.T. community. [Interesting word choice: purge  What comes to mind immediately?  The German philosopher Paul de Lagarde wrote, “I have long been convinced that Jewry constitutes the cancer in all of our life; as Jews, they are strangers in any European state and as such they are nothing but spreaders of decay.” ] If we do not, we will build a gulf between the church and L.G.B.T. men and women and their families. Even more important, we will build an increasing gulf between the church and our God. [And if prelates of dioceses don’t embrace what St. John Paul II commanded by his Apostolic authority and show respect to traditional Catholics and give a wide and generous application of the legislation concerning traditional expressions of our liturgical worship, they are responsible for a widening gulf between the church and our God and will perhaps even contribute to real schism.]

[This is where I have some real concerns.] The second corrosive impulse of the campaign against Building a Bridge flows from a distortion of Catholic moral theology. The goal of the Catholic moral life is to pattern our lives after that of Jesus Christ. [Augustine reminds us that Christ, being perfect, isn’t the best model for us.  He recommended the lives of the saints.  But… let this pass.] We must model our interior and exterior selves on the virtues of faith, love, hope, mercy, compassion, integrity, sacrifice, prayerfulness, humility, prudence and more. One of these virtues is chastity. Chastity is a very important virtue of the Christian moral life. The disciple is obligated to confine genital sexual activity to marriage.

[You could hear this next word coming, right?] But 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.  [Let’s be clear about this.  The Bishop just wrote that chastity, which “very important” does NOT have a “singularly powerful role” in determining our moral character or our relationship with God.]

This distortion of our faith [namely, that chastity has a “singularly powerful role”] cripples many of our discussions of sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. [I think he means that we shouldn’t insist in our discussion that homosexuals abstain from same-sex acts.] The overwhelming prism [the things that project rainbows?] through which we should look at our moral lives is that we are all called to live out the virtues of Christ; [Okaaaaay.  Christ was chaste. Christ was not a homosexual.  Also, Christ’s exemplary display of virtue in Scripture did not exclude the flipping of tables and the whipping of people with cords.] we all succeed magnificently at some and fail at others. [I admit that I haven’t been good at whipping people with cords lately.] Those who emphasize the incompatibility of gay men or lesbian women living meaningfully within the church [WOAH!  Who says that?  That’s smacks of the proverbial straw man.] are ignoring the multidimensional nature of the Christian life of virtue or the sinfulness of us all or both.  [WOW.  There is a lot to unpack here.  As Janet Smith mentioned in her critic of James Martin’s “expanded talk”, it takes a lot of words to examine something that is briefly put.  I’ll comment further, below.]

The third impulse behind the campaign against Building a Bridge arises from a rejection of the pastoral theology that Pope Francis has brought into the heart of the church. Regarding the issue of homosexuality, in particular, many of those attacking Father Martin simply cannot forgive the Holy Father for uttering that historic phrase on the plane: “Who am I to judge?” The controversy over Building a Bridge is really a debate about whether we are willing to banish judgmentalism from the life of the church. Pope Francis continually reminds us that the Lord unceasingly called the disciples to reject the temptation to judge others, precisely because it is a sin so easy for us all to fall into and one so injurious to the life of the church. [I think we can dismiss this out of hand.  Criticisms of James Martin’s agenda have nothing to do with Pope Francis.  Gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.]

The gulf between the L.G.B.T. community and the church is not primarily based on orientation; it is a gulf created by judgmentalism on both sides. [No. We don’t accept this premise.  The gulf is not based on the orientation of homosexuals towards people of the same sex (which the CCC restates is “disordered”, and not just “different”.  The gulf is a matter of excusing or permitting or exalting homosexual acts.  And as far as both sides are concerned, I haven’t seen a lot of outreach from the other side.] That is the real starting point for a dialogue between the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. community in the United States today. Father Martin should be thanked for pointing to this reality, not shunned. [I don’t see how not being invited – or being dis-invited is “shunning”.  If that is the case, then I’ll be waiting for the Bishop’s article about how I’VE been treated recently by a certain important prelate with whom he is often grouped.]

I want to go back to that part about chastity.  The Bishop carefully makes a statement about genital acts, etc.  Fine.  He is a Catholic bishop, after all.  He says that chastity is “very important” However, he says in the next paragraph that chastity does NOT have a singularly powerful role in determining our moral character or our relationship with God.

Much depends on what he means by “singular”.   “Singular” usually means “extraordinary, remarkable”.  “That was a singular accomplishment!”, one might say.  Only lower on the list of possible meanings does “singular” mean “unique”, as if to say, “the only one that matters”.  I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it sounds to me as if McElroy meant to say that chastity does NOT have an “extraordinarily powerful role” in determining our moral character, etc.

Does that sound right to you?

I think that chastity does have an extraordinarily powerful role in our moral lives and our relations with God and others.  I also think that – and it may be that the Bishop was trying to get to this – sins of the flesh are NOT the worst sins that we can commit.  But to write something like that… that chastity is NOT singularly important… to my mind is at least imprudent.

What do I mean?

In a nutshell, the worst sins we commit are the spiritual rather than the carnal, wherein we  – poor wounded humans that we are – succumb to our passions and appetites.  However, the Church is right to place such an emphasis on carnal sins because of how easily we can fall into them and how they numb us to sin, make us stupid, and open us to worse sins.  Our passions and appetites are so very dangerous because they are so seductive.  They quickly draw us away from our ultimate and best end, and thus, by them we damn ourselves.  Remember: carnal sins are enough to lose heaven!  You know the Seven Deadly Sins.  They are called “Deadly” for good reason.

The other thing I thought about as I read the Bishop’s unfortunate phrase is that Our Lady of Fatima warned about sins against chastity.

Our Lady said:

“More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”

That was exactly 100 years ago.  Human nature hasn’t changed since then and sins against chastity are far more widespread now than they were then and even more horrifying.  It sound to me as if the Mother of God thinks that chastity is more than “very important”.  It might even be “singularly” important, given the stakes.

Sr. Lucia explained that Mary was referring primarily to sins of impurity.  Even if sins of impurity are not the worst among the sins that we can commit, they are grave and very common.  Sins of impurity, sins against chastity, are often not confessed well because there is a great sense of shame for committing certain impure acts – especially impure acts of a disordered nature with someone of the same sex, and, hence, a greater difficulty in confessing all of them in the sacrament of penance.  These days, with pornography everywhere and women and girls dressing with spectacular immodesty, and with the massive “pro gay” media campaign going on EVEN IN THE CHURCH we have a dangerous spiritual hurricane ripping souls from God.

However, we are NEVER called to do the impossible!  To suggest that would be a violation of God’s promises.  Christ said, “What is impossible with men is possible with  God.” (Lk 18:27)

In this matter of chastity and its “singular” nature in our spiritual lives, I’m going to go with Mary rather than Bishop McElroy, and emphasize how important it really is.

Moving on, I don’t think that there are any regular readers here who hate “gays” or who want to discriminate against them.  If there are, knock it off, for you are endangering your own souls.

I also don’t think that this whole debate is really about “homophobia”.  And you know what I mean.

Finally, a note about an image that McElroy used: cancer.  You know precisely what he is signalling.  This is a dogwhistle.  Cancer is something that needs to be “cut out”, “destroyed”.  He thinks that those who disagree with Fr. Martin’s agenda should be “cut out” like the “cancer” they are.  At whom is he aiming the scalpel?  Opponents “both in Catholic journals and on social media”.  A nice thing for a bishop to publish.

And to metastasize the “cancer” image, this is like Big Tobacco targeting the whistle-blowers.

The moderation queue is ON.

