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Father Martin apologizes for ‘not being clearer’ about Archbishop Weakland’s ‘sins and crimes’

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

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

CNA Newsroom, Aug 23, 2022 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

Father James Martin, SJ, said he was sorry Tuesday for not having been clearer about the “sins and crimes” of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, in an earlier tweet noting the death of the Benedictine and retired prelate.

“Last night many people were angered by two tweets about Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who committed many sins and crimes, and who died at 95. Obviously I condemn his covering up of sex abuse and his paying out hush money,” Martin, an editor at large for America magazine, wrote on Twitter Aug. 23.

“I can see how people thought I was downplaying (or even ignoring) his sins and crimes. I’m sorry for not being clearer about that.”

Martin had, on Aug. 22, tweeted about Weakland’s death, saying, “An erudite scholar, gifted pastor and Benedictine abbot primate, his legacy was marred by revelations that he paid money to a man with whom he had been in a relationship. I considered him a friend and mourn his loss. May he rest in peace.”

Weakland died Aug. 22 after a long illness. He resigned as Milwaukee’s archbishop in 2002 after revelations that the archdiocese had paid $450,000 to silence Paul J. Marcoux, an adult seminarian with whom he had had a sexual relationship.

Marcoux said he had received the money as part of a pretrial settlement over a lawsuit. He characterized his sexual encounters with Weakland, which took place in the early 1980s, as date rape.

Weakland said he began having homosexual relationships after his episcopal consecration.

He dissented from the Church’s teaching on the immorality of sodomy, and the impossibility of the priestly ordination of women.

His own sexual abuse, and his poor handling of abuse by other priests, led to the renaming, in 2019, of the Weakland Center, which holds the offices of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Martin’s tweets of apology for not more clearly discussing Weakland’s failures soon pivoted to a discussion of mercy.

“I was also surprised by Catholics saying not only that they could never be friends with someone like that, but that he should ‘rot in hell,’” Martin wrote Aug. 23.

“I take seriously Jesus’s scandalous friendship with ‘sinners and tax collectors’ and considered Archbishop Weakland, a deeply sinful man, a friend. The heart of Jesus’s message is that no one is beyond God’s infinite mercy, not even a murderer, not even Rembert Weakland.”

Martin continued: “I apologize for seemingly excusing his many sins and crimes. That wasn’t my intent: I condemn those actions and should have been clearer. But I also ask if people would have sat beside Jesus as he ate with ‘sinners and tax collectors,’ as he often did in Galilee and Judea?”

“May God have mercy on the soul of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, and may God have mercy on all sinners, which is all of us, myself included,” he concluded.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, in his Aug. 22 statement on Weakland’s death, did not refer to his predecessor’s sexual sins.

“For a quarter of a century, Archbishop Weakland led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his leadership embodied his Benedictine spirit,” Listecki wrote.

“His pastoral letter, ‘Eucharist without Walls,’ evoked his love for the Eucharist and its call to service. During his time, he emphasized an openness to the implementation of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, including the role of lay men and women in the Church, the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, ecumenical dialogue, and addressing societal issues, especially economic justice. May he now rest in peace.”

Weakland was born in 1927 in Patton, Pennsylvania, and attended the minor seminary run by St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. He was professed as a member of the Order of St. Benedict at the abbey in 1946, and took solemn vows in 1949. He was ordained a priest in 1951.

A music scholar, he was made a consultor to the Consilium, the committee that interpreted Sacrosanctum Concilium and that was responsible for preparing the revised Order of Mass following the Second Vatican Council, in 1964. He was made a member of the Consilium in 1968.

In 1967, he was appointed abbot primate of the Order of St. Benedict.

He was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977 and consecrated a bishop that year. He served there until his retirement at age 75 in 2002.


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49 Comments

  1. Another clarifying media pose for James Martin, as he continues to publish his gay-enabling networking site under the letterhead of the USCCB. Or, maybe Courage (couragerc.org) is now linked (not yet as the alternative, but as “inclusive”)? And what, exactly, is a “relationship.”

    • Exactly, Peter!

      And how exactly was Weakman’s (malapropism intended) “relationship” with the seminarian “sexual”?

      Males inseminating one another’s intestines may be characterized in many ways, but it is in no way, sense or respect “sexual”.

      • Spot on! The vile genital gymnastics does not deserve the term sexual.

        We’ve just been told that monkey pox is essentially a vinereal disease among men who have sex with men. It seems we have not learned the lesson of AIDS.

