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VATICAN CITY, September 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Pope Francis met privately today with a U.S. Jesuit priest who is one of the top promoters for the normalization of homosexual behavior within the Catholic Church.
Fr. James Martin, S.J., tweeted about his meeting with the pope.
“Dear friends: Today Pope Francis received me for a private 30-minute audience in the Apostolic Palace, where I shared with him the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide,” the pro-homosexual activist wrote.
“I was so grateful to meet with this wonderful pastor,” he continued. “The only other person in the room during our meeting was his translator.”
One of the highlights of my life. I felt encouraged, consoled and inspired by the Holy Father today. And his time with me, in the middle of a busy day and a busy life, seems a clear sign of his deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide. ([email protected]). pic.twitter.com/1BeaiVh0Q4
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) September 30, 2019
According to the Jesuit-run America magazine, of which Martin is “editor-at-large,” this was Martin’s third encounter with Pope Francis, but their first substantial conversation.
The private audience took place for over 30 minutes in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace, and America magazine interpreted the meeting as a “highly significant public statement of support and encouragement” for the American Jesuit. Martin himself saw it as “a sign of the Holy Father’s care for L.G.B.T. people.”
Again according to America, Martin had met Pope Francis twice before: once in 2016 briefly after Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pontiff lives, and again last week when the pontiff greeted members of the plenary assembly of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communications. Martin was appointed as a consultant to this department in 2017. It was during this greeting that the first Jesuit pope invited the American Jesuit to the late-morning meeting in the papal library.
America quoted an unnamed Vatican source who said that Pope Francis had read Martin’s pro-LGBT book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. Apparently the pontiff is also aware that Martin has received some strong criticism for this book and for his LGBT activism.
Martin would not comment on the substance of their conversation except to say that both he and the pontiff had both laughed “several times.”
Fr. Martin has been criticized by high-ranking churchmen and respected Catholic lay academics (here and here) for dissenting from Catholic sexual teaching. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has called Fr. Martin “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality.” Cardinal Raymond Burke has called the celebrity priest’s teaching “not coherent with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.”
Earlier this month, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia released a statement noting that Fr. Martin’s “statements and activities” have caused confusion.
“A pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing,” Chaput wrote. “Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims.”
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois quickly issued a statement supporting Chaput, saying that aspects of Martin’s teachings are “deeply scandalous,” and his “messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church.”
Bishop Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee has also opposed some of Martin’s statements.
The news of the meeting between the American and the Argentinian Jesuit inspired a fresh wave of criticism from those who believe Martin has, through his activism, misled Christians who experience same-sex attractions, their families, and their friends. Some of that criticism, however, was directed at Pope Francis.
“The Pope’s meeting with Fr James Martin today is intended to taunt the US conservatives that he demonises,” said the UK Spectator’s Damian Thompson on Twitter.
“Egged on by Spadaro et al, he is now flirting with conspiracy theories. He’s recklessly partisan and ill-informed. Ordinary American Catholics are the victims.”
OnePeterFive’s Steve Skojec noted that people can no longer credibly believe that the pontiff does not know about Martin’s mission.
“Any pretense that Francis doesn't know what Martin is about just went out the window,” he tweeted.
While Martin has repeated several times that his writings and teachings do not contradict Church doctrines, his public utterances, however, suggest otherwise.
Martin contradicted Church teaching at Fordham University in 2017 when he said, “I have a hard time imagining how even the most traditionalist, homophobic, closed-minded Catholic cannot look at my friend [in a same-sex “marriage”] and say, ‘That is a loving act, and that is a form of love that I don’t understand but that I have to reverence.’”
Also in 2017, Martin wrote on Facebook that it was “a scandal” that a diocese had stipulated that a little boy who wished to attend catechism classes could not do so while presenting as female.
“The parish and the diocese need to unblock the path between their child and Jesus Christ,” Martin wrote.
In August of that year, after a lecture at Villanova University, Martin told a young Catholic man who is sexually active with another man that he hoped one day he would be able to kiss his “partner” in church.
“I hope in ten years you will be able to kiss your partner [in church] or, you know, soon to be your husband.”
During the lecture, Martin suggested that Church teaching on homosexuality isn’t “authoritative” because it hasn’t been “received” by people who experience same-sex attractions. He also suggested that refusing to accept invitations to same-sex weddings is worse than refusing to accept an invitation to the Jewish wedding of a convert to Judaism.
Catholics refusing to attend same-sex “weddings” are “saying is it’s worse to be a Christian and gay than it is to reject Jesus and be straight,” he claimed.
Martin also insinuated that people who are opposed to same-sex “marriage” are usually motivated by contempt for people who experience same-sex attractions.
“I often find that the people who do oppose those things [same-sex 'marriage'] are very homophobic and that is easily discerned, I mean, just by the way they talk about LGBT people and the language they use and the snottiness they have,” he said.
The priest also suggested that refusing to go to a same-sex “wedding” ceremony was on par with refusing to celebrate the marriage of an interracial couple.
The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, while underscoring that men and women with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” must be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” declares that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” The Church teaches that such acts are “contrary to the natural law,” “close the sexual act to the gift of life,” and “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.”
“Under no circumstances can they be approved,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Despite popular confusion on the point, the Church does not say that people who struggle with same-sex attraction are themselves disordered, but that their inclination is “objectively disordered.” The Church calls such people to chastity and encourages them to “gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
An international apostolate for people with same-sex attractions who wish to remain chaste was founded by a Catholic priest named Fr. John Harvey in 1980. Courage International, which is often under fire from LGBT activists, is approved by the Catholic Church.