Editor’s note: This article was updated on February 7, 2023, to include comments from Garret Johnson of Courage International.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Jesuit Father James Martin has received further criticism for a series of tweets that he released last month in defense of the so-called “marriage” between Biden Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his “husband” Chasten.
Father Philip Bochanski, president of Courage International, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics with same-sex attraction live in accordance with Catholic teaching, called Martin’s tweets “irresponsible” in comments made to the National Catholic Register.
Martin’s claim that Buttigieg is “married” is “irresponsible, especially for a priest or bishop who has taken an oath to uphold Church teachings” and affirms “something that the Church says that we mustn’t say, which is that homosexual unions are the same or even remotely analogous to marriage.”
Bochanski cited a 2003 document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) which stated that “in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.”
“[A]s we’ve seen in the whole question of laws and court decisions around abortion, most people, especially young people, assume that what is legal is moral,” Bochanski continued.
According to Bochanski, for Martin to say that “according to the laws of the United States, these two people are married” and nothing further means that someone could conclude that, as same-sex “marriage” is legal, “it must be good or at least neutral, morally speaking.”
Dominican Father Thomas Petri, president of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. also criticized Martin’s tweets.
Speaking to the Register, Petri said “Even though it is the case that in our country same-sex relationships are legally given the name ‘marriage,’ as Catholics, but also as right-thinking individuals, we understand that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.”
“You don’t have to be a believer to accept that,” Petri added. “All sorts of nonbelievers who are rational and have thought through the issue can understand marriage is between one man and one woman. It’s the institution that provides children to society and provides for the upbringing of those children.”
Petri also noted that homosexuality could be recognized as morally wrong independent of faith, noting that the nature of marriage could be known by reason as well as by faith.
Petri further stressed the pastoral danger of Martin’s tweets, stating that the claim that Buttigieg is “legally married” “suggests then that the Church’s understanding of marriage is one understanding among many, and therefore has equal weight with the rest.”
Both priests noted that same-sex attracted people should be treated with compassion, a view which Bochanski cites from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “We ought to be able to deliver that message with a great deal of compassion, patience and gentleness,” Bochanski said, adding “it’s something that we ought to speak truthfully, [as] we owe the truth all the more to people who we care a great deal about.”
“There’s nothing pastoral or charitable about lying to people,” Petri said, noting “it’s recognizing the truth of my situation before God that gives me access to his mercy and his grace.”
Lay criticism of Martin’s tweet
Martin also faced criticism from Garrett Johnson, a member of Courage International. Johnson, also speaking to the Register, noted that Martin’s statements could make it difficult for same-sex attracted people to live in obedience to the Church, saying “It’s like the foundation underneath you keeps getting yanked out from under you.”
Johnson, who lives with same-sex attraction himself, added that Catholics in public life should announce what the Church teaches in order to contrast a culture of permissiveness. “This is what the Church teaches; and, look, there are all these people who are living it who have good lives.”
“The truth brings joy, and then we need more people in the Church in positions of power to believe that,” Johnson added.
In comments to LifeSiteNews, Johnson noted that while the teachings of the Church regarding sexual ethics “are clear in and of themselves,” that something yet needs to be done to bring this clarity to the faithful.
“The murkiness comes from many religious and clergy within the Church who speak in words that are easily misunderstood if they are not outright contradicting the Church’s teachings. The truth of our identity as sons and daughters of God who are not defined by our feelings and desires needs to be reiterated, as does the definition of marriage,” Johnson stated, adding that “this is true charity.”
“What Fr. Martin and many others in the Church call charity and compassion is false charity and compassion that leaves us who experience same-sex attraction stuck in shallow, superficial happiness.”
Speaking on the necessity of correcting misconceptions regarding the nature of marriage and sexual relations, Johnson argued that “the Holy Father should speak clearly and firmly on these issues,” recognizing that “some will leave the Church and others will turn against us.”
“We are at the point we are at because many in the Church have fallen for the lies of the world that to love someone is to be permissive and tell them what they want to hear, even if it is not good for them,” he said.
To speak the truth “in love is pastoral,” Johnson argued, adding that “this makes us like Christ, who said if we follow Him, the world will hate us because it hated Him. He also let those who weren’t comfortable with His teaching on the Eucharist walk away, knowing they’d come back when they realized that by leaving, they’d left truth and love behind.”
“I think that outreach can be done in the gay community while still maintaining the loving truth, and we in the Courage apostolate are proof of that if those in leadership positions choose to see and hear us,” he concluded.
Last month, Martin reacted to a tweet by the Catholic League that said Buttigieg’s “marriage” to Chasten was a “legal fiction.”
His tweets received criticism for being in contradiction to the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, and one priest, Fr. Francisco Jose Delgado of the Archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, called Martin a “prophet of Satan” for the tweets.
Fr. Martin is notorious for his open and heretical promotion of homosexual lifestyles and his celebration of homosexuality as a great “gift” for the Church. As LifeSiteNews’ Michael Haynes has previously reported, Martin has a longstanding record of promoting LGBT ideology in dissent from Catholic teaching and is described as “arguably the most prominent activist” in the Church for LGBT issues.
As Haynes states, “Among his most notorious actions, Martin has promoted an image drawn from a series of blasphemous, homoerotic works, showing Christ as a homosexual, promoted same-sex civil unions, and has described viewing God as male as ‘damaging.’”
Petri did not respond to LifeSite’s request for comment.