        • I gave of my “time, talent and treasure” to the archdiocese and I expected that my effort and gifts would be used to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the hope of salvation. How discouraging to learn I was abused, lied to and deceived into supporting sodomites. May God forgive us all.

    • Truth establishes courage, they are concomitant as we walk God’s path.

      Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

      1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

      Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

      Psalm 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

      Thanks and God’s rich blessings.

  2. Maybe James Martin SCH should consider another perspective, that one about removing the beam in one’s own eye before pulling the speck of sawdust out of his brother’s. Martin’s own teaching and position creates, supports, and protects people like Weakland, so it’s a situation where the pot is calling the kettle black. Does anyone actually take this guy seriously?

    • It would be music to the ears of those who wish to destroy the church.

      Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

      Romans 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      Jude 1:7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

      Soldier on my brother and thank you.

      • Leviticus 20:10 says to execute adulterers. Deuteronomy 22 says to stone non-virgins. Fortunately, we don’t follow the Bible’s verses on heterosexuals. 99% fornicate, not due to immorality, but due to the fact that in Bible days couples got married as young teens while today the average first-time groom is 29 and bride 27. A record number opt out of marriage altogether and those who do wed do so later and later in life. Let’s not have one set of standards for heterosexuals and another for LGBT folks.

  3. A sodomite has no business being a bishop in the Catholic Church. What more can be said other than I pray for the immortal soul of all sodomites who have died whether they are clergy or layperson. I pray, too, for those who keep sodomites in their sin by defending the sinfulness of their act.

    • If I defend the sinfulness of something it means that I insist on its sinful quality. Surely what is objected to is speaking and writing in defence of the sinlessness of the activity under consideration? I offer this suggestion only tentatively; it may be that this is another example of British and Americans being separated by a common language.

  4. “I just wanted to be loved. Is that so wrong?” I couldn’t pass on the Jon Lovitz/SNL sketch. Then of course there is the infamous radical Bill Ayers’ paen to American justice. “Guilty as sin. Free as a bird. Is America a great country or what?”. Not a day in jail for misuse of Church funds; covering up for predators, or his own predation. He did get a book contract. Francesco “Mercy” avant la lettre.

  5. Did Weakland ever repent of his acts of sodomy and homosexual behavior? Or, did he try to normalize his behavior?

    Listened to an Eastern Orthodox priest on the subject and he was very clear. He said: We are not given the knowledge or wisdom on how to judge the soul of another human being. Eternal Judgement is left to our Lord. Our Lord does give us the knowledge and wisdom to judge the behaviors of another human being so that we may make decisions that will lead to our own salvation, and that of our families, for which we are responsible. If the behavior of another person is sinful, then we must admonish the sinner, and disassociate with that person if necessary to protect our own souls, by “avoiding the near occasion of sin.”

    Also, the same Orthodox priest said: Christ doesn’t change, rather it is us who must change by repenting our own sinful behaviors. Christ doesn’t teach that sin is not sin, rather Our Lord calls us to repent of our sins, for without repentance, we cannot receive the merciful judgement of God.

    I wish Roman Catholic priests were clearer in their teachings by simply saying we don’t know the fate of Weakland’s eternal soul as that has not been revealed to any of us, only Our Lord and Savior knows. We do know he committed mortal sins that would have kept him out of eternal paradise with our Lord, and we must also avoid these same mortal sins to preserve our own souls and advise others to avoid these same mortal sins.

  6. The man is dead and may God have mercy on his soul.

    Just have a Mass offered for him and move on – the subject is closed.

      • Weakland and his defenders used plenty of metaphorical stones to crush the skulls of the unborn without apology. Yes, there is reason to be frustrated that his defenders never learn, which reflects the ongoing crisis in the Church, which recrucifies Our Lord every day. Nonetheless, we pray for mercy on his soul.

  7. James Martin,

    Jesus’ friendship with sinners is not scandalous. After all, that is what the God who seeks the return of the lost do. There is nothing scandalous about that because He is always exhorting them to metanoia. The sinners are told that they will be thrown in hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth if they don’t repent. He tells them that the road to hell is wide and the road to life, narrow.

    What is scandalous is your enabling of sin. What is scandalous is your promotion of sin and not calling it what it is – a grave transgression against our All Holy God – so that people will repent.

    What is scandalous is that you who have been ordained to be a priest of God so terribly promotes what is the opposite of what God teaches we should do.

    You’d rather people remain in the muck and the filth rather than seeking the painful (excruciating) path to freedom and to the Lord.

