Pope Francis Praises Pro-Gay Jesuit Father James Martin

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ROME — Pope Francis has written a glowing forward to a new book by gay rights activist Father James Martin, calling him a “person who has fallen in love with the Word of God.”

Last week, Pope Francis caused a stir by reiterating the Catholic Church’s ban on accepting homosexuals into seminary training, to which Father Martin countered that the Church would be “immeasurably poorer” without gay priests.

“In my 25 years as a priest and almost 40 as a Jesuit, I’ve known hundreds of holy, faithful and celibate gay priests,” Father Martin wrote on X. “They’ve been my superiors, my teachers, my confessors, my mentors, my spiritual directors and my friends.”

His books have been so controversial, in fact, that several high-ranking prelates have felt the need to issue public corrections of the ideas expressed in them.

Father James Martin

File/Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America Magazine, is interviewed at the publication’s offices, in New York, Monday, May 21, 2018. Pope Francis’ reported comments to a gay man that “God made you like this” have been embraced by the LGBT community. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Emeritus Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, for instance, warned Catholics of a “pattern of ambiguity” in Father Martin’s teachings on the matter of homosexuality.

“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues,” the archbishop wrote, “I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.”

“Father Martin’s public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God’s law,” wrote Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois in response to Chaput’s essay.

“People with same-sex attraction are indeed created and loved by God and are welcome in the Catholic Church. But the Church’s mission to these brothers and sisters is the same as to all her faithful: to guide, encourage, and support each of us in the Christian struggle for virtue, sanctification, and purity,” he said.

“Archbishop Chaput has provided a helpful caution to Catholics about Father James Martin,” Paprocki wrote, especially since Father Martin “either encourages or fails to correct behavior that separates a person” from God’s love.

“This is deeply scandalous in the sense of leading people to believe that wrongful behavior is not sinful,” he said.

On Twitter, the bishop offered his kudos to Archbishop Chaput “for his column on the theological and moral errors of Fr Martin.”

“He praises his outreach but challenges his moral and theological thoughts. He also states clearly that this is a great error,” Bishop Stika said.

In 2017, Cardinal Robert Sarah, who then led the Vatican’s liturgical department, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal asserting that people who identify as LGBT are owed the truth that same-sex relations “are gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them,” especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church.

In his critique, the Cardinal made explicit reference to Father Martin’s book Building a Bridge for its glaring absence of Catholic teaching on sexual morality for those who experience same-sex attraction.

In his op-ed, Cardinal Sarah said that no one should be identified by their sexual proclivities, but rather first and foremost as a human being and a child of God.

“In her teaching about homosexuality, the church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions,” Sarah wrote.

Same-sex attraction is “at odds with human nature,” he wrote, adding that this truth is sadly missing in the book by Martin, who is “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality” among Catholic priests.

Those who speak on behalf of the church “must be faithful to the unchanging teachings of Christ, because only through living in harmony with God’s creative design do people find deep and lasting fulfillment,” he writes.

Cardinal Sarah insisted that the Church’s teaching on sexual morality is part of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ, and should not be hidden away but preached in love.

Pope Francis has heaped praise and honors on Father Martin, despite the latter’s open advocacy for Gay Pride demonstrations, gay families, gay priests, gay marriage, and LGBT Catholics.

In 2021, the pope penned a personal, handwritten letter to Father Martin, in which he thanked the priest for his “pastoral zeal” and his “ability to be close to people, with that closeness that Jesus had and that reflects the closeness of God.”

“Our Heavenly Father approaches with love every one of his children, each and every one,” the letter states. “His heart is to open to each and every one. He is Father.”

“You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is the Father for all men and women,” Francis wrote. “I pray for you to continue in this way, being close, compassionate, and with great tenderness.”

The following year, Francis publicly praised Father Martin as a “man of values.”

“We cannot descend to a communication devoid of values. We must communicate with our values,” the pontiff told members of the Vatican’s communication department, of which Martin is a member.

“For example, I see James Martin here. ‘Ah, yes, he works…’ Yes, but this one wrote a book called Learning to Pray. Read it, because it teaches you how to pray.”

“A man who has values, a communicator who also knows how to teach you how to communicate with God,” he continued. “That’s what being a communicator is. Going, walking, taking risks, with values, convinced that I am giving my life with my values, Christian values and human values.”

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