*As mentioned, above, here’s that paragraph with substitutions and adjustments: “The attacks on Summorum Pontificum tap into long-standing bigotry within the church and U.S. culture against members of the T.L.C. community. The persons launching these attacks portray the reconciliation of the church and the T.L.C. community not as a worthy goal but as a grave cultural, religious and familial threat. The Traditional Latin Mass is seen not as one sin among others but as uniquely debased to the point that T.L.C. persons are to be effectively excluded from the family of the church. Pejorative language and labels are deployed regularly and strategically. The complex issues of traditional orientation and its discernment in the life of the individual are dismissed and ridiculed.”


From a German reader by email:

Dear Father Zuhlsdorf

Read Bishop McElroy’s “cancer“ piece – it very much is lacking the loving, understanding, bridge building attitude that he so advocates.

What is really, deeply upsetting is his “purge” reference – you were quite right in picking up that particular connection you made. I live in the country that lived through a “purge”. That is plain nazi-talk and not a language a Catholic prelate should employ.

I wanted to drop an email to that extend to His Excellency, but their webpage doesn’t even give a general email.

Would you happen to know how to reach him electronically?

Wow.  No electronic contact?  That’s interesting.

No, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to reach him or the diocese other than to look on their website or write snail mail.  HOWEVER… maybe their FAX still works! 001-858-490-8272

After all, when it comes to the Church, according to the phrase I coined when I worked in Rome…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Mail from priests, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, What are they REALLY saying? and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Hank Igitur says:

    Same is happening in Australia. The government is running a “postal plesbiscite” on the legalisation of homosexual “marriage”. It is a non binding vote as far as the government is concerned. The aim is to pretend that voters have been consulted then push through legalisation of homo unions regardless. The attorney General has said such an action will required changes to 60 existing laws of the country as a result. The Jesuit rectors of the two most prestigious (and expensive) Jesuit boys schools in both Sydney and Melbourne and a certain prominent well born and bred very left wing Jesuit priest and darling media commentator have gone public in favour of such unions as being “what all young people want” and as being “for the common good”. How is St Ignatius of Loyola feeling tonight in Heaven?

  2. rtjl says:

    Bishop McElroy says “But 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.”

    It’s hard for me to see how one can fulfill that central call without being chaste. Loving my neighbor certainly means, among other things, living my life in such a way that he(she) can be confident that I don’t have secret and inappropriate designs upon his wife and teenage daughters – or his husband and teenage sons for that matter. Loving my wife means living in such a way that she can have that same confidence. Come to think of it, I think there is even a commandment or two about this.

    Thank God (literally) that my bishop is my bishop and bishop McElroy isn’t.

  3. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    I know a man who is suffering with AIDS and related STDs, caused by living in the “gay” subculture. He tells me the presence of evil was constant and palpable.

    As to today’s new form of gender ideology propoganda, he says this: “It is insane for adults to tell children that it is normal to inseminate our intestines.”

  4. Fallibilissimo says:

    So people who ask questions about Fr Martin’s book are judgmental and are to be labeled haters and bad people all around. And they’re doing this because they are trying to reject Pope Francis’ appeal against judgmentalism.

    Yup. Sounds good to me. Hey btw, if anybody sees the principle of non-contradiction, please tell it we had a good time together, but it was necessary to move on.

  5. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Bishop McElroy said :Father Martin opens 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.”

    Really ? In trying to live my Catholic faith, one particular recurring time that I genuinely feel Jesus Christ’s – and for that matter God the Father’s loving “full embrace” – is when I’m being granted absolution in the confessional . . . just like the returning prodigal son ; and then subsequently , even more profoundly when I receive Him in Holy Communion.

    I think it’s sad to see/hear a bishop use the word “homophobia” – particularly against Catholics – whom he hasn’t even solicited for their own personal opinions. Homophobia was a term coined by a psychotherapist who passed away earlier this same year (prayers).

    According to 4 different articles I’ve just read : While “homophobia” began as a rallying cry, and remains a powerful tool to propagandists promoting the homosexual agenda , today the term is contested by expert critics (both heterosexual and homosexual). The term “homophobia” does not stand up to scrutiny . . . an accurate reflection perhaps of the beliefs of those who choose to employ the term ?

  6. rtjl says:

    Further to my earlier comment, The virtue of chastity and love of God and love of neighbor are hardly unrelated, much less opposed to one another. I don’t see how true love can take root and flourish in the Christian community without chastity. I would think that this is why God embedded the minimum requirements of chastity right in the the commandments. Without chastity, there will be no harmony in the community and therefor little love.

  7. Lurker 59 says:

    I notice that His Excellency suggests dialogue to one community but offers none to another.

    In watching the game of Chess is played by one side and Shoots and Ladders by the other (‘traditionalists’ need to see that the mechanics that are playing by are not the mechanics that the other side is playing by), Card. Sarah’s point needs to be reiterated: ‘Traditionalists’ need to stop using that adjective and just call themselves, their actions, and their thought Catholic.

    His Excellency is walling of opposition to dialogue, accompaniment, and acceptance of sexual deviancy as “traditionalist” when it is not a position limited to only those who self-label as “traditionalist”. This is laying the groundwork for kicking “traditionalists” out of the diocesan parish by the argument that “traditionalists” are not Catholic but a schism from Catholicism that has no place here.

  8. Kerry says:

    A Lava lamp word generator?

    “…distinguished…particularly effective…compelling…passionately…eloquently…heart and skill and devotion…particularly perilous…most volatile…rich pastoral heritage…substantive criticism and dialogue…campaign to vilify…”
    “…spent his life building bridges…engaged that terrain…undertook…building bridges…entered it knowing…pertaining to…constituted perhaps…spurred…Using a methodology…is fully consonant
    employing Scripture…imperative for establishing deeper dialogue…opens a door for proclaiming
    seek to embrace fully and immediately…is particularly true…to the reality that dialogue must always proceed…there has arisen…distort…label…assassinate…annihilate…ideas and…dialogue…initiated.

  9. PA mom says:

    Bishop Barron had a homily on Jeremiah a week or two ago in which he made the point that if a person makes the case for changing one’s LIFE based on the teachings (especially moral) of the Faith, that person can expect to be laughed at. That person knows that the message they have to share is unpopular (violence and outrage is my message), but the fire of truly knowing God compels the prophet (both biblical and modern) to speech anyway.
    Not mentioned during the homily: that one can be widely mocked and scorned from WITHIN the Church for speaking the message God has given.
    It must be done though. The young people are thoroughly indoctrinated on this subject and freeing them is critical!

  10. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    The Jesuit establishment and its promoters like Bishop McElroy have convinced me to distrust every word and every act of everything Jesuit.

    This of course excludes such faithful Catholic Jesuits of our lifetime like Fr. Schall and Fr. Fessio and Fr. Pacwa and Fr. Cizek etc etc.

    But these are exceptions – the Jez and their promoters have spawned a “new-Kirk” with Cdl. Kasper, Cdl. Danneels and the rest of their self-proclaimed “St. Galens Mafia” who have bragged about spending their entire careers undermining JP2 and B16 and all faithful pontiffs before them.

    May Our Lord conquer them all, and bring them to repentance and integrity once again.

  11. Spade says:

    1 million Catholics in the diocese of San Diego, 8 seminarians according to their website (plus 14 “pre-seminarians”).

    450,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington, we’ve got 46 seminarians.

    I’ll care what he has to say when he starts producing good fruit. Hell, he isn’t producing any kind of fruit at all.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  12. Michaelus says:

    At this point I think Martin needs to appear in as many places as possible and have some sensible person ask him: “Does God intend that sodomy be an ontological exigency for certain people?”. If so why isn’t e.g. anger also an ontological exigency? Or “homophobia”? This should not be a hard argument to make and win. Maybe instead of ontological exigency just say “part of one’s being” to make it simple.

