The Vilification of the Dastardly Distorters

I really have no time this week but I can tell when a blog post is just going to write itself, and this one will!

First off, I really thought Fr. James Martin, SJ was doing a stellar job managing his own martyr complex.  I mean, seriously, he really had no need for help on this front.  He’s got that locked up.  Now, maybe Bishop McElroy is sad everyone’s pretty much ignoring him, except those who can’t.  (Sorry, San Diego faithful!)  This was a probably a frantic attention grab.  “Look at me!  I’m over here and I’m a cool Catholic too!”

That said, it’s been a really bad few weeks for Fr. Martin.  Maybe the troops are just trying to re-inflate his ego after Cardinal Sarah, revoked invitations here and here, a smack-down of the “canonical approval” of his book idea– and who could forget his own misstep at Fordham where the entire panel, including him, admitted he wasn’t being candid because being a priest and Jesuit precluded him from being so.  (How stupid I felt after all of these years thinking that’s what a priest/Jesuit was supposed to do!)

Here’s Bishop McElroy’s public shaming of the meanies: 

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.

When did “notorious” and “distinguished” become synonymous?  And, wait!  “Building bridges WITHIN the Catholic Church?!?!”  I can only remotely see that being said if “building” includes a complete demolition of the Church first.

He has been particularly effective in bringing the Gospel message to the millennial generation.

Oh, he’s bringing a message to the millennial generation, alright, but it’s not quite from the Gospels unless we’re going with some sort of Gnostic Gospel.

 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.

I think I must have missed Fr. James Martin, SJ becoming a millennial rockstar who’s packing the churches full of millennials.  Please.  Can we be just a little honest here?  Fr. Martin, SJ reaches those who believe in an active homosexual lifestyle and those who sympathize with active homosexual lifestyles.  Now, apparently, Bishop McElroy thinks that all or most millennials are concerned with the Catholic Church and her attitude toward homosexuality.  Yeah, not so much.  Most are just worried about their lifestyle choices being accepted by whoever.  To say that millennials at large are screaming like Beatles fans over Fr. Martin, SJ is to be suffering from SJW (social justice warrior, for those not up with the current shorthand) delusions of grandeur. How about you walk up to the nearest millennial and ask them if they even know who Fr. James Martin, SJ is? 

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.

And here’s where I think Bishop McElroy is totally out of touch.  He actually thinks that this is the be all and end of all of Catholic life.  “If only we could span this active homosexual/Church doctrine divide with a bridge, our churches would be full again!”   Sorry.  You want to see THE “most volatile element of ecclesial life in the U.S. culture?”  Try birth control. Try IVF.  Try cohabitating.  Try sex outside of marriage.   Take your pick.  Bishop McElroy, Fr. Martin, and their little club don’t realize that the rest of the Church is focused on other things.

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, 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.

Wow!  I thought that the Church’s teaching was constant with Catholic teaching but, hey, whatever.  Why is it that Fr. Martin, SJ feels the need to open a door for any of us?  Who are all of these people saying anything different than “Jesus Christ and his church seek to embrace fully and immediately men and women in the L.G.B.T. community?”  Please don’t fall for the “If I say it enough it’ll be true!” tactic of Martin, Cupich, McElroy, and club.  They know quite well we’re begging those suffering from SSA to embrace the Church because we love them  In short, while we tell them the Church loves them, we also tell them what the Church teaches and how the Church has helped us to struggle with our own sins.  Fr. Martin and fan club don’t want that to get out, so they’ll try to convince as many others as they can to join in the martyr complex.

Building a Bridge is a serious book, and any such work invites substantive criticism and dialogue.

If I had been drinking, my keyboard would be toast.  How did he type that one with a straight face?  I believe Cardinal Sarah just gave you plenty of substantive criticism and dialogue, along with MANY others.  It apparently fell on rather deaf ears so let me just remind you, Bishop McElroy: http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/09/01/cardinal-sarah-critiques-fr-james-martin-on-homosexuality/

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.

Wouldn’t this be quite similar with any group struggling with sin?  Hey, here’s an idea: how about some generic homilies on overcoming temptation and sin?  Oh wait.  I think you’d actually have to use the words temptation, sin, struggle, etc. and those words are so judge-y.  Silly me.

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.

How can you distort something that’s already distorted?  That was on Fr. Martin.  While there are some people out there with evil intent, there are many out there with VERY just anger!  We have friends who suffer.  We have friends whose kids suffer, etc.  We don’t live in the SJW ivory tower.  We live in the real world.  We get to live with the very real effects of a world that gives up its struggle against sin.  So, please, drop the proxy martyr complex.  And, by the way, Fr. Martin assassinated his character a long time ago.

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. 

