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Answering Fr. James Martin’s distortions about the lesbian judge and Communion

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.

A screenshot of Fr. James Martin, S.J., giving a March 2018 a presentation titled "Spiritual Insights for LGBT Catholics". (YouTube)

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.

DL: Nonsense.

(This post originally appeared on Fr. Longenecker’s blog and is reposted here, with minor changes, with his kind permission.)


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About Fr. Dwight Longenecker 5 Articles
Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is the author of several books, including More Christianity: Finding the Fullness of the Faith and The Mystery of the Magi. Read Fr Longenecker's blog, listen to his podcasts, and browse his books at dwightlongenecker.com.

26 Comments

    • Fr. James Martin needs to be removed.

      The last line of the following quote from Saint Pope Pius X’s “Our Apostolic Mandate” is apropos:

      “Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. Whilst He called to Himself in order to comfort them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. Whilst He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them. He was as strong as he was gentle. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing, and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body.”

  1. “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.”

    And cooperating in the sin, and promoting evil. Why are his superiors not making him stop it?

  2. An entertaining play on words, for Martin to say that those who contract gay “marriage” are being “singled” out. The issue is all about singles promoting a parody of marriage as if this supplies some kind of parity.

    Even before the matter of Church teaching about the sacraments, the over-the-top expectation for society to endorse an oxymoron (gay “marriage”) contradicts the baked-in natural law. What is it, exactly, that gays do that the rest of society is supposed to suddenly endorse at the expense of “marriage” as instinctively and morally understood for millennia?

    It’s surprising that Hollywood has not been sued for the script in the movie, Gladiator (2000), where the gladiator owner dresses down (so to speak) the salesman of two camels who now won’t mate. Something is objectively wrong: “You sold me queer camels!” Restitution comes and the movie proceeds without interruption–and without later lawsuits. (A different story line surely would have unfolded if the animal and slave markets of Rome had sidelined in wedding cakes and flower arrangements.)

    Those with homosexual inclinations deserve respect as persons, just like everyone else (not singled out), but are not well served by the oily mind-bending of James Martin with regard to the pro-creative/unitive nature (shall we say “orientation”) of marriage.

  3. Why ? You ask Leslie.
    The same reason that Chic Fil Le stopped giving to the Salvation Army.
    Most of our Bishops are spineless or agree with Jimmy Martin.
    They are scared to death of the Militant Lavendar Mafia.

  4. Scandal.

    Sin is sin. But the homosexual community and all of its subdivisions consistently and purposely put a public face on its actionable sin.

    That is the most relevant answer to Martin.

    For those of a fragile faith who may decide instead of what Scripture has made clear, that which is false is preferred because of a corrupt compassion and mercy that a priest defines.

  5. It’s great to read Fr L, of whom Socrates would be proud. A good article with a few minor bumps: “Fr. Martin is either stupid or badly educated…” You can be smart and deeply in-love with yourself, and say things that Martin says. There are notable exceptions, but the Jesuits as a group are notoriously vain. Jesuits of the current generation are also dangerously ill-educated: possessing many advanced degrees without wisdom. The modern Jesuit is a throwback to the Sophists, who were drunk with their influence over the young, and who walked in the halls of power, and loved to hear themselves talk. Yes, the Jesuits as a group are poorly educated. The unwise and the vain always join forces in priests who abandoned ascesis.

  6. “This distinction is something any eighth grade conformation student could understand.” That pretty well sums it up, and yet we have a highly educated Jesuit Priest completely distorting it.

    And there’s the rub.

  7. As a Catholic Priest and pastor, I offer two observations:

    (1) The problem is that Fr. Martin has succumb to decades of indoctrination masquerading as education. He has essentially become an “educated imbecile.” I don’t mean that as an insult. It is a plain and simple fact. He no doubt is well-read. But he has come to understand information and facts through an ideological prism rather than through the right use of FAITH and REASON! Essentially, “he has eyes, but cannot see; ears but cannot hear.”

    (2) Fr. Martin argues that LGBTQ persons who marry are being singled out. That is patently a false claim on two fronts at least. First, pro-abortion politicians and judges are identified among those “who ought not present themselves for Holy Communion.” That is because of the public nature of their sin. It is right and just to deny one the Sacrament if he or she should fail to abstain on his or her own accord. In fact, the recent Biden incident highlights this. The priest in that case acted as per the directives of the particular law of his diocese (which essentially is the universal law applied at the local level). Second, divorced and remarried heterosexuals are in basically the same canonical status as those in a same sex, civil union. I don’t, however, think that the “public” nature of marriage elevates the situation to be on par with that of notorious politicians and judges. Many can be in this situation under the radar, despite the public nature of marriage and it’s sacramentality as well. While priest are not police, they still have to deal with the cards they are dealt. No priest I know wakes up in the morning pondering how many souls he can refuse Sacraments to today. We all strive to truly care for souls, even with tough love when warranted. Fr. Martin seems content to leave souls wallowing in their sin.

    • Getting past whether or not such politicians and judges should present themselves for Communion, the main question is: should they be denied Communion if they DO present themselves?

      It can be said that no one is entirely wrong, and Fr. Martin might have something of a point. There are a great many others for whom Canon 915 is not being enforced, despite the fact that it certainly seems to apply. For years, people like Biden and Nancy Pelosi have been largely protected from the most basic canonical penalties.

      That said… the right response is obviously not to extend this negligence to the those who attempt “gay marriage”, but to start enforcing it more evenly where ever it applies.

      Somehow, I don’t think this is what Fr. Martin has in mind.

      • Universalism is the new philosophy of modernists like Fr M. And it is and effective weapon in the evil one’s arsenal insofar as it at least an invitation to the unforgivable sin, sin against the Holy Spirit, ie, final impenitence.