  13. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    As with matters of Liturgical debasement, I perceive here an instantiation of acedia, in this case sorrow over the specific spiritual good of Christ’s call to be perfect as He is perfect and His call’s being made possible by his incarnation, a Miracle which liberates us from the failures of the flesh which God did indeed create, but which we caused to fall. The Philosopher parallels in a Mundane way we he posts that one can not be virtuous without seeking perfection in all the virtues. They are begging [to be excused from having to answer] the question [they have agreed to argue], i.e., don’t ever understand or say that our love and promotion of this vicious behaviour is a refutation of Christ’s positive command to perfection, just move cede this point to us, allow us our luke warmness, and move on. Failure to cede the question they have begged results in their displaying their Furious Wickedness, to use a phrase from a memorable prayer .

    Our maybe it’s just about book sales. Father Martin has a right to acquire wealth the same as any other man, right? [Acquire, perhaps, but keep, no. He has taken a vow of poverty. As a result, unless he has some sort of permission, he shouldn’t keep much property or cash.] I mean, if he weren’t allowed to have personal wealth, then he would have to give that money to people engaged in causes he supports, and then they would get angry and lash out. And that couldn’t be what’s happening. Right?

  14. ESMDHokie77 says:

    I also note that Fr Martin referred to the Holy Spirit as “she”. *shudder*

  15. Chrisc says:

    What a facile and utterly unhelpful notion. The attack on valuing chastity as a singular virtue. 1) As if the virtues don’t cohere together. 2)As if anyone thinks that perfect chastity is a necessary condition to hearing the gospel 3) As if anyone indicates that chastity is the most important virtue.

    The bishop’s statement in this regard is simply a lie. Chastity as a Christian virtue requires Christian grace to live out. It requires the Lord to heal us. The problem with McElroy, Martin, et al. is they don’t really believe Jesus can heal us. End of discussion. If God cannot heal us with chastity, then by definition our unchaste acts can’t be sinful. It strikes again. The God of ‘mercy’ is not the hero who crosses over the breach of sin to pull us back to safety, but the hero who is willing to tolerate in himself the contradiction between what he says he does and his lack of action. What a very small god.

    [Hmmm. You made a lot of conclusions.]

  16. Fr AJ says:

    It appears Bp. McElroy is picking up on the recent words of Francis as reported in the book of interviews who said sexual sins are the most minor sins we can commit.

    [Nothing new in that. Old news.]

  17. Chris Rawlings says:

    Sin. That. Cries. Out. To. Heaven.

    The blogs didn’t make that one up, by the way.

  18. mburn16 says:

    I will offer my own point:

    “Gay sexual activity is seen not as one sin among others but as uniquely debased”

    …because it IS uniquely debased. Or, at the very least, it opens up a far wide chasm between a person’s conduct and the intended role of sexual behavior. As grave as various other sexual sins might be, very few of them so permanently separate a person from the model of traditional familial union.

    The abortionist and the contraceptive user can both fairly easily change their ways and have children (and often do). The adulterer can reconcile. Even the divorcee can live a life that conforms to the teachings of the Church. But once one enters into a romantic homosexual relationship, you are unlikely ever to find them in much else.

  19. Andrew says:

    From a Sep. 10 interview in the San Diego Union Tribune of Bishop McElroy on the subject of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego having settled the sex abuse claims of multiple victims at an enormous payout:


    Were you surprised by anything you learned in reporting this story?

    Bishop McElroy:

    Reading over personnel documents for the perpetrators, I was surprised at how many were praised for their compassion and wisdom. Most of these men were outwardly charismatic, although their inner lives were dark and sad.

    The inner life of sex abusers is “dark” and “sad”. Hmmmm! Even though they were praised for their “compassion and wisdom”. Hmmmmm!

  20. jmcj says:

    Bishop McElroy is further evidence that even the finest academic credentials do not result in superior service to the Church. The problem is that McElroy is not a man of inferior intelligence; I fear that he will be plaguing us with clever rhetoric and distortions for quite a while.

  21. Poor Yorek says:

    Cancer? Perhaps. But I prefer the more grand accolade of “putrefactive” viz. ( War of the Worlds Book II Chp 8):

    And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians—dead!—slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

    So let us walk humbly before Almighty God and lay silent and broken all those who would invade and wreck the Holy Faith from without or within.

  22. mysticalrose says:

    My gosh, this is all so depressing. I feel like I blinked and the Church I thought I had has disappeared overnight.

  23. That Guy says:

    MBurn16… I was thinking the same thing. I do think that sometimes we fixate on the unique sins of homosexuality to the point that we may fail to call out or even tolerate heterosexually inclined sins against chastity, BUT…

    Given the unique and profound damage that homosexuality has caused God’s Church, as manifested in scandal after scandal- child molestation, “Gay Mafias” in the Vatican, the insidious perfidy perpetrated in seminaries (talk about a cancer!), I have come to conclude that homosexuality is a uniquely grave and present danger to souls, and we must eradicate it wherever it rears its ugly head,

  24. Toan says:

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

    And those who are not pure in heart, on the other hand…

    Purity of heart surely includes chastity. Does the dear bishop really not view seeing God as being singularly important?

    As far as “Homophobia” goes, accusing someone of that (or “hatred”, for that matter) speaks to their psychological state, which we are not privy to, and which we are actually prohibited from judging by our Lord. How ironic that those who merely judge an act are labeled as judgemental by folks who judge intentions.

  25. Dan says:

    When ever I hear that term “homophobe”, “homophobia” applied to people of faith that teach that homosexuality is an “intrinsically disordered act” it makes me cringe from the reek of irony.
    Those that stand up in the face of opposition, being labeled as intolerant, those that truly are willing to “accompany” those in disordered situations and help them to come back into the folds of the Church. Those that will call sin sin, and love love are labeled at having a fear of people who find themselves caring the cross of same sex attraction.
    Meanwhile. Those that cower in fear, those who will compromise their beliefs and play around with the souls of others. Those who fear being labeled as intolerant, or being disliked. Those who allow themselves to be bullied by those who don’t want to hear anything opposed to their internal forum. Those cowards are not labeled as having a phobia? I think the term is being used backwards. Those who show no fear should not have the term applied but I would say those like Father Martin represent more of a homophobia than traditionalists ever will.

    Also with regard to chastity, I would substitute the term continence. That anyone should have to exhibit any self control has become an unconscionable thought. Surely it is a violation of basic human rights to tell anyone that they can’t or even shouldn’t do anything. To tell someone that God sometimes asks us to sacrifice as He himself sacrificed is surely an act of prejudice against them. Would a loving God not want me to do and think anything I desire?

    Jesus instructed us “Love one another as I have Loved you” and how did he Love us? He spread his message. He didn’t backtrack. When we didn’t like his message, He still didn’t backtrack. When we beat the tar out of Him, He still didn’t backtrack. When we pressed thorns into his head, He still didn’t backtrack. And when we nailed him to a Cross, He still didn’t backtrack!. He loved us to the end. He let us beat Him and kill Him. He gave us the truth and loved us enough to not compromise it for the sake of his own comfort or popularity. I pray that I through the mercy of Christ I will be granted the graces to Love those around me that much.

  26. Adaquano says:

    I may be wrong in some of the assumptions I make, but it seems as if the likes of Bishop McElroy (including Cardinals Tobin, Cupic, Farrell and Fr. Martin), believe as if our salvation exist purely in our attachment and membership of the physical church, and that with Baptism all is forgiven. Afterwards, it is the Church’s duty to help us in periods of grief, show us how to best help our neighbor, etc as opposed to helping us battle daily for our salvation. They do not confront the central argument that a person not living in chastity is to be excluded from the Sacramental life, or that they should not have a central role in the church until they have accepted Church teaching. Professing One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church means nothing if we allow others and ourselves to not fully embrace that reality.

    Lastly, he slyly reveals his hand how many of these prelates wish to rupture the foundation of our moral life, because they simply think it is too difficult to live (a bit too Protestant in its core theology don;t you think). They don’t want to confront that if you distort and disrupt issues that are below the belt that you disrupt life itself, and the whole foundation becomes unsteady. Our wish to sterilize the bedroom disrupts everything else.

