Abp. Chaput responds to Fr. Martin regarding “LGBTQ” Catholics, discusses synod

“Listening is important, and we do need to listen to young people.  All people, no matter what their age, long to be heard.  But St. Paul didn’t decide to ‘listen’ for a year when he got to Corinth.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney leave the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct 3. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Yesterday, at the Synod on Young People in Rome, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia gave two interventions that included specific criticisms of the Instrumentum Laboris – the working document for the synod — and some observations about the “moral adolescence” found in developed countries. Archbishop Chaput graciously responded this morning to some questions sent by Catholic World Report about his interventions and the Synod.

CWR: In response to your remarks about “LGBT Catholics,” Fr. James Martin, S.J., argued, via Twitter, that because we refer to “Latino Catholics” and “Young Adult Catholics”, we shouldn’t object to other descriptives. How do you respond?

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput: That kind of equivalence is both easy and wrong.

There’s nothing morally problematic about being Irish or Latino, or elderly or young.  These are external descriptors.  They vary, and they can affect how we see the world and act in it, but they don’t fundamentally shape who the human person is.

There’s also nothing morally problematic about having same-sex or opposite-sex inclinations.  But sex is a unique sort of category.  Issues of sexual desire, and especially behavior, go to the heart of human identity.  They involve the purpose of the body, what we mean by “human nature,” the complementary wholeness of the human species, and the transmission of life.  So they have big implications for the truth or falsehood of Scripture and Catholic belief.

The Church needs to be very careful to avoid fracturing human identity according to our sexual appetites.  “LGBTQ” Catholics implies a special moral category in a determinist way that “African” Catholics does not.

CWR: You criticized a sort of “flattery” being used at times in the working document, referring to a sense in which youth are viewed as having some sort of special abilities or insights not available to others. Do you sense this sort of approach so far in the synod itself? Is there, in your view, a better approach in addressing youth?

Archbishop Chaput: Most of the Synod Fathers are sensible men who understand the strengths and limitations that go with being young. One of the strengths is a keen sense of smell for obsequious praise.  Young people see it as insincere or weak.  I think the instrumentum as it stands is strong on analysis and listening.  But it’s too dense and ambiguous to feed or inspire anyone.  It lacks zeal.

Listening is important, and we do need to listen to young people.  All people, no matter what their age, long to be heard.  But St. Paul didn’t decide to “listen” for a year when he got to CorinthHis faith wouldn’t let him wait.  “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel”; that was the fire in his heart.  He had the kind of absolute confidence that led him to preach Jesus Christ from day one—a Christ both insisting on radical conversion, but liberating the soul precisely because of that conversion—whether people accepted or rejected him.

We need to listen to the world in order to convert it at its roots; not to be converted or compromised by it.  That clarity and urgency of Christian mission are missing from the current text.  Our discussions in the synod will fail unless we recover them.

CWR: It’s only two days in, but how would you assess the synod so far? What are some themes or points of focus coming to the fore?

Archbishop Chaput: I had a number of bishops from India, Africa, Peru, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere thank me for  flagging the problems involved with language like “LGBTQ Catholics.”  There’s a general sense so far that the instrumentum needs to be more explicitly evangelical.  But we’re still early in the discussions, and a lot of the delegates are just getting their bearings.

CWR: How do you respond to Cardinal Baldisseri’s questioning your critique of the synod working document [published by First Things last month]? He said that you should have voiced these concerns during the drafting process, and implied that your public criticism lacks “loyalty and honesty.”

Archbishop Chaput: What someone says in a moment of annoyance, and what he does in person, can be two different things. Cardinal Baldisseri greeted me very warmly.  The Holy Father has been relaxed and very welcoming.  So people looking for conflict will probably be disappointed.

The instrumentum’s drafting process does need improvement.  I’m glad the theological critiques that preceded the synod pushed that into public discussion.  The synod’s permanent council members received the final draft of the instrumentum laboris very late, and only in Italian.  That needs to change.  Even if we had received the text in English, there was no time to adequately study the content and suggest changes.  Cardinal Baldisseri surely knows that in retrospect.  I hope synod leadership will respond with a better process in the future.

