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by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo | January 24, 2018

 

A Catholic soul is filled with sadness when it must criticize a member of the once glorious Society of Jesus founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a religious order that did so much good for the Church. Alas, corruptio optimi pessima—the corruption of the best is the worst of all.

This reflection comes to mind looking at the book by Fr. 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.1 Father Martin is an American Jesuit priest, writer, and editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America. In April 2017, Pope Francis appointed him as a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications.

A Serious Omission: the Distinction Between Homosexual Tendency and Act

Throughout the book, Father Martin carefully avoids distinguishing between persons with same-sex attraction who resist these deviant tendencies with the help of grace and those who indulge in unnatural proclivities, turning them into acts.

He refers to the “LGBT community” and “LGBT people”2 to designate homosexuals and “transgenders,” lumping together those who suffer from same-sex attraction but resist and those who succumb to unnatural vice. However, the “LGBT” acronym does not apply to those who resist temptation but only to activists who seek to impose on society the acceptance of their unnatural practices and way of life as normal and even excellent.

 

Dishonest Sleight-of-Hand

Father Martin uses a dishonest artifice to deceive the unwary. He takes the Catechism’s assertion that people with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and that “unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,”3 and applies them to homosexual activists and “transgenders.” He devotes the entire first part of his book to commenting on how people should show “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” to members of the LGBT movement!

It is not with tricks that we show love for Truth and charity to neighbor, but by laboring honestly to free sinners from the enslavement of vice and restoring them to virtue and faithfulness to God and His Law.

 

The Condemned New Ways Ministry Is at the Book’s Origin

Fr. James Martin tells us how New Ways Ministry is at the origin of his book:

"When New Ways Ministry, a group that ministers to and advocates for LGBT Catholics, asked just a few weeks after the Orlando tragedy if I would accept their “Bridge Building Award” and give a talk at the time of the award ceremony, I agreed. The name of the award, as it turned out, inspired me to sketch out an idea for a “two-way bridge” that might help bring together both the institutional church and the LGBT community."

The bulk of this book is that talk, which has been expanded into a longer essay.4 

However, Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, founders of New Ways Ministry, and authors of a 1992 book significantly titled Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church, were condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999.5 

Furthermore, New Ways Ministry itself was condemned in a 2010 statement by Francis Cardinal George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,6 and again in a 2011 statement signed by Donald Cardinal Wuerl and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone:

"In view of the recent booklet Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, by Francis DeBernardo (published by New Ways Ministry), we, as the respective chairmen of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, wish to reaffirm Francis Cardinal George’s statement of February 12, 2010 and assure Catholics that in no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization."7 

 

“Canonize” a Rebel, Pro-Homosexual Nun?

New Ways Ministry co-founder Sr. Jeannine Gramick declared her support for same-sex “marriage” publicly.8 Notwithstanding this and her Vatican condemnation, Father Martin expressed his admiration for her and suggested, perhaps in jest, that she should be canonized.9 

 

A Defense of Homosexuality and “Transgenderism”

Father Martin’s prayer “composed for all who feel excluded, rejected, marginalized, shamed or persecuted” (read: LGBT, etc.) at the end of the book, summarizes the thesis of the book:

"Loving God, you made me who I am…. And, God, help me remember that Jesus loves me. For he too was seen as an outcast. He too was misunderstood. He too was beaten and spat upon. Jesus understands me and loves me with a special love, because of the way you made me."10 

Father Martin blasphemously implies that it was God himself who made these individuals homosexual and “transgender.” Borrowing from Liberation Theology’s view of the “marginalized” and poor as “oppressed,”11 he suggests that they are persecuted because of a God-given unnatural deviation, and this condition supplies them with a redemptive character. In other words, just as Christ was despised, rejected, and immolated on the Cross to save men, so also those who allow themselves to be carried away by the vice of homosexuality or who revolt against the sex of their birth (which was indeed God-given), are “misunderstood” “outcast” “beaten and spat upon.” They are victims. Like other “Christs,” they suffer for the rest of men.

 

Normalizing Sexual Deviance

Given this implicit and shocking premise, everything the Church has taught about morality and sins against nature must be changed, beginning with this statement in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “This inclination [to same-sex attraction]…is objectively disordered.”12 

Now then, on page 46, this is precisely what Father Martin and others propose: “Some bishops have already called for the church to set aside the phrase ‘objectively disordered’ when it comes to describing the homosexual inclination.”13 

And, he continues, “Our sexuality, in a sense, touches everything we do, including the way that we love…. So to call a person’s sexuality ‘objectively disordered’ is to tell that person that all of his or her love, even the most chaste, is disordered. That seems unnecessarily cruel.”14 

 

In Freud’s Shadow

Here one sees Sigmund Freud’s shadow, with his theory that man is dominated and led by his sexual instinct: “Our sexuality, in a sense, touches everything we do…

However, what defines the human person is not sexuality but rationality and behavior according to the divine laws expressed in human nature. Instincts, including that of procreation, are only part of human nature, not its directive element. Unlike animals, which act blindly, impelled by instincts, thanks to his intellect and free will, man can dominate and guide his impulses, especially when he asks for the help of grace. God never refuses to listen to a “contrite and humbled heart” (Ps. 50:19).