  27. erick says:

    “…sexual orientation and its discernment.”

    Did the good bishop really just say that “sexual identity ” is something that can be discerned? Have I misunderstood or is that breathtakingly shocking?

  28. erick says:

    Sorry, that should have been “orientation ” not “identity “

  29. donato2 says:

    The question of the importance of chastity really is the nub of the issue. The greatest of the saints — including St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Francis and St. John Paul II — have emphasized the importance of chastity to the spiritual life. It is not just some incidental fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus were celibate. Sexual sin devastates the spiritual life.

  30. brushmore says:

    I am far from being anything close to being a theologian but even I can see the weak argument the bishop makes against chastity. This is an extremely slippery slope to justify just about any sexual sin. According to the Bishop’s logic cohabiting before marriage, adultery, and many other unmentionable things are OK. All I can say is that if chastity is no big deal then there would be whole lot more saints all of a sudden!

  31. gretta says:

    I don’t have a problem with the claim that homosexuality is biological. We have people born with various physical disabilities or mental problems or proclivities, heck, even alcoholism runs in families. But…so what? The fact that people are born that way doesn’t make it “good” or “healthy”. So I find that to be a silly argument. Biological predisposition does not equal “good.” But being born homosexual doesn’t make you “bad” either (disordered doesn’t make you a bad person, just disordered), any more than being born with a predisposition to alcoholism does. It is the person’s moral choices that are sinful or not sinful, not their predispositions. I know that there are denominations that say that being homosexual makes you a bad person, but the Catholic Church isn’t one of them. And calling someone disordered is very different than saying they are “bad”.

    I also wonder if the good bishop would say the same thing about chastity in a marital context. “No really husband/wife, chastity is important but it isn’t THAT important.” WHAT???

    Finally, this again perpetuates the gay and secular argument that sex=love, and that life cannot be fulfilling absent sex or sexual contact. This is patently not true. One can have loving, fulfilling, chaste relationships. You don’t have to have sex to love, and calling people to chastity whether they are gay or straight is not “denying them the ability to love”, as you often hear in secular contexts. In a marital context, sex and love can be synonymous (sadly not always), but sex outside marriage is a bodily lie. You are telling someone with your body that you will love and honor them for life and that you love them enough to have children with them. When this takes place outside of marriage, you are making promises to the other person with your body that aren’t true, and in a homosexual context can never be true.

  32. Father Flores says:

    I’d really like to read more about:
    ” Augustine reminds us that Christ, being perfect, isn’t the best model for us. He recommended the lives of the saints…”

    Where does he explain more of this? Thank you!

  33. arga says:

    Could someone please explain what the bishop means by “genital sexual activity”? How is that different from just plain “sexual activity.” Yes, I know what genitals are. But aren’t they, uhh, sort of of necessary for any kind of sexual activity to take place?

  34. Joseph-Mary says:

    It is the mission of the Catholic Church to preach Christ’s gospel and be concerned with the salvation of souls, NOT to embrace intrinsic evils nor coddle those addicted or enmeshed in them. It is not the duty of the Catholic Church to be more concerned with ‘mother earth’ that the saving of souls. It is not the mission of the Church to be all about obtaining money to resettle the muslim invasion. Far to many in high places are failing in their duty.

  35. Tom W says:

    Chastity seems a prerequisite to “Purity of Heart”, which intuitively seems foundational to “love of Neighbor” as the Bishop exhorts us. Sure enough, a quick google check brought me to the Catechism, and;

    2518 The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”307 “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity;308 chastity or sexual rectitude;309 love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.310 There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith:

    If your sex life is “disordered”, your “kind actions [love] toward your neighbor” are at great risk of being self serving, and not for the love of God … but I’m just a guy in the pew.

  36. Sawyer says:

    @mburn16, regarding homosexual acts as uniquely debased. I agree that they are. Reasons include that the acts are contra naturam.

    Contrary to what Fr. James Martin and Bishop McElroy are suggesting, homosexual acts and unions are indeed uniquely debased and unique sins because to regard them as normal or excusable would undermine the natural and foundational elements of healthy family relations and virtuous social organization. Acceptance of homosexual unions is disemboweling the West’s social order because it is not possible to integrate homosexual unions into a society without completely disrupting the natural family unit and civil liberties. Government is compelling people to accept homosexual unions or else lose their livelihoods and freedom (bake the cake!), and the family is being redefined to mean any voluntary association of people in a household (soon to include polyamory and incest). No society can withstand such an assault on truth and goodness nor such an attack on society’s fundamental building block: the family.

    Homosexual unions are a grave threat to the social order. The expression “contra naturam” in reference to homosexual acts and unions partly conveys that promoting what is against nature would necessarily entail an effort to replace the true and good natural order with a different, artificial, false, imposed disorder; we are witnessing such an effort being made in the West today. It is doomed to fail because the order of nature is not within our purview to change, nor should we want to change it, because it is good.

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  38. Sandy says:

    Now do you see why our diocese needs prayer?! I can’t even bring myself to read all the way through McElroy’s words. The bishop has made one particular parish in the diocese the “point man” to welcome the LGBT “community”. To think we had the wonderful Bishop Cordileone for a short time, but he has his work cut out for him up north, bless him. The news gets worse every day; I guess that’s why many of us spend less time reading it!

  39. Choirman says:

    “…vast gulf that exists between young adults and the church”, as Fr. Z pointed out, implied is traditional Catholicism, no wonder many young people do not attend! With so many bishops suppressing Summorum Pontificum, and hence the opportunity to attend a TLM, it’s like weighting the dice.

  40. ChesterFrank says:

    What garbage! Note what happens to the dialogue when someone says I listened to your message, but I do not agree. As they mention acceptance, what happens if you mention exploitation? This topic has had over 30 years as headline news, at what point can it be labeled propaganda? I like how they mention an organized campaign AGAINST Fr. Martin, what about the the organized (and massively funded) campaign Fr. Martin is part of. This is sickening on so many levels, not even counting the topic of discussion.

  41. Mike says:

    The ranting and rambling of Fr. Martin, Bp. McElroy and the rest, at its core, is the Spirit Of Vatican II bilge we’ve been hearing all our lives. Neither Scripture nor Tradition nor the perpetual Magisterium is sacred if it interfere with innovators’ Modernism and Gnosticism.

    No one has to drink from this poisoned cup, so don’t. Stay close to the Sacraments, to the Traditional Mass, to Christ (“the model of chastity”: CCC 2394), and to the Blessed Mother. Pray for faithful priests and religious and for faithful vocations. Go to Confession. Consign the errant to their directors and to the mercy of God.

  42. Deacon Ed Peitler says:

    Might I suggest a debate on Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality between Bishop McElroy and Michael Voris?

  43. amenamen says:


    The words “singularly powerful” stand out. Or, rather, the ambiguous meaning of the expression makes the article dodgy and ambiguous. What does it mean to say that it is wrong to suggest that “chastity has a singularly powerful role in determining our moral character or our relationship with God”?

    Is chastity “singularly important” in the sense that a chaste person can go to heaven while ignoring all of the other virtues, such as prudence, justice, faith, hope and charity? No. That would be preposterous. This seems to be the implied criticism, that we are puritans, concentrating “exclusively” on one single, isolated virtue, to the exclusion of everything else.

    Or is chastity “singularly important” in the sense that the unchaste person, just like an unjust person, has departed from the straight and narrow road to heaven? Yes. This is not preposterous, but the simple truth. However, many people are arguing that an unchaste lifestyle should not be considered a thing of remarkable importance.

    So, does chastity have “a singularly powerful role in determining our moral character or our relationship with God”? It is not the only virtue, but it is necessary for a virtuous life.

