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Fr. James Martin in a March 7, 2018 America Magazine Youtube video titled ‘Spiritual Insights for LGBT Catholics.’ America Magazine / Youtube
John Beaumont

Opinion,

It’s wrong for pro-LGBT Fr. James Martin to make gay reference to John Henry Newman

John Beaumont

October 17, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- Once again, Fr. James Martin has sounded off about his LGBTQ obsession. Does this man ever talk about anything else, for instance the Mass, prayer, Our Blessed Lady? If he does, then I seem never to be around at the time! 

The topic this time is another of those overworked issues, namely the question of whether St. John Henry Newman was a homosexual, a gay icon no less. Needless to say, Fr. Martin is again just re-tweeting what he has said on many occasions. And, of course, this is part of an agenda supporting the promotion of homosexuality in the Church.

In addition, there seems to be never a word from him about the true nature of Catholic teaching on this matter. What makes it all so much more dangerous at this time is the fact that Fr. Martin has never been disciplined for the clearly deliberate ambiguity of his statements and was even granted an audience by Pope Francis in September with no clarifying statement being released afterward.

At the center of this whole matter is Newman’s relationship with his great friend, and fellow Oratorian, Fr. Ambrose St. John, in whose grave Newman was buried. This matter was first brought to general attention by John Cornwell in his book Newman’s Unquiet Grave (2009). This is in truth a scurrilous work full of errors and clearly malicious in intent. Thankfully, the whole issue of the burial is dealt with by Fr. Ian Ker in an afterword to the recent (2009) reprint of his John Henry Newman: A Biography (pp.746-750). This book is of course recognized as the definitive account of Newman’s life.

Fr. Ker lays the essential groundwork for the truth by saying this:

In an age that has almost lost the concept of affectionate friendship untouched by sexual attraction, such speculation (that there might have been some kind of homosexual relationship between the two friends) was no doubt inevitable.

Then, Fr. Ker goes on to make the following vital points:

  • The assumption that the desire to be buried in the same grave as someone else may, if not must, indicate some sort of sexual attraction would have greatly astonished previous generations. The practice was quite common. Another famous Christian, C.S. Lewis, was buried in the same grave as his brother, Warnie. This was in accordance with both brothers’ wishes.

  • For Newman, Ambrose St. John, a fellow priest of the Birmingham Oratory, was the equivalent of a brother: for 30 years he had been his most faithful and loyal supporter through all his trials and tribulations as a Catholic.

  • Newman feared that as he was a cardinal the Church authorities might wish to erect a tomb away from the privacy of the community cemetery.

  • By being buried in the same grave as St. John, between the graves of Joseph Gordon and Edward Caswall, he would be among the three men who had been the life and center of the Oratory. Nothing was more natural than that Newman, the founder of the Birmingham Oratory, should wish to lie among them.

  • Newman refers to the “deep imagination” that took possession of him in 1816 that “it would be the will of God” that he “should lead a single life,” which he saw as a call to celibacy.

  • There is not a shred of evidence that Newman was a homosexual. On the contrary, Newman readily acknowledged that from time to time he continued to feel the natural attraction to marriage that any heterosexual man would feel. Whilst willingly embracing celibacy, he expresses the deep pain of sacrificing the love of a woman in marriage.

Fr. Ker concludes that the Oratory and the Church authorities would never have permitted such a joint burial if they had had the slightest suspicion about what must have seemed to them a totally innocent, not to say praiseworthy gesture.

Newman had plenty of critics, not to say enemies, in his time; yet not one of them, not one newspaper, not one casual observer ever dreamed of reading a significance into an act of loving friendship, and indeed of humility, such as was left to the 20th century to read into it.

In conclusion, then, this is not a time for tawdry falsehood, but one for rejoicing by all faithful Catholics, and the use by them of intercessory prayer to a great new saint of the universal Church.

John Beaumont is a legal consultant and freelance writer on Catholic issues. He is the author of Roads to Rome; A Guide to Notable Converts from Britain and Ireland from the Reformation to the Present Day (2010, St. Augustine’s Press); and The Mississippi Flows Into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American  Converts to the Catholic Church (2014) published by Fidelity Press.

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