Chaput: Fr. James Martin’s message causes confusion about Church doctrine

“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues,” says the Archbishop of Philadelphia, “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….”

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput smiles during an address at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, March 27, 2019. (CNS photo/courtesy Pontifical College Josephinum)

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 19, 2019 / 07:46 am (CNA).- After Fr. James Martin, SJ, spoke at a Philadelphia university, the Archbishop of Philadelphia urged caution about the priest’s message, especially regarding the possibility that Catholic teaching on sexuality might change.

“Father Martin has sought in a dedicated way to accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.  Many of his efforts have been laudable, and we need to join him in stressing the dignity of persons in such situations,” Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a Sept. 19 column published on his archdiocesan website.

“At the same time, 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.  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,” Chaput added.

Martin is the author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” and speaks frequently on issues pertaining to homosexuality and Catholicism. He spoke Sept. 17 at Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s University.

Chaput’s column raised his concern that “Father Martin – no doubt unintentionally — inspires hope that the Church’s teachings on human sexuality can be changed.”

“In his book, ‘Building A Bridge,’ he writes: ‘For a teaching to be really authoritative it is expected that it will be received by the people of God . . . From what I can tell, in the LGBT community, the teaching that LGBT people must be celibate their entire lives . . . has not been received.’ One might easily, and falsely, infer from such language that the Church’s teaching on sexual intimacy lacks binding authority for same-sex attracted Catholics,” Chaput wrote.

The archbishop credited Martin for the priest’s insistence that he has never directly challenged Catholic teaching.

“But what is implied or omitted often speaks as loudly as what is actually stated, and in the current climate, incomplete truths do, in fact, present a challenge to faithful Catholic belief. When people hear that ‘the Church welcomes gay people’ or needs to be more ‘inclusive and welcoming’ without also hearing the conditions of an authentically Christian life set for all persons by Jesus Christ and his Church — namely, living a life of chastity — they can easily misunderstand the nature of Christian conversion and discipleship,” Chaput noted.

“For this reason, Catholic teaching always requires more than polite affirmation or pro forma agreement, particularly from those who comment publicly on matters of doctrine. Faithful Catholics who are same-sex attracted need support and encouragement in the virtue of chastity. They deserve to hear – as all people do – the truth about human sexuality spoken clearly and confidently. Anything less lacks both mercy and justice.”

Chaput’s column addressed other concerns about Martin’s work.

Among those concerns is Martin’s collaboration with New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group that has been criticized by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for “ambiguities and errors” in its teaching. The organization gave Martin its 2016 Bridge Building Award.

The archbishop noted that “Father Martin suggests that same-sex attracted people and those with gender dysphoria should be labeled according to their attraction and dysphoria, calling for use of the phrase “LGBT Catholic” in Church documents and language. But while the Church does teach that the body is integral to human identity, our sexual appetites do not define who we are.”

“If we are primarily defined by our sexual attractions, then, in order to be fulfilled, it would follow that we must identify with and act on our attractions. Anything calling for the denial or restraint of our sexual appetites would logically amount to repression and even cruelty. This is the opposite of the Gospel’s clear teaching that our identity is found in Jesus Christ, created in the image and likeness of God and called to be sons and daughters of God,” the archbishop said.

The archbishop also lamented that Martin “suggests that Catholic teaching on same-sex attraction as ‘objectively disordered’ (for example, in CCC 2358) is cruel and should be modified.”

That suggestion “misrepresents Catholic belief,” Chaput said.

“It’s worth recalling here that the Catechism also describes lust, extra-marital relations, and contracepted sex (2351), masturbation (2352), and even non-sexual sins such as lying and calumny (1753), as intrinsically ‘disordered.’ The suggestion that the wisdom of the Church, rooted in the Word of God and centuries of human experience, is somehow cruel or misguided does grave harm to her mission. Families have been destroyed because of this misperception, and Father Martin regrettably contributes ambiguity to issues that demand a liberating biblical clarity,” the archbishop added.

For his part, Martin tweeted a response to Chaput’s column Thursday morning. The tweets took the form of a letter to Chaput.

“I think my main response is that it’s difficult to respond to critiques that I am ‘implying’ things, when I am assiduous in my writings and talks about not challenging church teaching,” Martin wrote.

Martin noted that the lecture he offered at St. Joseph’s University “is the same lecture that I presented at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin last year, the text of which was vetted and approved beforehand by the Vatican.”