    Meriam Webster online says, about “singular”:

    1. (of a word or form) denoting or referring to just one person or thing.
    single; unique.
    “she always thought of herself as singular, as his only daughter”
    2. exceptionally good or great; remarkable.
    “the singular beauty of the desert”
    remarkable, extraordinary, exceptional, outstanding, signal, notable, noteworthy; rare, unique, unparalleled, unprecedented, amazing, astonishing, phenomenal, astounding; (informal) fantastic, terrific

  44. Rich says:

    In light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Bishop McElroy’s contrast of chastity with love for God is a false dichotomy. The the one beatitude to which the Catechism links overall Christian beatitude is “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (see 1722). And, it describes our growth in purity of heart as a process by which we “purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else” (1723):

    “The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement – however beneficial it may be – such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love.” (1723)

  45. Athelstan says:

    We are not going to admit the premise that that there is a “vast gulf that exists between young adults and the church” in the traditional community.

    The average age of my diocesan TLM community is about 15. It’s almost all very young families.

    Now I do not pretend that we are representative of Millennial Catholics, let alone Millennials generally. Polling is pretty consistent in suggesting that (yes) most Millennials have a positive view of homosexuality and same-sex sexual acts.

    And yet the very same Millennials most likely to hold these views are also the least likely to be religious, and the least sympathetic to religious claims in the public square. And this is not for lack of effort by numerous denominations working very hard to make their churches as gay-friendly and even libertine in morals as possible. Bishop McElroy might ponder why it is that the demographics of churches which have the most liberal sexual moralities are also the most elderly. It is so bad for the Episcopal Church, for example, that on current trends they are facing effective extinction within the next two decades. More to the point, we see the very same trends at work among the most liberal communities within the Catholic Church itself. Why is that?

    Young Americans might be, on average, quite liberal on sexual morality. But young Americans most keen to seek Christ, especially in the Catholic faith, are the opposite.

  46. It occurred to me that, of all things, there is a similarity between President Trump and Father James Martin. And it is this: President Trump delights in provoking his critics into extreme, and thereby discrediting, reactions; and I think Father Martin would like to do the same.

    Don’t fall for it.

    This is not about welcoming people with same-sex erotic attractions, or anyone else. Build bridges for all who want to follow Christ (St. Catherine of Siena would approve!).

    The only issue is whether Father Martin is presenting an authentic portrait of Christ and his message. His own actions have raised questions, and he has not, so far, been very clear.

    More specifically, does Fr. Martin mean to say (as others have pointed out) that a same-sex orientation is just one variety of God’s designs? Does he really mean to say that sex acts between people of the same sex are moral and authentic? Does he really mean to approve of same-sex marriage, as his reactions at an event at Fordham University suggest he does?

    Father Martin is, bluntly, playing this rather coy, and it’s not working. People aren’t stupid.

    In all respect to the Bishop, his item reads as though he dashed it off fairly quickly and didn’t review it after cooling down. He may not like some of the people faulting Father Martin, and he may have a case against some of their actions, but the underlying questions are legitimate.

  47. MariaKap says:

    Atheists said,
    “Bishop McElroy might ponder why it is that the demographics of churches which have the most liberal sexual moralities are also the most elderly. It is so bad for the Episcopal Church, for example, that on current trends they are facing effective extinction within the next two decades. More to the point, we see the very same trends at work among the most liberal communities within the Catholic Church itself. Why is that?”

    I would say it is because these liberal churches have welcomed homosexual sex which by its very nature is sterile and fornication which implies birth control. And these impart their sterility wherever they are invited in and celebrated. There can be no fruitfulness where spiritual sterility has become the order if the day.

  48. Elizabeth M says:

    Why is this so complex in the eyes of Catholics who decide to engage in these activities? Do sin, don’t confess and attempt to change means don’t go to Communion. It doesn’t mean the Church doesn’t want you in the pews, or at Mass, or Adoration! It doesn’t mean you’re “left out” “rights trampled on” or “The Church doesn’t accept me”.
    The most merciful thing a Bishop could do for those with same sex attraction is to work WITH them to over come it, not support the behavior. Tell them the truth of what is going on in their soul! Then, if they continue to refuse to attempt change, let them leave. But Bishops you’ve got to tell the truth first.

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  50. Aquinas Gal says:

    Another aspect of sins against chastity is that they are a primary way that demons can find an entrance into our lives. Though we don’t often think of this, we can give demons pathways to enter our lives and disturb us, something that exorcists like Fr Amorth have attested to. I’m not talking about possession, but about the ways they can trouble us. Sexual sins are a major point of entry.
    The “pride” parades are proof of that…

  51. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for methodically dismantling Bp. McElroy’s op-ed.

    Bp. McElroy seems to have a vision for the Church at odds with the Gospel and the Magisterium. His mention of “cancer” and “purge” are noted.

    Well now. A classic 20th century tactic was to set down in writing a revolutionary change to an institution (the author cloaking his or her willfulness in transcendental language). Then, the writer would identify a group of people who are obstacles to Utopia. Finally, proclaim the remedy in brutal terms.

    Two practitioners of this tactic were Ali Shariati, an Iranian sociologist who influenced Ayatollah Khomeini, and Michel Aflaq, an Arab nationalist and sociologist who influenced Saddam Hussein.

    One wonders why certain clergy, religious, and laity show more zeal today for re-shaping society and distorting the Gospel than for saving souls.

    A footnote: Before Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital (he often had to be prodded by Engels to keep writing), he wrote articles for the New York Daily Tribune in the 1850s. Engels, about 1880, labelled Marxism as “scientific socialism” and linked Marxism to Darwinism. Momentum built. However, in the 1890s Bernstein noticed that Marx’s predictions about the “people’s revolt” were not coming true, and that the conditions of common laborers were slowly but steadily improving (but there was still the occasional and unfortunate garment factory fire). Lenin, impatient and enraged, developed the concept of the “Vanguard” who would “instruct” the common worker of their plight and lead them to Revolution. In 1917 Lenin returned to Russia…

    Basically, whenever theory and method are unsound, form a Vanguard and enforce the theory.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  52. Gabriel Syme says:

    “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”

    Thank you for reminding us of this part of the Fatima message, Father.

    All priests should be shouting this from the rooftops, constantly. Yet many faithful hear no warnings about impurity, or have not even heard of Fatima.

    With our flawed natures, all of us are inclined towards impurity if we are not careful and so we must be on our guard constantly. We must Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

    It is chilling to see that, a century after Fatima and this particular warning about impurity, there is currently considerable effort within the Church by Jesuits to legitimise both adultery and homosexual behaviour.

    This is the exact opposite of what the Church should be doing. The exact opposite.

  53. St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church, wrote The Book of Gomorrah and detailed the horror that homosexual clergy is, that this vile poison must be squashed immediately, that such clergy should be locked up, never released, and guarded carefully. Not only are evil clergy at fault, he also blames naive superiors who are soft on the crimes as contributors to the problem. When clergy persists in this sin, doesn’t repent, such clergy should be PUT TO DEATH. This poison is that lethal.

    Don’t forget that the death penalty not only prevents more criminal action, but it also has an expiatory purpose. Expiation for the criminal himself and for society that must suffer as a just punishment for anyone’s sins. So in effect, while this sin spreads and goes temporally unpunished, all of mankind and nature suffers the punishment for the sin.

    What a trajectory we are now on where priests and bishops openly spread the deadly poison.

  54. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. The bishops can keep casting the wrong types of nets into the wrong parts of the sea in their self-directed efforts at being fishers of men.

    The statistics are showing us where Jesus wants them to throw the nets for an abundant catch.

    The Apostles in the boats, when they did what Jesus asked, caught a lot of good fish, but not every fish in the sea. They caught the abundant harvest Christ prepared for them.

    If the Catholic Church doesn’t catch religiously-minded Millenials with arguments of historicity, internal theological and moral consistency, and passion for Jesus Christ, then the Evangelicals/Pentecostals will at least catch them with their version of the latter most thing (passion for Christ is certainlu not the least most!) even if they are historically bunk and internally incosistent.

