The Martin Machine is working overtime to protect their guy! I’m starting to wonder what’s really going on. I mean, is Fr. Martin’s ego so fragile it can’t take a few cancellations, or is there something bigger happening here? All of it seems a little over the top for even him.
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.”
Let me just say, this means oh-so-much to those of us who take the Faith seriously. Scorsese is the paragon of Catholicism to those of us just trying to get to Heaven?! Come on. Might I point out that Stephen King has also sold a boatload of books? And? Plus, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, apples to apples, Pope Benedict might outrank Martin in the bookselling business.
So the reaction when he agreed to speak this month to a group of parishes in central New Jersey was unalloyed elation, right?
Wrong. Within days of the announcement, parish officials were in a state better described as dread.
Oh my gosh! “Hollywood” Martin has been asked to speak?!?!? We should all get down on our knees and thank the Lord above! Mr. Bruni, a lot of us care a lot more about salvation than we’ll ever care about who does what in Hollywood. I mean, I’m obviously not a fan of Fr. Martin, but even I could come up with a better defense.
Check out the websites and Twitter accounts of far-right Catholic groups and you’ll see why. To them Father Martin is “sick,” “wicked,” “a filthy liar,” “the smoke of Satan” and a “heretic” on a fast track to “eternal damnation.” They obsessively stalk him and passionately exhort churchgoers to protest his public appearances or prevent them from happening altogether.
Has Mr. Bruni looked at Fr. Martin’s, say, Facebook page comments? Are we really going to go with glass houses here? I can’t speak for everyone, but I go days without thinking of Fr. Martin. In fact, I wouldn’t even be thinking about him now if he hadn’t lined up a barrage of articles slamming his critics. Interestingly enough, he/they never bother to take on the accusations. They just slander the characters of, well, everyone opposing them. If he were to speak in my local area, I’d probably work to get that cancelled too based on two things. First, he fails to encourage celibacy in our fellow Catholics suffering from same-sex attraction. Rather than a complete re-write on supportive evidence for this and many other mistakes, see Father Martin Pouring Gas on the Bridge and Lighting it on Fire. Second, he actually has said some heretical things. Before I comment on the latter, let’s take a gander at the next paragraph from the Times.
And they succeed. After the New Jersey parish in which his remarks were supposed to be delivered was inundated with angry phone calls, the event was moved off church grounds. Father Martin will give his spectacularly uncontroversial talk — “Jesus Christ: Fully Human, Fully Divine” — at a secular conference center in a nearby town.
Yeah, Fr. Martin is probably one of the last people who should do a talk entitled “Jesus Christ: Fully Human, Fully Divine” because he has, more than once, gotten that subject wrong.
Instead of babbling my own incoherent thoughts, I offer this piece by Fr. Thomas Petri, OP, on Martin’s errors. It’s a great read.
Why all this drama? What’s Father Martin’s unconscionable sin? In his most recent book, “Building a Bridge,” which was published in June, he calls on Catholics to show L.G.B.T. people more respect and compassion than many of them have demonstrated in the past.
That’s all. That’s it. He doesn’t say that the church should bless gay marriage or gay adoption. He doesn’t explicitly reject church teaching, which prescribes chastity for gay men and lesbians, though he questions the language — “intrinsically disordered” — with which it describes homosexuality.
Of course, Mr. Bruni, by his own admission, there are just some things he can’t say as a priest. I do like the way you use the term “explicitly.” Fr. Martin really doesn’t explicitly do much, but prefers the wink-and-nod tactic. Besides, he doesn’t have to say it. He just uses his surrogates to do the talking and collects the kudos and awards from them.
BTW, you kinda sorta have to admit he’s “advocating without advocating” for a whole lot of what you say he not advocating for in this piece: https://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/what-should-gay-catholic-do
I’d argue that I have more respect and compassion for “L.G.B.T. people.” You see, I want them to learn to take up their cross, follow Christ, and struggle with the rest of us towards everlasting life in our one, big Catholic family. Fr. Martin wants to keep the false narrative of how we hate them going. One should really, really stop and ask themselves why? Maybe that helps the book sales, but it doesn’t help reality and it doesn’t bring souls to Heaven.
Fr. Martin says he doesn’t touch on chastity and celibacy because it’s been covered. But where, Fr. Martin? Isn’t it covered by the people who supposedly hate the “L.G.B.T” community or are doing it all wrong? If you’re pushing the narrative that these people hate the “L.G.B.T.” community, shouldn’t you be teaching it, since you are apparently the only one whocan treat anyone with kindness? Hmmm???