    • Regarding the Martin-type mindset of the “educated imbecile”, somewhere St. Augustine proposes the inclusive [!] term “fantastica fornicatio”—-the prostitution of the mind to its own fancies.

      • There is really only one fallacy of logic. All errors are variations of the fallacy of the undistributed middle, which boils down to false equivalencies, a refusal to distinguish differences between things that are being compared favorably. We don’t commit errors of logic by accident. We don’t lie to ourselves by accident. We lie to ourselves to explain away our sins.

  8. How can he have a meeting with Pope Francis and still be allowed to teach principles against the Catholic Faith that he claims to serve?

  9. Valid questions may not address what prevents resolution. Fr Longenecker a straight shooter hit the bullseye for refusing communion to Ms Smolenski. Because she’s ‘married’ to a woman. Behind or better above Fr Martin SJ’s completely free rheined promotion of Church acceptance of homosexuality is indeed his immediate superior, his Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa SJ, and finally with certainty Pope Francis SJ. Why Pope Francis SJ? Diane Montagna Rome correspondent LifeSite just essayed a suspected Jesuit Coup d’etat of the Catholic Church [Just thinking of the appointments I can no longer laugh at the seeming preposterous]. Today Feast of one of their greatest Saint Francis Xavier SJ who yearned to return to Paris from his India mission to exhort priest academics to drop their books and grab their stoles to save countless souls in the missions. It’s abundantly clear Jesuits increasingly stuck to their books and theological exploration rather than the missions. Catholicism is confronted with a pseudo religious ideology initiated by the original St Gallen Group commander general Cardinal Carlo Martini Milan the inventor of Synodality to catch up with the World, Augustine’s City of Man. Our Jesuit Pontiff is not at all interested in conversion [trophyism] whether it be practicing homosexuals, adulterers, abortionists [they have been personally praised] shamans, idolaters, or for that matter the town drunk. The Jesuit New Commandment is that we be ecologically converted. Spinning our wheels asking why [although astute analyses are always interesting] will keep us where they want us for now. Resist [with due comportment]!

  10. Its pretty simple…public act against Church teaching = public response by Church.

    I also don’t understand people like Fr. Martin. Why doesn’t he just become Episcopalian? He could have everything he wants tomorrow and at the same time show respect for the faith of Roman Catholics who believe in Church teaching. Instead, he stays, works very hard to undermine Church teaching while at the same time marginalizing and mocking faithful Catholics (including Catholics with SSA who follow Church teaching…I think he called them “non-integrated”). This says to me that this is about his ego and personal issues.

    I wish our bishops would deal with him, instead they don’t and thus foster confusion among the faithful. I remember a couple of years ago I gently suggested that Fr. Martin’s book (Building Bridges) should not be used because of his ambiguity on this issue. The person with whom I was discussing things pointed out all the endorsements Martin’s book had from bishops and Vatican Cardinals. It was very difficult to convince him of the problematic elements of the book after that; and to be frank it left me frustrated, angry and embarrassed that I had to fight my own hierarchy to stay remain faithful to Catholic teaching and to help a brother Catholic who trusted that same hierarchy. As a layman it makes witnessing impossible because as my friend said: “who was I to question a Vatican Cardinal?”

    • Let us not be too “frustrated, angry or embarrassed.” The fiction-writers are in charge. Pied Piper James Martin serenades his harem of nuanced, business-as-usual clerical followers, especially those recruited to high places like lemmings heading for the cliff. No “Bridges” there…

      We just happen to live on the downside of the always mixed-bag “in season and out of season.”

      Mark Twain, I think, remarked that while history does not repeat itself, it rhymes. Reflecting on the 4th-century Arian heresy (which rhymes with our own 21st-century times and much in between), St. Jerome wrote that the world “awoke with a groan to find itself Arian.” The vast majority of bishops included, but not the laity. The current episode could be interesting, except for the monotonous predictability of reruns. A fish rots at the head first.

      But then there’s the layman Thomas More as he’s interrogated by the mind-bending Cardinal Wolsey…Wolsey blurts, “More! You should have been a cleric!” More, with great clarity: “Like yourself, Your Grace?” (A Man or All Seasons).

  11. Fr Martin is right in so far as clergy are exceedingly reluctant to speak against the flouting of Church teaching on a wide range of beliefs and practices. Nobody wants condemnations from the pulpit but we all need reminding of Church teaching and why we should follow it.

  12. It’s one thing to beat your wife: It’s quite another to beat your wife publicly and to say that this is acceptable and holy.

    I think the bright light of truth is needed to burn off the fog that enshrouds Fr. Martin’s mind.

  13. “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.”
    .
    I have known “faithful Catholic” physicians to advertise their sterilization services on bill boards on the highway. My husband has been in men’s groups where contraception use was openly admitted-the priest was in attendance. And people do talk about IVF services. Thousands of human beings are trapped in a frozen state in cryogenic chambers. Do their lives not matter?
    .
    The issue of contraception has not one, but two, encyclicals devoted to it. It was called intrinsically evil and vicious. A defender of the “right to an abortion” has argued before the Supreme Court that hormonal contraceptives can act as an abortafacient, and the Supreme Court itself has noted that people rely on the availability of abortion if contraceptives fail.
    .
    The people who engage in these sins are rejecting Church teaching. And these “private sins” have very public, damaging consequences and need to be taken far more seriously by the clergy.

    • Of Course, which is why wise guys like me, having just received the Body of Our Lord ten minutes earlier, should not have to be in a shouting match, WITHOUT SUPPORT FROM ANYONE ELSE, just outside the Church with our parish priest who made light of contraception during his homily to the giggling delight of many. We have to fight back in a thousand different ways.

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