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Fr. James Martin, SJ

VATICAN CITY, October 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― An American celebrity priest continued his tour of the Vatican by meeting with the Prefect and Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. 

Fr. James Martin, S.J., 58, principally known for his LGBT activism, publicized his October 1 meeting with Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi and Fr. Friedrich Bechina in a series of messages on Twitter. 

Martin indicated that he had a “dialogue” with these officials about the Congregation for Catholic Education’s recent document addressing gender ideology. 

“Dear friends: I am happy to say, with their permission, that I met with Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, the prefect of the Congregation for Education, and Fr. Friedrich Bechina, undersecretary, for a dialogue about the Congregation's document ‘Male and Female He Created Them’,” Martin wrote. 

“During our meeting I read aloud letters from a Sister who ministers to transgender individuals, from a family with LGBT children, and a transgender person himself. Again, with their permission, I can share that they spoke about the context and purpose of their document which was focused on Catholic schools,” Martin continued.  

“His Eminence (Cardinal Versaldi) expressed sorrow if people thought the Congregation was accusing people of being ideologically distorted, and they wish to share their care for transgender people and want to continue dialogue to reflect on their experiences.”

Martin underscored that he had his interlocutors’ permission to publish these details but said he would keep the rest of their meeting private. 

“I was happy to bring LGBT voices to this warm meeting and very grateful for their openness to dialogue,” he concluded. 

The full title of the Congregation’s statement is “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” Published on February 2, 2019, the document is a gentle exploration of new and erroneous theories concerning human sexuality, particularly the divorce between physical reality and so-called “gender identity.” 

Whereas the document agrees with gender theorists that bullying and undue discrimination against any person is wrong, it critiques gender theorists’  battle against nature, their “dualist anthropology” that pits the human will against the human body, and “denies the difference as well as natural reciprocity that exists between men and women.” 

Quoting Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, the document states that gender ideology: 

“… inspires educational programmes and legislative trends that promote ideas of personal identity and affective intimacy that make a radical break with the actual biological difference between male and female. Human identity is consigned to the individual’s choice, which can also change in time. These ideas are the expression of a widespread way of thinking and acting in today’s culture that confuses ‘genuine freedom with the idea that each individual can act arbitrarily as if there were no truths, values and principles to provide guidance, and everything were possible and permissible’ (AL, 34).”

“Man and Woman He Created Them” also draws upon the writings of St. John Paul II, whose Love and Responsibility and other writings on human sexuality have sustained two generations of Catholics in the aftermath of the Sexual Revolution. It cites Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ and other writings, addresses by Benedict XVI, documents from the Second Vatican Council and statements from both the Congregation for Catholic Education and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  

Martin did not indicate that he had cited anything but the three personal letters he had in his possession.

This was the second high-profile Vatican visit for America magazine’s celebrated “editor-in-chief.” Earlier this week, Martin publicized his private half-hour meeting with Pope Francis in the papal library, stressing that the two men had, save for a translator, been alone.  

Although Martin’s religious order, the Society of Jesus, denied this meeting was political or strategic or had “a hidden agenda,” the Jesuit-run America magazine swiftly suggested that the meeting was a “highly significant public statement of support and encouragement” for the American priest. It found a coded meaning also in the fact that the pontiff had met Martin in the library where he normally greets heads of state. 

“By choosing to meet him in this place, Pope Francis was making a public statement,” America stressed. “In some ways, the meeting was the message.”

Martin himself took the audience “as a sign of the Holy Father’s care for LGBT people.”

The author’s interaction with Catholics who experience same-sex attractions, though celebrated, arguably does not fill a gap in the Church’s ministry. Since 1980, a faithful, orthodox ministry called “Courage,” founded by an unassuming priest named John F. Harvey (1918-2010), has served Catholics who experience same-sex attractions and their families. Now called Courage International, the apostolate prefers not to define human persons by their sexual inclinations and therefore does not use the English-language initialism LGBT. It encourages its members to find happiness through greater closeness to Christ and in chaste friendships.