Father Martin’s Double Standard
“The Rev. James Martin is a Roman Catholic rock star.”
His books, including one on Jesus Christ and another on the saints, have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The director Martin Scorsese has twice hired him to consult on movies with religious themes. Television producers love him: Back when Stephen Colbert had his Comedy Central show, Father Martin popped up frequently as its “official chaplain.”
Neither film director Scorsese nor comedian Colbert are particularly qualified to vouch for Father Martin’s orthodoxy. The latter is known for his defense of Planned Parenthood;3 and the former for blasphemous films such as The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Silence (2016). About this second film—for which Father Martin was a consultant—Brad Miner comments in The Catholic Thing:
Scorsese’s Silence is not a Christian film by a Catholic filmmaker, but a justification of faithlessness: apostasy becomes an act of Christian charity when it saves lives, just as martyrdom becomes almost satanic when it increases persecution. “Christ would have apostatized for the sake of love,” Ferreira tells Rodrigues, and, obviously, Scorsese agrees.4
An Ill-Suited Celebrity
As for the “Roman Catholic rock star,” his fame comes to some extent from his work in favor of the homosexual movement. It earned him the Bridge Building Award on October 30, 2016, from the dissident Catholic pro-homosexual group News Ways Ministry, a group that was condemned both by the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.5
A One-Way Bridge
Now it so happens that traffic on his bridge moves in only one direction.
There is no room on his bridge for Catholics who are faithful to Scripture and the perennial Magisterium of the Church and therefore disagree with his position on “LGBT people.”
In fact, while Father Martin is sweet and “nonjudgmental” towards “LGBT people,” in relation to Catholics who stand firm in the faith, he issues severe judgments on their supposedly hidden intentions and secret hatreds. For him, such Catholics are moved by hatred, fear, and a spirit of revolt.
Legitimate Petition and Unjust Reaction
All doubt on this is dispelled by a quick visit to Father Martin’s Facebook page to see what he posted on January 27, 2018, at 7:45 pm.8
His post was prompted by a petition of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. Its more than 12,000 lay Catholic signers made use of the “glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21) to caution their brethren in the Faith about this Jesuit’s scandalous attitude towards homosexual sin.
In this petition, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Whitehouse Station, in the diocese of Metuchen, N.J., was asked to cancel Father Martin’s February 15 talk, because of his positions that contradict Catholic morality in relation to the homosexual movement (LGBT).
Because of the petition, the talk was transferred from the parish to a local conference and banquet center. And this led to Father Martin’s unjust online reaction.
“What Motivates Them: Hate”
Contrary to the subtlety Jesuits were once famous for, Father Martin’s language is direct, blunt, and aggressive. It is not what one would expect from a shepherd or a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications.
He refers to TFP as “a far-right website,” “caving into bullying.” He qualifies the calls of the faithful to the parish as “angry calls from often anonymous hate-mongers.” He alerts his readers about “the danger of online hate groups;” the “traffic in lies and innuendos.” He claims that “groups of haters are superseding the authority of superiors.” He dogmatizes, “what motivates them: hate.”
For Father Martin, these faithful “use doctrine as a cover for hatred to replace true church authority,” to create “a church run by hate.” In addition to hatred, according to the priest, these faithful are “driven by abject fear.” And he warns that “[f]ear has a [sic] insidious way of overtaking reason.” He theorizes: “perfect love drives out fear. But perfect fear drives out love.”
A New and Misguided “Inquisition” in the Making?
Father Martin concludes his diatribe with an appeal to the bishops so that, aided by liberal clergy and laity, they will institute a new “Inquisition” to silence faithful Catholics:
So it’s finally time for bishops, priests and lay leaders finally to stand up to the hate-mongering of online groups with no standing whatsoever in the church, who seek to substitute their spurious authority for legitimate church authority, and who seek to run the church by fear and hatred.9
His call for censorship of faithful Catholics stands in sharp contrast with the conduct he proposes the Church adopt towards “LGBT people.”
In Building a Bridge Father Martin suggests that the Church’s attitude toward “LGBT people” should be:
“[T]o treat the LGBT community with ‘respect, compassion, and sensitivity.’”10
No Compassion for Conservatives?
But do the lay faithful whose fidelity to the Catholic Faith moves them to disagree with Father Martin’s attitudes and errors publicly not deserve any “respect, compassion, and sensitivity”? More than this, should they not be encouraged and thanked for their public witness to the faith?
Father Martin’s double standard reminds us of the admonition in the book of Proverbs:
“Varying weights, varying measures, are both an abomination to the LORD.” (20:10)
- According to the OUT web site, Frank Bruni is an open homosexual. (Cf. Jesse Oxfeld, “Our Boys On The Bus” OUT, Oct. 29, 2008, accessed Feb. 6, 2018, https://www.out.com/entertainment/2008/10/29/our-boys-bus).
- Frank Bruni, “The Scariest Catholic in America,” The New York Times, Feb. 3, 2018, accessed Feb. 6, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/opinion/sunday/scariest-catholic-james-martin.html. All emphasis is mine.
- Cf. Emma Carmichael, “Remembering Stephen Colbert’s Legendary Defense of Planned Parenthood,” GAWKER, Feb. 4, 2012, accessed Feb. 5, 2018, http://gawker.com/5882285/remembering-stephen-colberts-legendary-defense-of-planned-parenthood.
- Brad Miner, “Christus Apostata: Scorsese’s ‘Silence’” The Catholic Thing, Dec. 26, 2016, accessed Feb. 6, 2018, https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2016/12/26/christus-apostata-scorseses-silence/.
- Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Notification Regarding Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19990531_gramick-nugent-notification_en.html; “USCCB President Clarifies Status of New Ways Ministry,” Feb. 12, 2010, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, http://www.usccb.org/news/2010/10-028.cfm.
- James Martin, S.J., Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity (San Francisco: Harper One, 2017), 145. Father Martin’s book received an Imprimatur from the Very Rev. John Cecero, S.J., Provincial Superior, USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus.
- Cf. Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, Are “LGBT People” Other Christs? A Review of Fr. James Martin’s Building a Bridge, Jan. 24, 2018, accessed Feb. 8, 2018, https://www.tfp.org/lgbt-people-christs-review-fr-james-martins-building-bridge/.
- Accessed Feb. 8, 2018, https://www.facebook.com/FrJamesMartin/posts/10155062062906496.
- Building a Bridge, 19.