  55. I am myself a homosexual.
    Every day I bear this cross.
    Every day my sinful desire wants to sow the seeds of destruction.
    Every day the Spirit of God within me wars against that sinful desire.
    Every day I try to nail those sinful desires back up on the cross.
    I was once not like the daughter of Jairus or the son of the widow of Nain. I was Lazarus, dead and buried in sin. There were priests that helped wrap me in those burial clothes and roll the stone over that tomb of sin and death by their own liberal feelings.
    Christ raised me. And I had to go looking for priests who would help me not go back in the tomb.
    I am so deeply troubled over the state of affairs in the Church. Christ says, “Lazarus, come forth.” Voices in my church say, “Stay in your tomb, continue to rot and remain dead in sin.”
    I am grateful for the voice of my conscience, informed by the Catechism, that all through my years of death in sin never stopped saying, “Come back… This is not life. Come back.”

    [Now THAT’s what I’m talking about. Friends, every person has principle faults they struggle with. When we say “No!”, we begin to suffer. No matter what it is, there is suffering. It could be a, b, or c, … saying “NO!” means suffering. We have to be willing to stay on the CROSS!]

  56. jfk03 says:

    It is so disconcerting to see a bishop aiding and abetting heresy. But the Mother of God will give us strength to bear the cross of these times.

    [Be careful. Don’t just fling around the “H” word.]

  57. Michael_Haz says:

    “The devil has succeeded in bringing in evil (to the Church) under the guise of good and the blind are beginning to lead others.”

    In his book The Third Secret Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité reports that, when questioned about the Third Secret of Fatima, Sister Lucy said: “It’s in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse, read them!” He notes that she then particularly indicated Chapters VIII through XIII of the Apocalypse (Chapter XIII specifically concerns the rise of the Antichrist).

    In his study of the Third Secret, Frère Michel builds a compelling case that the Third Secret is a grave warning of apostasy within the Catholic Faith and a serious indictment of those in the Church hierarchy who have promoted dissent and outright heresy. Bishop McElroy included.

    Pray the Rosary.

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  59. NBW says:

    Thank you for your post Father. Bishop McElroy using the word “cancer” and calling for “a purge” makes me think of other people in history that wanted a “purge”. Not very charitable.

  60. The Masked Chicken says:

    I really enter this discussion with a certain amount of trepidation. I am a poor academic and my only concern is for the truth. More than that, I have not read Fr. Martin’s book about homosexual bridge-building, nor, indeed, any of his works, so I feel a bit wrong making comments on second-hand information, however, in doing a bit of research, I find that he has written a book in an area in which I have a great deal of expertise and I may have to get the book and read it, if nothing more than to bring a clinical eye to it, since very few people have the expertise to make an effective judgment on it. It is not right for non-experts, with their penchant for writing glowing Amazon reviews, to act as the judge in cases involving a certain amount of subtlety. Specifically, I am referring to his book on Humor – Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. I am well-known, internationally, in the humor research community and have authored peer-reviewed papers, been a humor journal referee, written encyclopedia articles on humor, been a consultant for an article in Woman’s Health Magazine, which was picked up by NBC and CBS, online, have helped on doctoral research in computer joke creation, and have presented about twenty-five papers at international conferences on topics from symmetry-breaking in humor to mathematical models of the humor process in the brain. One of my areas of research is humor and spirituality. My plan is to write a book on the subject, one day.

    With all of the polemics being thrown back and forth, I would like to see some quiet clinical assessments of Fr. Martin’s book on homosexuality, such as I might bring to his book on humor. His is not the first book on humor and the spiritual life. Most of them tend to be anecdote-driven without any real grounding in theory. For instance, Jesus’s humor can be shown, on purely theoretical grounds, to have been somewhat more restrained than ours in several ways. That Fr. Martin was the chaplain for the Colbert Report does not make him an expert on humor. Humor in the Bible has to be interpreted through the eyes of the original audience. Few are qualified to do this.

    What I do not see being done in the current case is having a sober academic discussion about the propositions that Fr. Martin makes in his book. Far too many people on both sides of the fence leap to make comments without having a lot of data. I would like to see an unbiased research-level book on the influence of homosexuality on the lives and attitudes of Millennials. How can one build bridges if one does not even know the terrain? Given that Fr. Martin’s book is neither a research paper nor very extensive, one has to wonder exactly what revelations are included beyond the level of anecdotes.

    Bishop McElroy wrote:

    “Father James Martin is a distinguished Jesuit author who has spent his life building bridges within the Catholic Church and between the church and the wider world. He has been particularly effective in bringing the Gospel message to the millennial generation. When we survey the vast gulf that exists between young adults and the church in the United States, it is clear that there could be no more compelling missionary outreach for the future of Catholicism than the terrain that Father Martin has passionately and eloquently pursued over the past two decades. There are few evangelizers who have engaged that terrain with more heart and skill and devotion.”

    Here is where I have profound problems. Let me finish Semper Gumby’s comment from above. He wrote:

    “Lenin, impatient and enraged, developed the concept of the “Vanguard” who would “instruct” the common worker of their plight and lead them to Revolution. In 1917 Lenin returned to Russia…

    Basically, whenever theory and method are unsound, form a Vanguard and enforce the theory.”

    What does this have to do with Millennials and homosexuality? Plenty.

    In December of 1917, the Bolsheviks wrested control of marriage from the Russian Orthodox Church and formed state-sponsored marriages and, most importantly, introduced no-fault divorce. When Mary, at Fatima, talks about Russia spreading its error, I suspect that she was talking, in part, about this. Now, after 1917 the Bolshevik Revolution failed to spread to Europe (dah, Europe had just finished a World War and was being ravaged by the Spanish flu – what did the Communists expect?). Disheartened by this non-development, the theorists regrouped in Germany, in Frankfurt. They set up an academy which postulated that economic revolution was not enough. The revolution had to be societal. Slowly, they developed the machinery and techniques for inducing disorder within societies, which they thought would, then, lead to the revolution of the proletariat. The theory they developed was called Critical Theory, whose goal was, basically, to criticize anything that was stable in a society in the hopes of creating chaos.

    The Frankfurt School came to the U. S. (New York, specifically at Columbia University) and began to have influence in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, but World War II caused them to get out of the center of attention until after the War, when they hit the liberal arts curriculum very hard, especially English departments.

    In any case, with the introduction of the Pill in the late 1950’s until its introduction in society-at-large about 1963 – 1965, marriage was slowly being destabilized. To rationalize the sexual license the Pill offered, it was necessary to change the definition of marriage from a stable life-long covenant for the purposes of procreation, primarily, to something of a more contractual nature. Enter Russia’s no-fault divorce in 1969 in the U. S., at the height of the turmoil and destabilization being fostered by the Left and during a period where the Catholic Church offered no concrete barriers to its introduction, being absorbed with its own destabilization.

    With the introduction of no-fault divorce, the divorce rate jumped six-fold (see: Douglas Allen, An Economic Assessment of Same-Sex Marriage, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol29_No3_Allen.pdf). The destabilization of marriage was almost complete.

    The Millennials, those born from about 1985 to 2000 A. D. are the first-generation of children from parents living with no-fault divorce. Consider: these children were born into a society where nothing about male-female relationships were stable. Love had been redefined into a mere feeling and many couples divorced over trifles. The parents were racked with guilt. They had no stability, so, to substitute, they began telling their children that they were, “special.” Many Millennials grew up thinking that they were entitled as a substitute for the peace of a happy home. They were told that anything they did, anything they believed, was part of their specialness.

    Then, they went into the real world and quickly found out that it was all a lie. The world would not congratulate them, would not acknowledge their specialness. Now, one cannot simply deprive a whole generation of this desperate milk without them fighting back. They demanded that society acknowledge them, whatever they did and since sex was nothing more than biology to them, they demanded acknowledgement of their sexual proclivities, as well. They had grown up victims and they asserted their victimhood, well.

