Fr. James Martin has taken to Twitter again to whine and to distort the truth in his usual subtle way. This time he is lamenting the request made by Fr. Scott Nolan in Grand Rapids that Judge Smolenski refrain from presenting herself for Communion.
Below are Fr. Martin’s tweets, with my replies.
James Martin: As with all these sad cases, the question is: Why are only married LGBT people being singled out? Is Communion denied to all parishioners who are not following church teachings? That is, married couples using birth control or IVF? Or young people engaging in pre-marital sex?
DL: LGBT people are not being “singled out” for not following Church teachings. Ms. Smolenski was not asked to refrain from receiving Communion because she is a lesbian. She is not even asked to refrain from receiving Communion for being in a lesbian relationship. She has been told to not receive Communion because she “married” another woman. This is not simply a matter of “not following church teachings.” By attempting a marriage with a woman Ms. Smolenski publicly, formally and irremediably denied the Catholic teaching about marriage.
Marriage is a Catholic sacrament. It is one of the means of grace. For it to be a valid sacrament it requires proper form, minister, and matter. The proper matter is the conjugal act. The proper ministers are the man and woman marrying one another. Therefore to attempt a same-sex marriage is not simply “not following church teachings” it is rejecting Church teachings and doing so formally and publicly. When a Catholic attempts a same-sex marriage they are rejecting the Catholic teaching about the sacraments.
That Fr. Martin does not admit this or teach this indicates either that he is very poorly educated (but he is a Jesuit, so that can’t be the case) or he is deliberately misleading God’s people.
Attempting to marry a person of the same sex is not at the same level of commitment as a couple using birth control or IVF or someone committing fornication. All these sins are private sins and can be repented of. In a same-sex marriage the person is not just “not following church teaching.” They are rejecting Church teaching. They are saying by their words and actions, “Gay sex is not a sin. It is something to be celebrated. It is something God blesses. The Catholic Church is wrong and I am publicly, formally declaring that I reject the Catholic Church’s teaching.”
In other words it is not breaking the rules; it is rejecting the rules and in rejecting the rules rejecting the authority that sets those rules.
This distinction is something any eighth grade confirmation student could understand.
James Martin: The argument is made that same-sex marriage is a “public” sin.” But there are many other examples of public acts well known among parish communities. Is Communion denied to someone who is cruel or abusive to a spouse, who doesn’t forgive coworkers, who holds a grudge for years?
DL: Does Fr. Martin hold the common view that a wedding is simply a lovely ceremony in which two people celebrate their love? This is the typical secular, sentimentalized understanding of weddings. It’s a lovely time to have a party and celebrate the love of the happy couple. Yes, maybe, but not for Catholics. For Catholics a wedding is the start of a marriage and it is far, for more than that. The Catholic understanding of marriage is interwoven with the union between Christ and his Church, and it is therefore a sacrament and of vital importance to the faith.
A same-sex marriage is not only a public sin and denial of the Catholic faith. It is also a formal sin. In other words, it has a legal component and a contractual, formal component. It is deliberate, premeditated and done with full knowledge and consent. A same-sex marriage is also, by its nature, irremediable. In other words, the intention of the person contracting a same-sex marriage is that this position they are taking is for life. That’s what marriage is–a commitment for life. The equivalent with holding a grudge, not forgiving co workers, or being abusive to a spouse would be for the cruel, abusive person to hire a lawyer and a public meeting room, invite his friends and family, sign a contract and take a public oath that he believes beating his wife is a good thing and holding a grudge against co workers is a noble and worthy action and that he solemnly vows to abuse his wife and hold grudges and seek revenge for all the rest of his days.
James Martin: Moreover, why is it only a “public” act that bars someone from receiving Communion? If pastors chose to, they could easily ask married couples if they are using birth control, or ask young people if they are engaging in pre-marital sex. Of course, they choose not to.
DL: See above. The equivalent would be for the married couple using birth control or the young couple fornicating to hire a public space, sign a contract, and declare to all that they believe contraception and fornication to be wonderful, blessings from God and that they are from henceforth always and everywhere committed to contraception and fornication. Come now. Let’s not be absurd.
Once again, Fr. Martin is either stupid or badly educated (and we know this is not true because he is an exceedingly clever and well-educated person) or he is deliberately obfuscating the truth, distorting the Catholic faith and misleading people.
James Martin: The answer is often: “Of course. Because it would be unethical to investigate and pry.” Yet in many of LGBT cases, the news of the person’s marriage comes from scouring Facebook pages, from someone else reporting them, or from a priest grilling friends and family members.
DL: Why would the gay person wish to be married unless they also wished for their choice to be publicly known and celebrated? Do Catholic priests have the time and inclination to spy on people? Really? I’ve never heard of such a thing. On the contrary, most Catholic priests do everything they can to avoid conflicts like the one Fr. Nolan found himself in. Do people tattle tale? But surely a Catholic who attempts a same-sex marriage knows they are going against Church teaching. Why should they be surprised or upset when fellow Catholics are scandalized and Catholic priests and bishops affirm what the same sex couple already knew was true?
The priest is engaged on a witch hunt against the poor LGBTQ victims? I doubt it. On the other hand, perhaps the priest’s hand is forced because the LGBT person and their fellow activists have thrown their behaviors into the face of the Catholic clergy challenging them in an aggressive manner, threatening their positions, and pushing to have them removed–as is the case with Judge Smolenski who, it is reported, turned up at St. Stephen’s Church with a group of fellow activists wearing rainbow badges and that was what prompted Fr. Nolan to ask her to desist.
James Martin: Overall, the only area that seems to matter in these cases is sexual morality, and the only sexual morality that seems to matter is that of the LGBT person. It is a clear targeting of a specific group of people on a specific question of morality.
(This post originally appeared on Fr. Longenecker’s blog and is reposted here, with minor changes, with his kind permission.)
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