  8. James Martin correctly states, “The heart of Jesus’s message is that no one is beyond God’s infinite mercy.” He didn’t add, however, that one must repent, confess and accept absolution for that mercy to be effective. Unfortunately, Martin fails in teaching, but succeeds miraculously in misleading.

  9. I concluded a couple of years ago that prudence demands I completely ignore Fr. James Martin, SJ. I would no more read anything he writes or listen to anything he says than I would drink poison. That said, I have no objection to CWR reporting on his escapades in the interest of exposing dysfunction and corruption in the Church.

  10. The Hypocritical Pharisees still roam about us today. As a ‘Straight-male’ I have friends who are homosexual, both men and women. Why they have this way of life is beyond my understanding. Quoting Jesus in Jn 8:7; “Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone…,” I can’t imagine what went through their minds as the mob drifted away as John notes, “beginning with the elders.” Each of us has enough to atone for before a loving and forgiving God so, if your consider your self a good Catholic Christian act like the one you profess to believe in. Allow your brothers and sisters the freedom to live as sons and daughters of the Father you call your own. Don’t be like the older brother in the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’ and refuse to accept your brother or sister as your Father does. Pray that they may find peace and acceptance in a world that is full of hate and intolerance for those who are “not like me.” Remember you are unique, a one-time creation and loved by God. so, remember my Pharisaical ‘brothers and sisters’ so are they.

    • Mr. Fargo, we are to love one another as Christians & meet them where they are but it doesn’t mean leaving them there. Christ has something better to offer them.

    • Let’s review scripture as it appears as if we may have read different versions. In the Catholic tradition, not that according to James Martin, God detests sin. Have you heard or read the scripture which teaches that principle?

      Re the parable. The Father allowed his son the freedom, but the Father does not follow his son to the foreign land. Does the Father approve of his son’s action? No. Only when the son/sinner ‘returns to his Father’s house’ (otherwise known as repentance), the Father then forgives the son and welcomes him back home.

      Jesus told the sinner to “Sin no more.” Jesus did not tell the sinner: “Carry on.”

      God’s love is for everyone, but God shares His beatitude and His eternal glory only with those who love Him. John 14:21 has Jesus saying: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” If we love Him, we keep His commandments.

      In numerous places in his Epistles, Paul proclaims that fornicators and sodomites, thieves, robbers, and adulterers will not inherit God’s kingdom. Just as Jim Martin SJ is free to describe Weakland as he does, so are we free to apply any of St. Paul’s labels as we see fit and appropriate to the homosexual bishop that Weakland proclaimed himself to be.

    • John Fargo,

      Is this desire to misread and misinterpret the Lord wilful or just ignorant?

      This loving and forgiving God loves us and forgives us precisely because there is something TO FORGIVE. This SOMETHING TO FOGIVE is sin. Just because we have an inclination to a particular sin does not give us a free pass. Each of us is told to repent. Forgiveness and repentance go together.

      The same loving and forgiving God also said that death comes like a thief in the night at the time you do not know so be prepared or you’ll be cast out. This same merciful God tells us that we should tell sinners to repent and if we don’t then not only is their sin on them, but their sin is on us who fail to teach them.

      Why would you not exhort your LGBT friends to repentance? It’s like a “friend” seeing someone ODying on heroine or recklessly driving towards a cliff saying: keep going my friend that seems to be your pleasure so go ahead.

      We have so corrupted the meaning of love and compassion that we think affirming people in the depth of their depravity is compassion and mercy.

      Christ did not die an excruciating death for us so that we can that think we can go on living a depraved life because he’ll forgive me anyway.

      Grace is not cheap!

      I hope you will have the courage (yes courage)to tell your friends like it is and in so doing truly love them and desire their good. At the moment you are affirming them in their sin.

      Unless of course like so many people you don’t really think sin is a big deal.

  11. I, a Mass going every Sunday all my life, Cradle Catholic, was rejected by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee seminary in the mid 1980s. My parish priest said that it was odd that the seminary gave no reason for the rejection. Later in life, a fellow Catholic from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, told me that the seminary had a problem. The straight seminarians had been complaining about the noise from homosexual sex going on in the next dorm room while they were trying to pray. So the seminary director simply stopped accepting straight candidates for the priesthood to solve the problem. She said this was Archbishop Weakland’s preference. Another friend told me that his parish priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee referred to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, St. Francis seminary as St. Francis Sexinary. I am sure the Church lost a great number of good priest vocations by the evil acts of Bishop Weakland, and other liberal Bishops around the world, in their diabolical plan to build the ‘Gay Lobby’ in the Vatican, by grooming seminaries with only gay men.