I can hear the violins now.  Let’s break out a little honest, shall we?  The cancer in the Church is not those of us angry with sin, it’s those who placate sin.  That kind of means you, Bishop McElroy.  You speak of distortion but you don’t even bother to offer evidence.  So who is really the one distorting what’s going on here?  Is it you or, say, Cardinal Sarah? Let me guess.  Your position as a priest and bishop limits you to ambiguous accusations, right?

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.

Bravo “major institutions!”  Your stance for clear, concise Catholic teaching in the case of Fr. Martin is laudable!  Your aid to those of us who struggle with sin, and in this case particularly those struggling with same-sex attraction, is appreciated.  Go Catholics!

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.

Oh, ho!  Not good enough to be a proxy martyr for Fr. Martin, now it’s Pope Francis?  And judgmentalism?  Uh, hello!  Judge away, as far as sin goes, people!   Here’s a nice little section of the catechism on judgement.  Not shockingly, it’s in the conscience section and, also not shockingly, Bishop McElroy and pals seem to hope to keep you hopelessly in the dark to its existence with their nice little vilification (a word Bishop McElroy is fond of) of judging.

1795 “Conscience is man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary.  There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths” (GS 16).

1796 Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act.

1797 For the man who has committed evil, the verdict of his conscience remains a pledge of conversion and of hope.

1798 A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful.  It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator.  Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience.

1799 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.

1800 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.

1801 Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments.  Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt.

1802 The Word of God is a light for our path.  We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice.  This is how moral conscience is formed.

 

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.

Or it’s a load of hooey.  I vote that.

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.

 Prove your case, Bishop McElroy, and stop with all of the ambiguous accusations.  I realize it’s just easier to say “There’s a boogeyman under your bed!” but wouldn’t it be nice to treat people like they have half a brain?

Now, Bishop, I know you’re hoping that people are just going to take your word for it but I am going to actually put the link to the teaching: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

Yeah, I know many have seen this before but I see a whole lot of other “offenses” against chastity listed there.  I see some for married folk, single folk, and same-sex attracted folk.  What I always find a bit ironic is that, while you seem to think same-sex attracted people deserves special treatment when it comes to their sins, you also claim offense that the Church has a special section right before the special section for married folks.    Also, did anyone see the part of Church teaching which dismisses or ridicules the complex situation of sexual orientation?  Yeah, me neither.

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. 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.

Well, that IS funny.  I so wish we could have a coordinated attack against anyone leading those suffering from SSA into sin but, sadly, we have a lot of fronts we’re fighting. Wait!  Did I just not get the call?  Come on guys!  I know I’m small time but could you just clue me in everyone once in a while????

  The second corrosive impulse of the campaign against Building a Bridge flows from a distortion of Catholic moral theology.

Oh my.  He is a bit paranoid, no?  Honestly, Bishop, there is no campaign. There’s just a whole lot of us who think the book stinks and will further lead people to ditch the struggle in hope that Truth conforms to their will.  No big conspiracy, although I’m totally going to be bummed if I found out there is one and nobody let me in on the secret handshake!

I think this is the third time or so I’m going to call you on your accusation, Bishop.  I mean, I, as well as many others, have happily quoted Fr. Martin, SJ as our evidence time and again.  Might you do the same in regards to the grand conspirators?

The goal of the Catholic moral life is to pattern our lives after that of Jesus Christ. 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.

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.

What the what???  Nice try, Bishop McElroy.  Are you purposely trying to confuse people?  Why are you mixing commandments and virtues?  Chastity falls under the CARDINAL virtue of temperance.  Again – READ. THE. CATECHISM.  Do not take anything at face value.  I will happily link to avoid “distortion:” http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

By the way, if you gander at this link, you will find chastity a vocation to all.  Meh. Small potatoes.  (Sarcasm alert!)

Now, what is a Cardinal Virtue, you might ask (or at least Bishop McElroy should)?  “The four principal virtues upon which the rest of the moral virtues turn or are hinged. http://www.newadvent.com/cathen/03343a.htm

No biggie.  Oh, by the way again, it’s mighty hard to achieve the commandments of Christ you so confusingly stated without these virtues.  But yeah, chastity isn’t central at all.  It’s just a little itty-bitty footnote under the Cardinal Virtue of temperance.

This distortion of our faith cripples many of our discussions of sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular.

Oh, I totally agree on this.  Too bad you are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

The overwhelming prism through which we should look at our moral lives is that we are all called to live out the virtues of Christ; we all succeed magnificently at some and fail at others. 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.

OOOhhhh!  This is actually kind of a good analogy you stumbled upon, Bishop McElroy.  The geeky, science-loving girl is going to point out that when you look through a prism, it refracts or distorts!  Maybe that’s your problem.  Get a good pair of glasses and stop looking through prisms!  You’re the one who supposedly hates distortions.