    With the Frankfurt school pushing what amounted to Cultural Marxism. with its atheism, secularism, and anything-goes outlook in educational institutions, including the switch from fact-based to feeling-based curricula, not only were the Millennials primed to accept the master plan, so to speak, of cultural upheaval, but they no longer had the sophistication of an historical narrative to show them why this was such a bad idea.

    Indeed, Fr. Martin has the wrong narrative, in my opinion. The Church is not so much a bridge-builder as a magnet. Christ said that he would draw all things to himself. Now, metals lose their ability to be attracted by a magnet when the individual particles become disordered. The purpose of evangelization under these circumstances should not be bridge-building, especially if the wood is mostly rotted out, but to restore a sense of order to the particles so that they can be attracted to the magnet.

    What I am getting at is that both Fr. Martin and Bishop McElroy must make their case at more than the level of anecdotes and proof-texting from Scripture. There is real research that needs to be done to understand how the Millennials (not all, obvious – there is a subculture of Millennials who understand and attempt to live from Christian principles) have gotten so far from a stable group. If this is not done any bridge will, surely be of the flimsiest sort. Worse is the second generation of the no-fault divorcees, the children born after 2000 – the so-called, Centennial generation. Depression was already endemic among the Millennials. There is evidence that it is decimating the Centennial generation.

    I could go on and bring in more research and all, but this comment is already almost unreadable. I see and teach Millennials every day. I have taught thousands. They need a unifying principle. Christianity would give them that, if the forces of cultural destabilization could be exposed to them. I feel very sad for them that many will never know the peace of being ordered rightly to God, all because the Church has substituted a dubious psychology for the truth about sin.

    I really wonder if Fr. Martin understands homosexual Millennials and how they got there enough to write a book at this time. They don’t need bridges. They need drop-forging of metal in the fire of adversity. They need to understand what it means to not be special. It is the pharisees who wanted to be special. The apostles just wanted to get on with the job of living, but to them, life meant Christ, the whole Christ, the true Christ. To them, love meant the Cross. Sadly, that is the one thing many Millennials do not understand, because their parents’s marriages split when the first nails were pounded in.

    Do you wonder why Mary at Fatima, in 1917, was sp sad, when all of this got started and Russia began the long, relentless march to destroy mankind?

    The Chicken

  61. iamlucky13 says:

    One of the many things that troubles me about this is the fact that grown adults do not understand the difference between a university, seminary, or any other educational institution arranging themselves for a controversial person to speak, versus allowing its students to arrange for such a person to speak, within the bounds of their existing rules.

  62. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    The good bishop speaks of “building a bridge” to the LGBT community. There is no “LGBT community” in the eyes of God! Nor can there be in the eyes of the Church. There are only His children, many of whom have not yet heard the Gospel, or some who have heard, but have been turned aside from the Good News because they have become caught up in sin, which separates the soul from God.

    LGBT actions are serious, serious sins! We all sin, but when we sin, we repent and we go to Confession. We don’t form “communities” around our sin! We form communities around God and around the gifts He gives to us to assist in the evangelization of others. Any “community” that centers itself upon sin and the death which is the result of sin, is a community that belongs not to God or to Heaven, but to the infernal realms!

    The great Doctor of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas points out that that “nothing but mortal sin debars a man from God’s kingdom. But lust debars him, as shown by the words of the Apostle (Galatians 5:19), who after mentioning immorality, impurity, licentiousness, adds: ‘They who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.’ Therefore,” he concludes, all of these manifestations of lust are mortally sinful.(1) And he adds that “since by the unnatural vices (homosexual acts) man transgresses that which has been determined by nature with regard to the use of venereal actions, it follows that in this matter this sin is gravest of all. ” (2)

    Since deliberate homosexual acts are, clearly, mortally sinful, and from any mortal sin, the soul cannot be resurrected without the Sacrament of Penance, it’s also clear that the sinner must *have a firm purpose of amendment* and confess each instance of these sins. If he does not repent, amend his life to the best of his ability, and confess these sins, his soul remains dead.

    It seems to me that it’s nothing but sheerest devilry to suggest that because some mortal sins may be “more serious” than other mortal sins, (e.g., sins against charity or against religion), the “less serious” mortal sins (e.g., homosexual acts) might be glossed over, gotten past for the sake of outreach to those enmeshed in this horrible snare. By analogy, one may point out that to be vaporized in a nuclear explosion is a more grievous injury than to be decapitated in an automobile accident, which damages fewer parts of the body, but in either instance, the final condition of the victim is the same – a flat line.

    Similarly, when we subject our souls to mortal sin – and homosexual acts are in that category – we effectively kill our own souls. What does it matter that sins against charity or against piety are more serious, or worse than homosexual acts? They are, but to tacitly wink at the less serious mortal sin because more serious mortal sins may be enumerated, does not help the Church to save souls.

    One wonders whether the bishop cares at all about the salvation of the souls among his flock who have been caught in the snare of the homosexual way of life. We all of us have an obligation to reach out most respectfully and tenderly to persons with Same-sex attraction, and to try to win them over to Christ. And we don’t win anyone over to Christ – gamblers, drunkards, wife-beaters, liars, cheaters, gossips, adulterers, angry persons, persons without compassion – by lying to them that their particular vice “isn’t as bad” as some other vice.

    (1) ST II-II Q. 154. a.2.
    (2) ST II-II Q. 154. a.12.

  63. slainewe says:

    “Those who emphasize the incompatibility of gay men or lesbian women living meaningfully within the church are ignoring the multidimensional nature of the Christian life of virtue or the sinfulness of us all or both.”

    How can anyone not an adherent to the heresy of homosexualism make the above statement? There are no “gay” men or “lesbian” women in the Church. There are only men and women, many of whom suffer from temptations against chastity. It is nobody’s business the nature (or un-nature) of these temptations, save their confessors. They don’t leave the confessional with scarlet letters pinned to their shirts and blouses.

    The good father who finds himself afflicted with unchaste thoughts about his daughter dismisses them out of hand. If he dwells on them, he goes to confession. End of story. No need for his bishop to write letters about how he can “live meaningfully within the church.” He already is.

  64. TonyO says:

    I have one thing to say:

    We don’t need to “build a bridge”. Christ Himself is the Bridge. He is the one Mediator between God and Man.

    All this talk of “building a bridge” is mindless clap-trap. Those who want to build bridges on sand, on anything other than the Way and the Truth and the Life of Jesus, on anything other than “if you love me, keep my commandments” and “my food is to do the will of Him who sent me,” they are doing anything but building something worthwhile. It is just another worthless Bridge to Nowhere. There is but one Pons, but one Truth: our job is to conform ourselves to Christ, not to re-educate Christ according to the soul of “the times”.

  65. Elizium23 says:

    A Mass will be held on Saturday, October 7 at 11am at Saint John the Evangelist parish in University Heights. This Mass is being promoted as the 20th anniversary celebration of “Always Our Children”, the problematic USCCB document on homosexual persons and their pastoral care. This Mass is being held in honor of the homosexual community and their families. It will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan and Reverend Lucio Castillo, OMI. My contact in the parish says that it is for “healing of the families”.

    I hope that some faithful people in the area can attend this Mass and offer powerful witness to the eternal teachings of the Catholic Church, which are the very words of Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. Bishop Dolan is Bishop McElroy’s right-hand-man and highly respected in the community. He was briefly the pastor of Saint John the Evangelist and he is loved by the parishioners there.

    SJE has a Facebook page as well as a page for their Young Adults group. There is also a contact form to email the office on their website. Their phone number is (619) 291-1660.

    I look forward to seeing your comments as we engage them on all fronts.

  66. Andrew_81 says:

    Dear Father,

    You’ve done a singularly good job unpacking all that gobbledygook.