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  1. Archbishop Chaput is an intellectual giant when compared to Baldisseri and Martin.
    Martin is a sexually confused tool of the pope’s inner circle.
    Basdisserii is a calculating, clever prelate who published the I/L in Italian only and distributed it late in the preparations for deliberate reasons. This is the m/o of the Francis Vatican.
    Chaput understands this all too well.

  2. Archbishop Chaput says: “There’s also nothing morally problematic about having same-sex or opposite-sex inclinations.” I’m not quite sure I understand him here. I could see if he used the word “sinful” here rather than problematic in terms of inclinations. However, since same-sex inclinations are objectively disordered, this would seem to deem them at least “problematic”. I suggest that the flattery of the youth has more to do with making them out to be wiser than they are; that is, just wise enough to be pronounced reliable for the progressive change the Vatican desires. Lastly, if it is not obvious to the Synod fathers that LGBT should be utterly left out of documents and discussion, they need to become aware that there are many more letters (of the alphabet) to this “lobby” which are like tentacles ever multiplying and seeking to wrap themselves around every aspect of society, including the Church of God.

  3. Martin uses the same lame argument over and over, ‘God made me who I am – Love me for who I am”. To me ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ is false label akin to saying I am a ‘Bestiality Catholic’, ‘I am a Pedophile Catholic’ or ‘I am a Serial Killer Catholic’. Yes, love the sinner but not the sin, and God will forgive all sins if you confess the sin and are truly repentant; John 8:11 -“Go and sin no more”.

    • I just received in the mail an adverstisement soliciting me to subscribe to America magazine, and proudly offering a card with “A Prayer for When I Feel Rejected,” by Father James Martin from his book Building a Bridge. A more simpleminded and puerile prayer I’ve seldom seen, and then of course there’s the opening line, “Loving God, you made me who I am” (the clear implication being that I am wonderful just as I am). If one compares it to, say, the Litany of Humility, it would make one laugh if it weren’t so utterly tragic that such pap is what is being offered to us these days.

  4. The only question that Archbishop Chaput should be considering at this time is this:

    What would Dietrich Bonhoeffer do?

    The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children…..D.B.

    Why is our Philadelphia RCC leader spending OUR resources and money in Harrisburg blocking clergy sexual abuse victims from having their voices heard in the PA court system? There are hundreds of abusive priests in grand jury reports on ALL RCC dioceses across Pennsylvania.

    Make no mistake, Archbishop, this child, victim and family centered legislation WILL become law, whether it is now, in the Spring 2019 legislative session, but certainly while you are still here in Philadelphia and before your retirement.

    • No, there are hundreds of ALLEGED abusive priests. A Grand Jury presentment does not declare guilt or innocence, although our Atty. General (who apparently doesn’t know the Penna. Constitution protects one’s good name) sure would like the citizens of the Commonwealth to think so. And who, pray tell, is not having his or her voice heard at this stage of things? If you mean scaling back the statute of limitations, well…you won’t see that in Legislative ’19. Or likely ever. The GOP leadership in Harrisburg hypothetically agreed to do so, confronting the Democrats about suspending the SOL if doctors, clinicians and school districts would be included with the clergy. We know how the Statist Dems reacted to that one.

  5. I have read and listened to this man for over a year and he has the ability to cut through the fine sounding words and get to the heart of the matter. I continue to pray for men like himself!

  6. Archbishop Chaput needs to declare “Father” Martin an invalid priest. He should have spoken more forcefully when James Martin spoke in Philadelphia.

  7. Fr. Martin is a pinhead, Archbishop Chaput is an intellectual giant.

    But – Fr.Martin is SO pinheaded that he is not smart enough to realize his pinheadedness, which means he will think of himself as being 1) morally righteous enough and 2) intellectual enough to have a coherent conversation on a profound subject with the Archbishop.


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