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Joseph Sciambra

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Fr. James Martin retweets complaint priests can’t bless ‘committed gay couples’

Joseph Sciambra
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February 14, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – On February 6, 2018, James Martin retweeted to his official Twitter account a comment made by Michael O’Loughlin, a National Correspondent for “America Magazine.” Responding to initial reports that Cardinal Reinhard Marx, during an interview in Germany, spoke approvingly of same-sex marriage “blessings,” O’Loughlin wrote:

News that a German cardinal said he could envision a Catholic blessing for some same-sex couples, leading to predictable outrage, made me recall a priest once telling me his frustration at being able to bless all sorts of things—but not committed gay couples.

O’Loughlin included the following text with the above tweet:

The annual tradition of blessing herbs on the feast of the Assumption.

 

Michael O’Loughlin is a Catholic journalist who reports primarily on issues concerning homosexuality and the LGBT community; he has written extensively for “America,” “The Huffington Post,” and the gay periodical “The Advocate.” In 2015, he published his book “The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters.” During a private Papal audience, O’Loughlin, with Thomas Rosica, media attaché of the Holy See, presented a copy of the book to Pope Francis. On July 10, 2017, the Archdiocese of Chicago launched their Theology on Tap series with a discussion featuring Rosica and O’Loughlin hosted by Cardinal Blase Cupich.

Here are some excerpts from his published articles:

What is the antidote to this institutional downward spiral, where the church is viewed not as the defender of the weak and vulnerable, but as the enforcer of an antiquated morality? The hope lies in the truth that relationships hold unparalleled power in helping individuals find self-acceptance through God’s radically unconditional love. (6/22/11)

The codes I referenced above, which label gay women and men “intrinsically disordered” but then demand they be treated with dignity and respected is confusing… (12/10/11)

As with the public as a whole, the more visible gay and lesbian people are in families, schools, and the workplace, the more likely Catholics are to support laws that they see as extending civil rights to a group of historically marginalized people. But is there something about Catholicism in particular that would lead to acceptance of same-sex marriage, even as some church leaders rail against it? I think the sacramental nature of our faith, the belief that the world is good and infused with God’s grace, and the understanding of family and community as pivotal to living out the Gospel might compel Catholics to reject the call to take up a fight against same-sex marriage. (5/14/12)

Pope Benedict has called gay marriage a threat to the future of humanity, and the Catholic Church in the US remains a powerful force against same-sex marriage. Its ordained leaders are entrenched and buoyed by a faction of vocal conservatives. But this is not the case for ordinary Catholics, the everyday women and men who love their gay sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, friends and coworkers. (6/8/12)

Benedict [Pope Benedict XVI] seemed unable to grasp that gay women and men long for the same things as their heterosexual peers: loving relationships, lives of dignity, and respect from their fellow human beings. He seemed particularly fixated on the bizarre notion that same-sex marriage would somehow herald the downfall of civilization and he said things that no pastor should ever preach, much less the pope… (2/11/13)

As pastor to the world’s Catholics, and a moral leader to many others, might Francis bring his pragmatic views on LGBT issues to the global stage? He is poised, if he so desires, to make huge advances for the church in how it treats its gay and lesbian members, all without engaging in the divisive doctrinal battles that would accompany an adjustment of church teaching on sexuality… (3/19/13)

As a Catholic, who happens to work in the church, and who writes extensively about the church, and who is also gay, I am fairly desensitized to the veiled bigotry employed by so many Catholic leaders. Sure, the cardinals and bishops who seem obsessed with issues of homosexuality usually begin their statements recalling the Catechism of the Catholic Church that reminds us all people are to be treated with dignity. But in the next breath, their words turn to sin, disorder, unnaturalness, and general judgment and condemnation. Under Pope Benedict XVI, combined with rapid advancements for LGBT people in the West, the church’s attitude and language toward gay people reached a nadir. (9/20/13)

Here’s how the bishops could change the public’s perception of them as being “anti-gay.”…drop the opposition to marriage equality. It’s here to stay, and young Catholics support it at overwhelming numbers. To be against marriage equality is equated with bigotry and being out of the mainstream. To lose a generation of Catholics on this issue is shortsighted and will hinder social justice efforts to alleviate poverty, prevent war and strengthen the common good. This will be a tragedy that will take many years to overcome. (12/10/13)

When Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Argentine government was pushing a same-sex marriage law. The Catholic bishops there were vehemently opposed to it and they planned to campaign against the measure. behind the scenes, however, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, as Francis was then known, floated a compromise. Perhaps the bishops could support civil unions for same-sex couples and avoid a nasty fight over marriage. Cynics say it was a ploy to limit the rights of gay couples, to keep marriage exclusively for heterosexuals. Given that Francis has proven himself a shrewd tactician and skilled political operative, it’s more likely that Francis understood the need for mercy. (9/23/15)

In a 2014 article, O’Loughlin claimed that Pope Benedict XVI created a “hostile climate” against the LGBT community: “when Pope Benedict was routinely reminding the world of the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay rights…The church’s fear and rejection of LGBT people was palpable then, with few exceptions.” In the same article, he also accused some in the Catholic hierarchy of being complicit in the persecution of homosexuals: “bishops, not a centralized Roman bureaucracy, are the men funding campaigns against same-sex marriage in the United States, and they’re the ones supporting laws that imprison gays in Africa — or do them even worse harm.”

Martin and O’Loughlin are long-time associates at the Jesuit-run “America Magazine,” where Martin currently serves as “editor-at-large.”

Back in 2013, O’Loughlin supported Martin’s early statements concerning Catholic LGBT outreach:

“The Jesuit Jim Martin has asked why Catholic bishops are seemingly unable to make an unqualified statement of God’s love for LGBT people. He wrote:

“‘I would love to see a Catholic leader make an unabashedly positive statement about gays and lesbian Catholics, without including a critique.’”

In 2014, O’Loughlin wrote a report for the gay periodical “The Advocate,” about an article from “America” written by Martin in which, according to O’Loughlin: “A prominent Catholic priest challenges the church on its attitude toward LGBT people.”

As recently as January 27, 2018, O’Loughlin spoke out against those who have concerns over Martin’s problematic statements with regards to homosexuality.

About O’Loughlin’s book “The Tweetable Pope,” Martin wrote:

“O’Loughlin is one of the most talented young Catholic writers today. His theological training and journalistic skills make him an astute observer of the church. His new book, examining Pope Francis’s daily Tweets from a spiritual standpoint, is sure to be a valuable addition to reflections on this extraordinary pope.”

In 2016, Joe Muth, the pastor of St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which hosts a radical pro-gay ministry called LEAD, was in the audience during a controversial address given by James Martin, S.J., to New Ways Ministry; Martin had just received the group’s annual “Bridge Building Award.”

During the question and answer period, Muth told Martin that two young men contacted him and asked: “What time does the gay and lesbian Pre-Cana classes meet?” Muth then asked Martin: “Would you like to collaborate in developing a Pre-Cana course for gay couples?”

Martin responded with:

What does your bishop say? … I’m not trying to be flip with these things, but one works within the confines of what the ordinary will allow you to do, basically. So, you’re asking me what I would do, I mean, I’d have to ask my Provincial for something like that, because that’s really, sort of, pushing the boundaries…

Reprinted with permission from Joseph Sciambra.

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