Human love, though it has a procreative sexual dimension within marriage, is not rooted in that dimension but in a spiritual and affective affinity.

 

Homosexuality: a “Gift” for the Church?

Once one accepts the premise that God made homosexuals with their unnatural deviation and that this gives them a “redeeming” aspect, the logical conclusion is that homosexuals and “transgenders” should be seen as privileged members of the Church.

Father Martin explains: “LGBT Catholics bring unique gifts to the church—both as individuals and as a community. These gifts build up the church in special ways, as St. Paul wrote when he compared the People of God to a human body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).”15 

In the referenced passage, the Apostle is referring to the Mystical Body of Christ—the Church. It is a holy Body, to which those who have lost sanctifying grace through mortal sin do not belong. Although they continue being members of the Church, they are dead and dry branches that if they do not convert will be cut off and cast into the everlasting fire of Hell (cf. John 15:6).

Father Martin claims that homosexuals and so-called transgenders “build up the church” imply that he considers them to be in the state of grace and therefore living members of the Body of Christ. Moreover, he says that “these gifts” (homosexuality, lesbianism, “transgenderism”) “build up the church in special ways.” In other words, theirs is a privileged contribution, and the Church would somehow be less developed without their sins against nature!

 

Two Cardinals, a Bishop, and… Sister Gramick

Unfortunately, Father Martin’s deplorable efforts to change Church perennial moral teaching on the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts find wide acceptance among fellow Jesuits and in sectors of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy. In fact, two American bishops who were recently made cardinals by Pope Francis—Kevin Cardinal Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and Joseph Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark—along with Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego and Sister Jeannine Gramick wrote rave reviews for Father Martin’s book.

 

Who Is the True Friend?

Father Martin presents himself as a great friend of homosexuals and “transgenders.” In reality, he is their enemy, for instead of seeking to remove them from the sin in which they objectively find themselves—as would be required by his priestly duty and by Christian charity—he works to convince them that they are in the friendship of God.Defending a Higher Law: Why We Must Resist Same Sex “Marriage” and the Homosexual Movement

True friendship and charity toward those who are in sin or in danger of falling into sin consist in helping them to give up vice or overcome temptation.

While everything must be done to help sinners, this cannot include helping them sin or remain in vice. Given human frailty, a sinner deserves pity and compassion. However, vice and sin themsleves must be excluded from this compassion, since sin can never be the proper object of compassion. When a misguided pity leads to supplying the sinner with the means of remaining attached to his vice, this assistance, be it material or moral, actually helps to keep the sinner chained to his evil ways.

Such action helps vice, not the person. Despite good intentions, the action is harmful. True compassion leads a sinner away from vice and back to virtue.

In short, according to the famous expression attributed to Saint Augustine, we “hate the sin but love the sinner.”16 And to love the sinner, as the same Doctor of the Church explains, is wishing for him the best we can possibly desire for ourselves, namely, “that he may love God with a perfect affection.”17 

In his book, Father Martin distorts the clear principles of Christian morality and natural law concerning the sins that led to God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He confuses Catholics and reinforces in unnatural vice those who unfortunately have fallen into it. His book is, therefore, unacceptable.

 


 

Taking a Principled not a Personal Stand

As practicing Catholics, we are filled with compassion and pray for those who struggle against violent temptation to sin, be it toward homosexual sin or otherwise.

We are conscious of the enormous difference between these individuals who struggle with their weaknesses and strive to overcome them and others who transform their sin into a reason for pride, and try to impose their lifestyle on society as a whole, in flagrant opposition to traditional Christian morality and natural law. However, we pray for them too.

According to the expression attributed to Saint Augustine, we “hate the sin but love the sinner.” And to love the sinner, as the same Doctor of the Church explains, is to wish for him the best we can possibly desire for ourselves, namely, “that he may love God with a perfect affection.” (St. Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49, www.newadvent.org/fathers/1401.htm)

  