Acknowleding that same-sex relations and same-sex marriage are impermissable and immoral, Martin tweeted that “LGBT Catholics have heard this repeatedly. Indeed, often that is the only thing that they hear from their church.”

“What I am trying to do instead is encourage Catholics to see LGBT people as more than just sexual beings, to see them in their totality, much as Jesus saw people on the margins, people who were also seen as ‘other’ in his time,” the priest wrote.

During his World Meeting of Families lecture, which Martin said was the same lecture he gave in Philadelphia this week, the priest criticized “homophobic pastors” and said that “LGBT people bring special gifts to the Church, like any group.”

Chaput’s column, which explained that he was unable to prevent Martin from appearing at a Catholic college overseen by a religious order, also criticized “bitter personal attacks” against the priest from other Catholics.

“As I’ve said previously, such attacks are inexcusable and unChristian.”

Nevertheless, the archbishop said, he had a responsibility to raise objections to some aspects of Martin’s message.

“Supporters of Father Martin’s efforts will note, correctly, that several Church leaders have endorsed his work,” Chaput concluded.

“Those Churchmen are responsible for their words — as I am for mine, as pastor of the Church in Philadelphia.  And specifically in that role as pastor, I want to extend the CDF’s caution to all the faithful of the Church in Philadelphia, regarding the ambiguity about same-sex related issues found throughout the statements and activities of Father James Martin.”

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 5941 Articles
Catholic News Agency (


  1. The confusion could be eliminated by a corrective from Martin’s immediate superior, his provincial superior (who could be moved to act by the local ordinary), or by Marxist Arturo Sosa who is Superior General of the Jesuits.
    It could be eliminated by the Jesuit Pope, Francis.
    No corrective?
    Silence can only be interpreted as approbation. Pastoral responsibility abandoned is pastoral malpractice. In this case it is, in essence, a demonstration of practical apostasy.
    There is a moment when denial and self-deception are no longer able to be maintained. We are not six years beyond that point?
    But who am I to judge?
    Despite his good effort, and those of a singularly few other members of the episcopate, the Archbishop beats a dead horse. He has been consigned to the dust bin of orthodoxy by those who deem themselves merciful, graced with mystic insights which transcend the pedestrian character of the perennial Magisterium.
    Afraid of schism when it is already staring you in the face? Not the time to fear, it is the time to act.

    • Thank you, James, for your well thought and well written statement. I agree with your sentiments. Having said that, I must add that I give thanks to the Trinity for Archbishop Chaput who is one of the few in his position to demonstrate faithfulness to Christ and His Church with admirable courage and eloquence. May he continue to fight the good fight even if, as JRR Tolkien wrote, we are “fighting the long defeat.”

  2. I am afraid this is not an appropriate response from an archbishop. I agree with Michael Voris when he states that Chaput should have forbidden clergy and faithful to attend any presentation of Martin and sanction any pastor in his diocese that gave berth to this man. Chaput’s concern for souls under his care is beyond luke warm. He is positively lifethreateningly anemic in his useless efforts and totally unworthy of wearing the ring of the martyrs. He should be laicized.

  3. We read that “Martin is the author of ‘Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,’ and speaks frequently on issues pertaining to homosexuality and Catholicism.”

    We now can wonder, again, about the ravaged John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family. The history of Western “social science”—-the engulfing (?) add-on—-had something to say about (Satanic?) double-speak and how this deception played in the affected literature of, say Thomas Mann and Andre Gide:

    “The problem was to discover an ethic broad enough to embrace ways of behavior which society condemned—and in the process to reconcile [!] things that were customarily treated as RADICAL OPPOSITES [Gide’s active homosexuality].”

    “He [Gide] tried to lead a life that would be moral despite [!] and even because of [!] its apparent immorality. And in the process he suggested a definition of human nature AS BROAD AND AS TROUBLING AS ANY THAT THE WESTERN WORLD HAD EVER KNOWN. He sought to prove that one could be an ‘immoralist’ and [!] yet live with dignity and responsibility and human sympathy [….] Mann and others, too, demonstrated an unshocked [!] recognition of the ‘immoral’ as a source of vitality and creation.” (Hughes, Consciousness and Society, 1958, caps added).

    Polyglot theologian Martin now fondles the meaning of “respect, compassion and sensitivity,” not unlike Gide’s double-speak appeal to “dignity, and responsibility and human sympathy.”

    What other “social science” double-speak/spectrum awaits the subverted John Paul II Institute?