If anyone knows me, you know I have friends who suffer from same-sex attraction. There’s ZERO hate on my part for anyone, including Fr. Martin. I’m just not one to put up with silliness, underhandedness, manipulation, and drawing people AWAY from the path of salvation found in the teachings of the Church. We just do the best we can to help each other get to Heaven. We talk about our struggles. We talk about how to conquer the sin in our lives, etc., etc., etc.
But that hasn’t stopped his detractors from casting him as a terrifying enemy of the faith — Regan in “The Exorcist” and Damien in “The Omen” rolled together and grown up into a balding and bespectacled Jesuit — and silencing him whenever they can. A talk about Jesus that he was supposed to give in London last fall was canceled. So was a similar talk at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America.
I find it odd that someone from the NY Times has done soooo little research into why people have problems with Fr. Martin. OK, I’m lying. I find it completely and utterly normal. Mr. Bruni is “gay” and as long as Fr. Martin keeps up with the “they hate gays” chant, why would he bother? I’m sure that Mr. Bruni also feels like he knows a lot about the Church because he was the “Rome reporter” for a while. I would hope that people would use due diligence, but when you’ve got an agenda to advance, truth is irrelevant.
And the vitriol to which he has been subjected is breathtaking, a reminder not just of how much homophobia is still out there but also of how presumptuous, overwrought, cruel and destructive discourse in this digital age can be.
“Inexcusably ugly” was how the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, described the attacks on Father Martin in an essay for the Catholic journal First Things in September. Archbishop Chaput is no progressive, but still he was moved to write that “the bitterness directed at the person of Father Martin is not just unwarranted and unjust; it’s a destructive counter-witness to the Gospel.” He cited a recent article in a French publication with the headline “Catholic Cyber-Militias and the New Censorship,” observing, “We live at a time when civility is universally longed for and just as universally (and too often gleefully) violated.”
Thanks, Your Excellency, for plugging my #CatholicCyberMilitia shop (couldn’t resist), but more importantly, how about the “faithful-phobia” going on?!?! Just to be clear, I agree with Archbishop Chaput that fraternal correction should be done in charity and ad hominems are wrong. That said, Archbishop Chaput also says this:
Clear judgment, tempered by mercy but faithful to Scripture and constant Church teaching, is an obligation of Catholic discipleship—especially on moral issues, and especially in Catholic scholarship. The perceived ambiguities in some of Fr. Martin’s views on sexuality have created much of the apprehension and criticism surrounding his book. There’s nothing vindictive in respectfully but firmly challenging those inadequacies. Doing less would violate both justice and charity.
We lose ground when attack the person rather than his tactics, arguments, etc. That said, I have NO problem calling him out on his inadequacies.
After Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego published a similar defense of Father Martin in the Jesuit magazine America, one of Father Martin’s devoted inquisitors tweeted: “If you think the anti-sodomite bigotry in the church is bad, you should see hell.”
Well, whoever that inquisitor is has a point, doesn’t he/she? LOL! Seriously! I only wish people were as uncomfortable with actual sodomy as they are with the use of the word. By the way, Mr. Bruni, I’m going to touch on mean statements in my next post. It deserves a bit of individual attention. If you want a preview, check out the comments on Fr. Martin’s Facebook page.
I spoke with Bishop McElroy recently, and he said that while there are calm-voiced critics of Father Martin with earnest concerns about what they see as the church’s drift from traditional sexual morality, there are also out-and-out bigots whose methods are “incompatible with what we hope to be as a church.”
Hmmm…I actually agree with this statement. That said, it goes both ways, Bishop McElroy. It goes both ways. To illustrate, please read some of the “faithful-phobic” comments on Fr. Martin’s repost of the BuzzFeed article.
“We have to face the fact that there is a group of people across all religious views that are particularly antagonistic to L.G.B.T. people,” he told me. “That comes from deep within the human soul, and it’s really corrosive and repugnant.”
Again, I can agree to that, but I think you’re trying to say that it’s the Catholic Church and many of her followers. It’s not.
I have known Father Martin for many years and have long been struck by the painstakingly careful balance that he maintains. Is he telling his fellow Catholics to judge L.G.B.T. people less harshly, whether they’re chaste or not? Absolutely. When he and I talked a few days ago, he repeated a recommendation in “Building a Bridge” that Catholic institutions stop firing gay people, which has happened repeatedly.
Here’s where Bruni’s lack of Catholic understanding shows. We don’t judge anyone, we judge their actions. You are, however, correct in one way. For some reason Fr. Martin thinks the “L.G.B.T. people” should get a pass for their actions (please note the lack of chastity he cited). Why would I want anyone to do anything that is damaging to their body and soul??? Why would anyone want to give that a pass?