    I won’t judge the bishop as out to intentionally destroy morals and the Church. I think he probably thinks he does want to “help” homosexuals. He simply, like the vast majority of Catholics (and clergy, too!) has been so badly formed that he doesn’t understand what the Church is about. He is one of a large generation of people who wants to “celebrate the life” of the deceased man, and forgets to pray for his soul, which may be suffering in purgatory and needs prayers.

    He forgets that the primary purpose of the Church, as regards men, is about their sanctification, not their “inclusion”.

    When one “builds a bridge” it is often seen as going out to the marginalized and caring for them. So many, however, forget that a bridge is not a one-way road. We do go out to sinners or those outside the Church. And then we invite them back over the bridge where their souls can be sanctified: “Here’s the bridge to where you can save your soul” not “I hope you feel like you’re living a ‘meaningful’ life.”

    I think the bishop here, as so many other, do mean well, but are so confused about what is actually singularly important : the salvation of souls.

    Everything else, is pretty much worthless if you don’t save your soul.

    To “live meaningfully in the Church” we first have to live in the Church and that means to not only be a Baptized member, but also to be alive by Sanctifying Grace. The true “cancer” is that disease of soul that lacks that life of the Blessed Trinity in our soul.

    Would that a bishop say such words as “Sanctifying Grace” and “salvation of souls” and forget about “outreach”!

  67. Ave Crux says:

    Father, I thank God for you. I admire how you are able to keep a cool head while analyzing and demolishing the outrageous assertions and attacks on Catholic orthodoxy — and those who hold to it at great cost to themselves — made by this Bishop. It is such a great help to us. Thank you. [I slept on it, frankly, and ran it by someone else before posting it.]

    One observation on the compelling necessity of chastity…Did not Our Lord say it would be better to cut off our hand and pluck out our eye if they are an occasion of sin to us, rather than keep both and be plunged into hell…..?

    I cannot think of a more fearfully compelling and radical counsel on just how necessary for salvation chastity is….

  68. TonyO says:

    I wonder what Bishop McElroy thinks of the way St. Paul preached:

    When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    I wonder if he would be willing to try it for a change: cut through all the human eloquence, and preach only Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

  69. Michael_Haz says:

    “Build a bridge to the LGBT community”

    What comes next? Build a bridge to the abortionist community, or build a bridge to the pedophile community? Or perhaps build a bridge to the polyamory community? The spouse-sharing community?
    Snarkiness aside, there are segments of American society that want all of the above (and more, sadly) “normalized”.
    If the traditional beliefs regarding same sex attraction are pushed aside, it’s only a short step to “accepting” all other forms of behavior. Because inclusion or whatever.
    A flock of Fr. Martins will demand more and more that Catholics accept the unacceptable. The normalization of deviance.

  70. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Fr. Longenecker had a great response to the bishop. As he points out, the Bishop needs to remember the words of St. Paul:

    “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. c.f. Romans 1:18-32”

    It appears to me that many ‘liberal’ Christians want to ignore the words of St. Paul.

  71. St. Irenaeus says:

    I too like Fr Flores above would love to know where Augustine reminds us that Christ, being perfect, isn’t the best model for us, and recommended the lives of the saints, for the WWJD approach is problematic on a lot of levels.

  72. RobS says:

    I see now that Fr. Martin is now complaining in the pages of the Washington Post that he is being “silenced.”

    Would that we could all be afforded space in the seventh-largest newspaper in the US every time we were “silenced” by someone.

  73. Flos Carmeli says:

    Dear Masked Chicken,
    I read every word of your comment with great interest, as I have most of your comments here at WDTPRS (most notably, the ones regarding the “Charismatic movement”). Your analogy of the Church and Christ being the magnet is an apt one. I always appreciate your cohesive bird’s eye view of history. I usually find myself wishing I was one of your students!

    You said, “I feel very sad for them (your students) that many will never know the peace of being ordered rightly to God, all because the Church has substituted a dubious psychology for the truth about sin.”
    The problem of depression among the so-called Millennial Generation, and the subsequent high suicide rate, should be a major cause for concern. The false narrative of ignoring the sin to make the sinner feel better is actually propounding this sad state of affairs.

    You also said, ” …not only were the Millennials primed to accept the master plan, so to speak, of cultural upheaval, but they no longer had the sophistication of an historical narrative to show them why this was such a bad idea.”
    One of the main reasons my husband and I chose to pull the kids out of the parish Catholic school and home school them is because of the total absence of any real study of history. This hole in the curriculum was glaring and dangerous. The Catholic home school curriculum we use now makes the study of history central from the very beginning.

  74. Rich says:

    Tom of John of God,

    Thank you for your witness. It reminds me of Revelation 12:11: “And they have conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. ”

    May your witness continue to conquer.

  75. Suzanne says:

    This. This is what is the most hurtful to me in all the insipid nonsense that comes from one who is supposed to be a true shepherd:

    “The attacks on Building a Bridge tap into long-standing bigotry within the church and U.S. culture against members of the L.G.B.T. community. The persons launching these attacks portray the reconciliation of the church and the L.G.B.T. community not as a worthy goal but as a grave cultural, religious and familial threat. Gay sexual activity is seen not as one sin among others but as uniquely debased to the point that L.G.B.T. persons are to be effectively excluded from the family of the church. Pejorative language and labels are deployed regularly and strategically. The complex issues of sexual orientation and its discernment in the life of the individual are dismissed and ridiculed.”

    As a mother of a young man who is living the gay lifestyle in Cardinal Dolan’s diocese, a mother whose only concerns are the physical, psychological, emotional and above all spiritual health of my son, all I can think when I read this is, how dare you? How dare he accuse me of “long-standing bigotry”, desiring to “effectively” exclude my son “from the family of the church,” of dismissing and ridiculing men like my son, all because I, for one, know Church teaching, and have the true love in my heart that desires my son’s salvation?

    I will pray for this bishop, that he will come to know and truly understand Church teaching and the needs of homosexual persons – and if he chooses darkness over the light of truth, I pray fervently that we the Church will be protected from his “leadership.”

  76. Ylonila del Mar says:

    I make it a point to pray for Fr. Martin’s conversion every now and then. I’m glad there’s a group on Facebook dedicated to that.


  77. hwriggles4 says:

    Suggestion for faithful Catholics in the Diocese of San Diego:

    I am sure that faithful Catholics who walk the walk are making (or trying) to make their voices heard. Another way to make your voices heard is by refusing to participate in diocesan appeals and other monetary collections that would assist dissenters. Some of the faithful may already be doing this, and let the chancery office know why. This might lead to the chancery waking up.

  78. SanSan says:

    Well now I’m a homophob (sp?) and I have a “cancer” that needs to be cut out since I believe that sodomy is a great sin. I thought Bp. McElroy would just settle for looking at me as someone that needs to be labeled a racist, since I believe that “illegals” in our country should not have sanctuary, nor special priviledge. What’s a faithful Catholic to do these days? Who’s judging who?

  79. jbryant says:

    “…Father Martin undertook a particularly perilous project in this work of evangelization: building bridges between the church and the L.G.B.T. community in the United States.”

    There is a bridge – it’s called CONFESSION

  80. cathgrl says:


    “Father Martin has a right to acquire wealth the same as any other man, right?”

    No, not really. He took final vows with the Society of Jesus in November 2009, which includes the vow of poverty.

    “I mean, if he weren’t allowed to have personal wealth, then he would have to give that money to people engaged in causes he supports, and then they would get angry and lash out. And that couldn’t be what’s happening. Right?”

    Most likely, the proceeds from his writings are going directly to the Jesuits. If they don’t go directly to the Jesuits, that would only be with their permission. What the Jesuits do with that money, only Fr. Martin (perhaps) and the province knows. Also, if his superiors had any problem with what he is writing and saying (or not), I’m pretty sure they would let him know.

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