  12. More posturing and gaslighting by Martin. Weakland never repented his practice and promotion of sodomy. To be appalled by such a man is not contrary to the example of Christ eating with sinners. Christ always had a message for sinners: “Repent.” And Martin always has a message for sinners: “Relax.”

  13. Mr. Olson;

    I have a question – why does it seem to me that every uttering, every opinion, and now every apology from this sad little man merits being reported on by CWR? Surely you have reached the saturation point, as many of US have.

    Enough is enough.

  14. As a lifelong Traditionalist Catholic and a minor seminarians during the years before the full Modernist impact of Vatican II took control of the Church, I’ve maintained a conscious awareness of Fr. Martin’s reputation as the “resident heretic” of Notre Dame. I believe that his religious beliefs are distorted by Modernism and I take whatever he publishes and supports as opposite to the tried and true Traditionalist views that I have studied and believed in for all of my Catholic life. For the good of the Church he should have retired many years ago and gone into religious seclusion to examine fully where he has failed to follow the teachings of Christ, the Fathers of the Church and the Saints and Blesseds of the Church.

    • I think you give him to much credit for having a philosophical bent.

      Keep in mind this guy has a degree from the Wharton School. He worked as a financial analyst at GE in the Jack Welch days.

      Just as companies pander to the alphabet, Martin does. He’s created a personal brand and a cottage industry by staying focused on talking about the alphabet all the time.

      In short, this is all about the Benjamins

  15. 🤑 This emoji sports dollar-sign eyes.

    “It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without the need to have recourse to God and His mercy” — Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor. –

    (Quoted by John Likoudis, writing at Catholic Culture.)

  16. Any man, homosexual or heterosexual, who seeks the priesthood, MUST embrace the teachings of the church – believe, support, teach and live those teachings clearly, fully and faithfully. If a priest or bishop (or, God forbid, a cardinal) finds he cannot do this, he should have the integrity to resign the priesthood. Ordinary people, like myself, look to priests for spiritual and moral guidance. How can a priest give such guidance if he is living a double life? If you don’t believe what the church believes, you should not be a priest.

  17. Note Martin’s words; Weakland’s “sins and crimes” were cover-up of sex abuse and blowing $600K of embezzled money. Nothing about engaging in sodomy and breaking his vow of chastity. In Martin’s sick mind, the sodomy aint a big deal.

  18. Religion, politics and all other walks of life have good, honest people and lowlifes. Religion has always been about power and always will be, same with politics. Many religious coverups abound the higher up the ladder you go. Plus there are many more we will never know about.

  19. As much as I wish for the Mercy of God for him for his sins and his repentence,, Father Martin should say as little as possible sbout this man. Instead he should constantly and earnestly pray for his soul rather than clairify his position or seek to repair the reputation he calls a friend.. This would be the best Father Martin could do for his friend and himself.

    • Catholics don’t have eulogies though, at least not in the same way as others do And this all illustrates why.
      We pray in charity for the soul of the departed. Period.

  20. Martin is in many ways a fitting eulogist for Weakland. Both of them epitomize the difficulties driving the disintegration of the cadre of priests.

  21. Judgement does come by Our Lord who is THE JUST JUDGE, we as the baptized should enforce to others HIS teachings. That is what is expected as we carry our cross. A unmarried woman sleeping with a married man is the same as a man sleeping with another man.. it equally is a SIN. No stone is cast if the brethren is in charity explaining the SIN and trying to bring salvation to that soul. Unfortunately, it is misleading not enforce the sacrament of confession. Not to enforce SIN. And what happens when one is in SIN, the Holy Spirit must leave.. HE CAN’T STAY…GOD is not sin… but the enemy sure is and likes to fill the minds with lies and convince it’s not so bad…As the woman who had many husbands and with another man who was not her husband, Jesus told her to SIN NO MORE.
    I would love to sit next to Jesus and listen to what he said to the tax collectors and those in sin. HE would’ve been graceful and caring enough to tell them to stop.

    • Adultery and sodomy are both alike in being grave sins but they do differ significantly in other ways.
      It’s within the realm of possibility that a man and woman who have committed adultery could later marry following Confession and the death of a spouse. That’s never going to be the case for a SSA relationship.
      But I hear what you are saying about counseling others to sin no more. That’s a priest’s job and if he fails in that he will be held accountable to a higher standard.

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