The Cost of Doing Nothing (about Fr. James Martin), Part 1

If you don’t know who Fr. James Martin is, introductions are in order.  He is a Jesuit priest that works for the pope and the author of a recently published book, Building a Bridge, which seeks to broker some reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community. He wants you to know that he comes in peace.  But the peace he is offering is unacceptable to many faithful Catholics, for it is a peace that comes at too high a price.  And the price for those Christians who strive to uphold the perennial doctrines of the faith?   It is unconditional surrender.  Consider some of the outrageous statements he has made in interviews and in his book:

  • Listen to the audio below. Before 2:30 into the recording, Fr. Martin opines that gays should be able to kiss each other during the sign of peace.  Are there any other sins he would like to see at Mass—more kleptomania during the collection perhaps? Any reasonable person would conclude that Martin sees nothing wrong with homosexual behavior if he doesn’t mind seeing it expressed at Mass.

  • In fact, this is one of Martin’s constant messages—there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality.  Of course the Church disagrees with Fr. Martin on this point. “Intrinsically disordered” is how the Catechism (CCC 2357) describes homosexual behavior, hardly a ringing endorsement of homosexuality.  And Martin predictably objects to this language both in his book and in interviews.  This is from his book:

One way to be sensitive is to consider the language we use. Some bishops have already called for the church to set aside the phrase “objectively disordered” when it comes to describing the homosexual inclination (as it is in the Catechism, No. 2358). The phrase relates to the orientation, not the person, but it is still needlessly hurtful. Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person— the part that gives and receives love— is “disordered” in itself is needlessly cruel. Setting aside such language was discussed at the Synod on the Family, according to several news outlets. Later, in 2016, an Australian bishop, Vincent Long Van Nguyen, said in a lecture: “We cannot talk about the integrity of creation, the universal and inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces of oppression in the ill-treatment of racial minorities, women, and homosexual persons.  .  .  . It won’t wash with young people, especially when we purport to treat gay people with love and compassion and yet define their sexuality as “intrinsically disordered.” Part of sensitivity is understanding this (pp. 46-47). [emphasis added]

  • Martin suggests we say “differently ordered” instead of “intrinsically disordered.”  That small change in wording, however, amounts to a mountain of change in doctrine.  For starters, he’s flirting with Pelagianism—a heresy with many tentacles that basically asserts that man can be good independent of God’s grace.  His heavy use of Ps. 139—”You are wonderfully made”— further suggests that Martin is espousing the heretical “I’m ok, you’re ok” philosophy.  When he told a pro-LGBT audience that God made gays who they are, he left little room for the doctrine that original sin burdens all of us with a fallen—and yes, disordered—human nature.

There’s certainly no room for St. Paul, who, in Romans 1, explicitly condemned homosexuality as an “unnatural (disordered) passion.”   But if there is no room for St. Paul, then we are also forced to give up the Nicene Creed, which upholds the Apostolic foundations of our faith.  And if Apostolic teaching is not to be trusted, neither is Christ’s teaching.  For Paul claimed to be preaching, not his own words, but the Word of God (1Thess. 2:13).  And if the Word of God is not infallible, nothing is.  Unconditional surrender indeed. On Martin’s terms, the price of LGBT inclusion is nothing less than the defenestration of Christ and his apostles.

So what are we to do about this?  Amazingly, some who oppose Martin have suggested that we do nothing:

We all struggle with something to make our lives square away with the rigorous demands of Divine Revelation. And when we try, we find it’s not so rigorous.  Rather, His yoke is easy and His burden light.  We are not perfect, but we try. You can’t really struggle against your own sins by following Christ if you’re spending too much time on Fr. James Martin (or listening to him) so leave him alone.  Source: Leave Fr. James Martin Alone! | Padre Peregrino [emphasis added]

If you want my opinion, that is the worst advice I’ve ever heard, however well-intentioned it may have been.  Fr. Martin has become an influential media celebrity of sorts, and he enjoys the support of many theologians and bishops.  And let us not forget who his boss is—Martin works directly for the Vatican, remember, and the fact that he has received no censure whatsoever sends a chilling message.  It makes the pope look complicit in Martin’s campaign to normalize homosexuality.

Dissent against Church teaching on sexuality has been ravaging the Church for decades now—all because not enough has been done.  Dissent now is so common that easily it represents the mainstream—inside as well as outside the Church.  The good padre quoted above would have us “leave Fr. James Martin alone” and, instead, tend to our own souls.  But once the dissent finally reaches your very own parish, even the tending of your soul becomes compromised. How, for example, can I be expected to raise my children in the faith—a solemn duty of parents—when the pastor undermines that faith every opportunity he gets?