“Straight couples do not have their sexual lives put under a microscope like that, nor are they targeted,” he told me. “A couple living together before they’re married aren’t fired from a Catholic school.” But that arrangement runs as afoul of church teaching as a sexually active gay or lesbian couple’s does.
Well, I’ve known of people fired from Catholic schools for a myriad of their actions coming to light – same-sex attracted, straight, single, etc. Personally, I think that’s how it should be. Why are we still having a debate about private sins becoming public and people being removed for them? Why is this a problem?
From listening to Father Martin, it’s certainly possible to conclude that, or at least wonder if, he has qualms with church teaching about homosexuality.
BAH-HAH-HAH-HAH! I almost spit my cabernet on my keyboard! This was the most unbiased and most intelligent thing in the whole article!! Kudos for this one, Mr. Bruni. But then…
But he’s so restrained and respectful that the president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States officially approved “Building a Bridge,” which has also been endorsed by an array of prominent cardinals and bishops.
“Jesuit Conference” means about as much to authentic Catholicism as “Hollywood director.”
And he trails behind many members of his faith in his publicly stated views. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center last June, 67 percent of Americans who identify as Catholic support the legalization of same-sex marriage, in contrast to 62 percent of Americans across the board.
I’m not sure why Bruni’s so fixated on publicly state views. It’s irrelevant. Martin extols groups corrected and/or censured by the Church. He is purposely ambiguous. He’s agreed on video to a comment that there are some things he can’t say due to his position in the Church, etc., etc., etc.
But the far right isn’t quietly ceding the fight. That’s clear not only in the response to Father Martin but also in a federal education bill, drafted by Republicans, that would protect colleges that ban openly gay relationships or bar gays from certain religious organizations on campus.
Well, duh. You don’t give up the fight for the salvation of souls because of numbers, good, bad or indifferent. And, are you saying we should compel religious organizations to accept homosexual acts? Sure, you are.
And in the church as in the government, the scorched-earth tactics of ultraconservatives often gives them a sway disproportionate to their actual numbers. “These online hate groups are now more powerful than local churches,” Father Martin said, referring specifically to Church Militant and to the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, which started a petition demanding that the New Jersey parishes cancel his appearance. It gathered 12,000 signatures.
Fr. Martin! You’re a one-man online hate group. Haters gonna hate! LOL! See how whiny and ridiculous it all is? Let’s just state a few things accurately for a change. First, people disagree with many of the things you say. Deal! It’s not because they hate you or those suffering from SSA or any other disorders. It’s simply because you are wrong and mislead good people. People have problems with your moral and theological positions. As far as Church Militant and TFP go, they very clearly stated all of the problems they had with you appearing in a Catholic church. You have failed to rebut one point but, instead, called them bullies. I know this might be a shock, but “Bullies!” is not actually a rebuttal to accusations. Man up! Oh, and by the way, “We hate gays!” was not in the petition. In case you were wondering, Mr. Bruni, here’s the things they actually cited:
Fr. Martin said Catholics should “reverence” homosexual unions
Fr. Martin supports the acceptance of transgenderism for children
Fr. Martin favors homosexual kissing during Mass (sacrilege against God)
Fr. Martin calls dissident, pro-homosexual nun a “saint”
Fr. Martin welcomed an award from New Ways Ministry, a group condemned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Fr. Martin is not interested in actually rebutting the accusations. Are you?
Lyle Garcia, 72, one of the parishioners involved in the decision to invite Father Martin, admitted to me that he was “very concerned” that in changing the location of the event, they’d rewarded and emboldened the haters. But at least, he said, the talk would proceed.
As will Father Martin. An expanded edition of “Building a Bridge” will be published in March, and it includes material about L.G.B.T. Catholics who told him, as he promoted the book, that it had given them desperately needed comfort.
“I’m at total peace,” he told me. “I really am. An ocean of hate online is really wiped out by just a few tears from an L.G.B.T. person.” Only one thing to say to that: Amen.
Wait, what?! Nice, flowery line of poetry, Fr. Martin, but the firestorm of hit pieces from your minions against “the haters” tells a different tale. But, heck, playing the martyr card might garner you a few more sales. That said, might I offer you a few more tips? You should let your minions do the work. The quotes from you in every hit piece and all the tweets make it kind of obvious who is behind it all. I know it’s hard, but sssshhhhh! If you really want to score points, take to task those on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, and comboxes who are slandering your “haters.” That would go a long way to bolstering what big meanies “the haters” are, because screen captures might come back to bite you. Finally, give up on poetry.
Can’t wait to see what today brings!