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Fr. James Martin.James Martin / Twitter

(LifeSiteNews) – Father James Martin’s recent comments on marriage were just the latest to cause scandal, disrespect Church doctrine, and anger the faithful. The resulting controversy in these situations is bad for obvious reasons but also often overlooks just how much people like Martin are hurting those they claim to help.

He and others seem to excuse their scandalous behavior by suggesting that it builds a “bridge” to those experiencing same-sex attraction (SSA) in and outside the Church. In reality, Martin’s and others’ actions – such as affirming same-sex romance – have created a toxic brew of confusion and betrayal that leave an already struggling population with more to agonize over.

While some may report feeling positively about his messaging, it’s clear that his and others’ language harms same-sex-attracted Catholics like myself. Garrett Johnson, who attends the Courage apostolate for SSA Catholics, indicated as much when he told the National Catholic Register that comments like Martin’s undermined his certainty in Church teaching – that solid ground by which we live our lives and pursue eternal life. “It’s like the foundation underneath you keeps getting yanked out from under you,” he said in the article published Friday.

As with other disordered inclinations, same-sex attraction is a burden that would ideally be lightened by the grace that comes through encouraging shepherds. That’s why it’s been so helpful for me to see leaders like Bishops Joseph Strickland and Thomas Tobin reaffirm Church teaching amid secular advances during “Pride Month.”

By contrast, when I see clergy brandish the rainbow flag or affirm same-sex relationships, I feel betrayed. I wonder why, if someone supports my conversion, would they embrace symbols of everything evil I turned away from in my life?

There has been considerable debate over whether the phrases “intrinsically disordered” and “same-sex attraction” are appropriate or helpful. For what it’s worth, I’m grateful for the Church’s incisive language which cuts through the cloud of doubts I experience while struggling with temptations presented by our “born this way” world. The Church’s clarity is a beacon of light for those lost in the relativistic non-truth that muddies rational discussion of the issue.

As a side note, I try not to include my personal experiences while writing on other topics. But the politics of personal grievance and emotion have apparently entered Church discussions via these new-fangled conceptions of sexuality. Many people no longer want to assess arguments about sexuality based on their logic or authoritative origins. Instead, religious authorities are assumed to be callously indifferent while pleas of alleged sexual minorities receive extra credence. In using my personal experience, I’m not in favor of further entrenching that mindset but I also don’t want other “LGBT” Catholics to distort the truth.

Affirming the modern invention of an “LGBT” identity may temporarily assuage some SSA Catholics. But it’s ultimately a pseudo-assurance that pushes us further into the trappings of postmodern politics and away from our ultimate source of healing in the Church.

Rather than insisting on an other-worldly identity and the ontological separation that comes with conversion, some have encouraged adherence to worldly lenses for viewing ourselves. By conflating identity with sinful inclination, advocates like Martin are effectively telling them the Church opposes who they are rather than what they feel and do.

This is a topic, by the way, that seems to have been particularly prone to confusion about terms and definitions. Responsible clergy should avoid confusing both new and prospective Catholics with that sort of language. It’s unclear why we should expect Protestants or those steeped in secularism to interpret comments like Martin’s to mean anything other than an embrace of a false identity and the politicization that comes with it.

That’s why it’s ironic (and harmful) to see people like Martin accuse conservative clergy of pursuing political narratives rather than earnestly defending what is plainly true in doctrine. Such was the case with a relatively battle over education in the Archdiocese of Omaha. Last year, two Creighton University professors – Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler – criticized the archdiocese’s rather straightforward policy on sexuality and gender in diocesan schools.

Citing specific policy language, the article accused the archdiocese of vagueness that could invite harmful decisions in practice. The professors’ article also contained several unsubstantiated allegations of uncharitable rhetoric and deviations from Church teaching. For example, they claimed that the archdiocese failed “miserably” at extending respect, hospitality, and compassion to “struggling to discern their sexual identities.” They go on to cite the left-wing Trevor Project in admonishing the archdiocese’s purported use of “stigmatizing language.” What exactly are they referring to? It’s unclear.

Similar criticism arose last March when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified that the Church cannot “bless” same-sex unions. In doing so, it reiterated that God blesses sinful man but “does not and cannot bless sin.” That was the second to last paragraph in the CDF’s responsum. The preceding 10 paragraphs don’t use the words “intrinsically disordered,” a term that’s often criticized by the Catholic left, nor do they condemn those with same-sex attraction (SSA). Instead, it took pains to explain Catholic teaching and offer compassion for those with SSA.

Nevertheless, Salzman called the responsum “the last straw for a lot of people” and an “incredibly irresponsible and hurtful” act. Martin posted a series of tweets about upset Catholics apostatizing and the wrongheadedness of those who say “good riddance.” So-called LGBT Catholics, he said, were “almost universally hurt, angry and demoralized.”

Have we actually reached a point in which the Church’s body for determining doctrine isn’t expected to describe homosexual activity as a grave sin – or even one that cries out to Heaven? Conservatives have been far tamer in their language than the way canonized saints have addressed sodomy.

How exactly could the CDF have made this statement any more diplomatic? By not recognizing the sinfulness of same-sex unions? This defies common sense as the Church should provide a moral basis for refusing to bless unions the world calls righteous. Otherwise, they’re likely to encounter comparisons to actual marriages and questions like “what’s the difference?”

The implicit browbeating by liberal Catholics has arguably been a source of scandal. And it needs to stop. That includes things like Martin publicly rebuffing the Catholic League and other groups who are trying to defend authentic marriage.