  4. I thank His Lordship for the clarification and correction. If Fr. Martin is actually not in the camp of the so-called LGBTs as well as women-ordination advocates let him learn how to put his words well such that his words would not be lending credit to what the Church condemns thereby undermining the teaching of the Church. It’s very unfortunate that some of the members of the hierarchy are antagonistic to the Church under the pretext of being inclusive and welcoming to those who oppose the teachings of the Church. Even, unfortunately, Cardinal Tobin condemned the wordings of the CCC calling it “unfortunate” just because in the CCC the Church called a spade a spade and hit the nail on the head. Why should the Church change her teachings just to make those who deliberately choose to go contrary to it comfortable. Is that not harming them rather than helping them?
    Now I must say that homosexuality is an intrinsically disordered act and is always sinful but homosexual ATTRACTION itself is not. Someone who experiences homosexual attraction does not sin by that mere experience just as someone who experiences heterosexual attraction does not sin by that mere experience. Sin comes in only when CONSENT and ACTION are given to the experience. So let LGBTs remove consent and action in their attraction and the Church will never censure them again.

  5. It is increasingly difficult to comprehend why so much time, energy and attention is being paid to a tiny percentage of people, the. LGBTQ etc. It is disproportionate. No doubt, motives are many and some complex, but the puzzle remains, at least for some of us. On the other hand, the Catechism is clear on homosexual acts. However, we do live an era where people, if they work at overturning something they oppose long and hard enough, they eventually realize their goal.

  6. ““What I am trying to do instead is encourage Catholics to see LGBT people as more than just sexual beings, to see them in their totality, ”

    Fine, then quit calling them “LGBT people.” Do you call those tempted to steal “thief people?”

    • Good point, Leslie! However, the LGBT WANT to be identified as such. Sex is such a large portion of their very existence that they feel they MUST identify themselves as such. The 2014 book by Robert R. Reilly entitled “Making Gay Okay” is an extremely good source for discovering the Gay agenda in America. I would highly recommend it!

  7. Father Martin represents the weeds that have taken root in the Church. I would hazard a guess that the LGBT march into the sacramental vestibules of the Church would have also occurred under the stewardship of any presiding Vicar. It’s a movement that is propelled by a militant humanism that rejects Church authority and it’s impulse is to impose its will and to subjugate dissent. The passion Martin exhibits in propagating a corrupted false mercy is indicative how emboldened & determined his branch of “merciful neophytes” have become to establish their “new ways” within the Church. I believe Arch Chaput has eloquently articulated the Church’s teaching in the tradition of the Christian spirit & we need to support him.

  8. How interesting: Martin says that for a teaching, in effect, to be valid, it “must be received by the People of God.” He then goes on to invalidate a teaching on the basis of its rejection by a quite small minority of said “People,” whose behavior by and large contravenes it. Clever non sequiter, to be sure: murderers might reject the teaching that murder is immoral, but that hardly invalidates the teaching. I suspect the term “Jesuitical” was coined with this sort of thing in mind.

  9. Bishop Chaput’s response is a classic example of talking out of both sides of one’s mouth. In an attempt to not appear to condemn Fr. Martin’s defense of the LGBT issue, (and appear conciliatory) and in an attempt to appear orthodox in the defending the Catholic Church teachings on the LGBT question, he has done neither! How duplicitous, and a waste of time.

    In St. Matthew’s Gospel (Sermon on the Mount), we hear our Lord admonishing the crowd against the duplicity of the Scribes and Pharisees who outwardly appear to be conforming to the letter of the law, but inwardly are not in conformity with the spirit and principle of the law – and gives them a simple formula in confronting an issue: “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no! Anything beyond that is of the Evil One!” Bishop Chaput appears to have said NOTHING.

    In an attempt to appease the LGBT community, he appears to be conciliaroty to them. “Not enough! You should have outrightly condemned those radicals!” And in an attempt to appear to be defending Catholic doctrine, this camp would have said “Not enough. You should have stood firmly and denounced LGBT Catholics, and defended Catholic doctrine!”

    For man of his caliber, he should have thought twice before he opened his mouth, for “anything beyond a yes, or a no, is of the Evil One” – or said the Divine Teacher!

  10. I have a list of sins. Shall I add letters of each sin after my name and then start a ministry of inclusion for each sin?
    Sounds stupid just writing this.

  11. Fr. Martin is causing more confusion to Catholics. They certainly
    have enough to cope with. He certainly needs correction for sure.