This is precisely the situation which I find myself in. You see, this past summer my parish was assigned a new pastor, Fr. William Long.  And he has been quite busy burning the Church down with every homily and church bulletin that he writes.  And much of what he says seems to come straight from the mouth of Fr. Martin.  Thus it is no surprise that the parish book club, led by the director of adult faith formation, is getting ready to study Fr. Martin’s new book.

 

Today, my family has no parish home, and the kids have no choir to sing in—this, the cost of doing nothing.  Pretty soon it will be the only thing left that we can do—nothing.

So let me make this clear.  What Cardinal Burke has said (see above) about priests and bishops is true as well of the laity: our silence is complicity in apostasy.  Many members of my parish have not been silent about Fr. Long’s apostasy. They have written letters to the diocese to help them understand the gravity of the situation. But it is has now become clear from Fr. Long’s own words that he denies making any heretical statements.  So  in my next post I will be publishing a recording of Fr. Long’s words.  And you can decide for yourself if he’s Catholic.

[Coming Next: The Heresies of Fr. William Long]

No, Amoris Laetitia Does Not Threaten Papal Infallibility

Here is a very illuminating article by John Zmirak about the Amoris Laetitia controversy that is threatening to bring civil war right into the Catholic College of Cardinals.  Four cardinals have publicly asked the pope to clarify his statements in Amoris Laetitia that appear to permit divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without changing their mortally sinful situation.  This is a clear change in practice with all sorts of implications for the Church’s teaching on mortal sin, the sacraments of reconciliation and communion.  According to Rod Dreher, these four cardinals have now been threatened with demotion.

In Zmirak’s article, he claims that the controversy threatens the Church’s teaching on papal infallibility. Bold emphasis is mine:

Q: So what does this mean for the authority of your church?A: If Pope Francis does not reverse course and reconcile his teaching on divorce and remarriage with perennial church teaching, but instead makes a new teaching binding on all Catholics, then he will be teaching heresy — full stop, and imposing it on the whole Church. If infallibility doesn’t stop that, I don’t see what use it is.Q: Can’t you just declare him a heretic and depose him?A: No, we cannot. Vatican I in 1870 taught that popes can teach infallibly, and that they cannot be judged by anyone or ever removed from office.Q: But God can’t contradict Himself either. He can’t let you teach one thing at the Council of Trent, then the opposite today.A: No, He can’t.Q: How can the doctrine of papal infallibility survive this?A: Fans of logic will note that it can’t. If Pope Francis continues on the course he has chosen, he will prove, empirically, that this teaching was never true in the first place.Q: What will that mean for the First Vatican Council?A: That council, and every other council the Catholic Church has held since the great Schism with the Orthodox in 1054, will be called into question. The Orthodox theory, that it was Rome which went off the rails back then, will start looking pretty persuasive. Last time I checked, making the case for that was not the Roman pontiff’s job.

Source: An FAQ for All Christians on Divorce, Pope Francis and the Bishops Questioning Him | The Stream  [Read the whole article. It’s very informative.]

In researching this issue (late last night), I came across Lumen Gentium, paragraph 25. It appears to me that this paragraph was intended to clarify and limit the teaching of the First Vatican Counphoto-lumen-gentiumcil. Yes, popes are infallible, but this does not give them the power to contradict prior revelation.  Here is the rough-cut explanation that I gave over in the com box of Dreher’s article.  It includes a direct quote from the relevant passage of Lumen Gentium 25:

If I am reading Lumen Gentium 25 correctly (which deals explicitly with infallibility), this dispute has no bearing on papal infallibility:

“When the Roman Pontiff, or the body of bishops together with him, define a doctrine, they make the definition in conformity with revelation itself, to which all are bound to adhere and to which they are obliged to submit; and this revelation is transmitted . . . through the legitimate succession of bishops and above all through the watchful concern of the Roman Pontiff himself. . . .” (LG 25)

This is the very thing the dubia are questioning—whether the controversial portions of Amoris Laetitia are in conformity with prior teachings. LG 25 concludes with a reference to Vatican Council I that no one may “admit any new public revelation as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.”

The dubia, by dint of their very existence, render the issue of infallibility moot. The issue of infallibility could come into play,however, if the pope chose to answer the dubia. For it seems that infallibility only applies when doctrines are defined and clarified in light of and in conformity to prior revelation. This is exactly what the pope has refused to do, but LG 25 seems to be saying that this is his solemn obligation. . . .

 

Thus, it seems pretty clear that the “logical” problem posed by Zmirak above is resolved by Lumen Gentium 25: Because all authority must submit to prior revelation, if there is a conflict with a new papal teaching, authority rests with prior revelation and not the pope. LG 25 is clear that, in the event of a conflict, it is the pope who must submit to the superior authority of tradition.  If the pope is not a lawless one, he will always be obedient to the Word of God, the authority of the Apostles, and to the Sacred Tradition handed down by “the legitimate succession of bishops.”  Let us pray for our pope and our Church.