Footnotes
1. 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. In quotes from this book, all emphases are mine. [back to text]
2. Cf. Ibid., 19, 45. [back to text]
3. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358.[back to text]
4. Martin, Building a Bridge, 5.[back to text]
5.Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Notification Regarding Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19990531_gramick-nugent-notification_en.html.[back to text]
6. “USCCB President Clarifies Status of New Ways Ministry,” Feb. 12, 2010, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.usccb.org/news/2010/10-028.cfm[back to text]
7. Catholic World News, “US bishops reaffirm: New Ways Ministry not a Catholic organization,” CatholicCulture.org, Mar. 17, 2011, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=9636[back to text]
8. Cf. Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo, “A Catholic case for same-sex marriage,” The Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2012, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-catholic-case-for-same-sex-marriage/2012/02/13/gIQAl4cwDR_story.html?utm_term=.345c1b1f424d; “Catholics Participate in Prayer Service and Demonstration at Supreme Court,” Mar. 27, 2013, New Ways Ministry, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.newwaysministry.org/2013/03/27/catholics-participate-in-prayer-service-and-demonstration-at-supreme-court/[back to text]
9. Cf. Ashley McKinless, “Father James Martin: L.G.B.T. Catholics have been treated like dirt. We can do better,” America, Jun. 16, 2017, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/06/16/father-james-martin-lgbt-catholics-have-been-treated-dirt-we-can-do-better. (“I’m going to canonize Sr. Jeannine Gramick.” See 32:14 of the audio recording.) [back to text]
10. Op. cit. p. 145. [back to text]
11. Cf. Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “‘Rehabilitation’ of Liberation Theology?” At https://www.tfp.org/rehabilitation-of-liberation-theology/; Idem, Liberation Theology, a KGB Invention? That Is Way Too Simple…, https://www.tfp.org/liberation-theology-a-kgb-invention-that-is-way-too-simple/, accessed Jan. 23, 2018. [back to text]
12. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm, accessed Jan. 23, 2018. [back to text]
13. Martin, Building a Bridge, 46. This wish seems to have been already fulfilled, at least in the Catechism’s English edition published by An Image Book – Doubleday, April 1995. It omits the phrase. Cf. page 625, No. 2358. [back to text]
14. Ibid., 46-47. [back to text]
15. Ibid., 24. [back to text]
16. Cf. Saint Augustine, Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Ps. 119, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, www.ccel.org/schaff/npnf108.ii.CXIX.xv.html[back to text]
17. Saint Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49, accessed Jan. 22, 2018, www.newadvent.org/fathers/1401.htm[back to text]


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 22, 2019

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except t...

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November 22

 

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except through thee;
no one who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God;
no one who can be delivered from dangers but through thee, O Virgin Mother;
no one who obtains mercy but through thee, O Filled-With-All-Grace!”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Cecilia

Skeptical of his new wife and her religion, Valerian demande...

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St. Cecilia

Cecilia was a devout Christian maiden of noble Roman birth who lived during the early part of the third century. At a very young age, she secretly dedicated herself to God, resolving to remain a virgin to her death. She fasted and prayed often, and wore a coarse shift under her clothes as a perpetual penance.

Although she had consecrated her body to the Lord, Cecilia’s father wished her to marry. She obeyed and married Valerian, the man her father had chosen for her. However, on the night they were married, Cecilia said to her new husband, “I have a secret to tell you. You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me. If you touch me in the way of marriage, he will be angry and you will suffer; but if you respect my maidenhood he will love you as he loves me.”

Skeptical of his new wife and her religion, Valerian demanded to be shown the angel. “If you believe in the living and one true God and receive the water of baptism,” Cecilia told him, “then you shall see the angel.” The young man agreed, and sought out Bishop Urban who baptized him. Upon his return, Valerian found Cecilia in prayer with a crown of roses and lilies on her head. He saw that beside her stood an angel, who immediately crowned him as well.

Soon after, Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius, found them praying in the chapel. He saw the crowns of flowers on their heads and the angel standing near and he, too, converted. From that time, the two brothers devoted themselves to the work of God. They were arrested and after refusing to pay homage to false idols, were tortured and killed.

Knowing that the two were married, officials visited Cecilia and tried to persuade her to worship the false idols. Instead, her holiness converted the officials who came to her door, and she was instead ordered to appear before Almachius, the provost of Rome. The provost entreated her to denounce Christ, and when she refused, condemned her to death. They barred her in her home and fed her furnace seven times the normal amount, an act that would have suffocated any other. However, after a day and a night spent in the fatal conditions, Cecilia still lived.

Almachius then sent a soldier to her house to behead her. The executioner struck her three times on the neck and still could not smite her head from her body. By law he could not do so a fourth time and he left her to die. During the three days of her agony, Cecilia gave all that she had to the poor, continually preached the faith, and all those who were converted by her words and example she sent to Pope Urban to be baptized.
St. Urban and his deacons buried her among the bishops in the catacomb of St. Callixtus along the Apian Way. As she had requested, her house was transformed into a church by the Holy Pontiff and it has remained in the service of the Church until this day.

St. Cecilia is known as the patroness of musicians because it is said that during the three days in which she lay dying, the crowd that had gathered could hear angels singing.

Second Photo by: Claude Valette

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WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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