  12. If the only words that “LGBT Catholics have heard repeatedly” is that same-sex relations and marriage are “impermissible and immoral,” are they attending the same mass liturgy that I am? What other words should they hear? Perhaps, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” or “forgive” or “take eat.” Many gracious words abound that should be put into practice.

  13. James Martin should be laicized. His near pornographic obsession with sodomy is not only contrary to Church teaching, it is annoying. I think homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, but affirmed in a lifestyle that is disordered. One can sympathize with an addict struggling with his addiction, but not with the pusher telling him it is a go thing and encouraging him to go out and buy more drugs.

  14. Father Martin is the brazen leader inside the Church of the dubious, out-of-touch-with-reality, extremely twisted and intellectualized compromise of our Holy Faith, Morals and 2,000 years Catholic Teaching. He uses double-speak-ambiguous-compromise-speech to stir up sentimentalism, feelings, emotionalism and narcissism, clouding the facts and the clear thinking and acceptance of the Truth. sadly, Bishop Chaput, like other Bishops, does not do enough to expose and contradict this soul-destroying charade.

    Father Martin’s carefully manipulated language always uses the forced hybrid syncretism of two very opposing and never ever conciliable positions, like inclusion of all and exclusion (of Catholic Truth), acceptance of all and rejection (of Catholic Truth), love of all and hate (of Catholic Truth), tolerance of all and intolerance (of Catholic Truth), truth and lies, life and murder, holiness and evil. Radical Activist Homosexuality has become a determined, organized, brazen enemy to the Truth and Catholic Truth is the Most Holy Guardian of True Love, with the false love preached today being the Ultimate Evil Poison.

    St. John The Apostle described God as Love (1 John 4:7-9) but God Incarnate Jesus Christ did NOT describe Himself as love but as “The way, The Truth and The Life (John 14:6). Why? Because without Truth, there’s no real love, no real way and no real life, all that remains is just death. Father Martin may think he preaches love but he, and all those like him, are just preaching death.

  15. James Martin LFBTQSJ is the pied piper of sodomy and should never been admitted to seminary let alone ordained. Archbishop Chaput should have issued a much sterner warning and condemnation prior to the heretic speaking, yet again, in his Archdiocese, not after.

  16. ‘Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity’
    Visited my local bank, and the women’s bathroom with multiple stalls was replaced with a sign that said “gender neutral” allowing men to use the same bathroom as women. One of the male tellers (a gay male) made a point to use only the traditional women’s bathroom one of the other tellers told me. I am still waiting for LGBT persons to show “respect” towards the rights of modesty towards women and little girls. I am still waiting for LGBT to show “compassion and sensitivity” to women and female children biology who are being stripped of their dignity by leud behavior in women’s bathrooms. The “respect” for church’s teaching is missing. The “compassion” for those who have been damaged by having sex forced on them is missing, especially sodomy. The “sensitivity” to the rights of parents to raise their children to respect traditional families according to church’s teaching is missing.

    Seems “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” work both ways Mr. Martin, and is not as the LGBT agenda wants it to be, namely as excuse to persecute devote Christians. LGBT claim victimhood, but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing ready to devour the innocent and brainwashed.

    • “LGBT claim victimhood” – there it is in a nutshell. Without victimhood they are nothing, they have nothing – take that away and they fade away.

  17. I know that we are all supposed to be gratified by Archbishop Chaput’s mild rebuke of Fr. Martin, but as Christopher Ferrara writes in another one of his trenchant columns, it is a day late and a dollar short. Bishop Chaput grants far too much to and condemns far too little of the work of this rampaging dissident. And Chaput is no doubt one of the best of the hierarchy today.

  18. Exodus 20:14 – pretty clear, adultery is a sin defined by a sexual union outside of marriage between a man and a woman. The very fact that one identifies themselves as LGBT indicates that they want to be defined by their sinful sexual practices, They are fond of claiming that they are Gay Christians, Lesbian Christians, etc.; However I do not hear of people proudly proclaiming they are Bestiality Christians, Porno-Masturbation Christians much less Serial Killer Christians. And, back to Thomas Aquinas – the logic Natural Law, does it make sense that the male sexual organ was made to be inserted into the exit of the digestive system? Or the use of a protruding object in regards to the female reproduction system? Where is the dignity in all of this folly? There is only one kind of Christian, sinners who need Jesus to be reconciled back to God and sin no more.

  19. I can understand someone who takes Fr. Martin seriously getting confused at some point, but for those of use who don’t take him seriously there is no confusion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.