LACROSSE, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church's top defenders of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, said that celebrity Jesuit priest and Vatican consultant Fr. James Martin “is not coherent with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.”
In a Jan. 10 interview with Don Fier of The Wanderer, Burke also rebuked bishops who promote the Jesuit priest within their dioceses. This indicates, he said, “that there is a serious difficulty within the hierarchy that must be addressed.”
Martin has come under fire for his speeches in which he advocates for what his critics say is the normalization of homosexuality within the Catholic Church. The editor-at-large of the Jesuit-run America magazine has been invited to numerous U.S. dioceses where he gives his pro-LGBT message.
At the November meeting of Catholic bishops in Baltimore, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Texas questioned whether his brother bishops believed that homosexual acts are, in fact, immoral, and if so, why certain bishops have allowed a homosexualist message to be preached in their dioceses. “There’s a priest that travels around now basically saying that he doesn’t [believe the doctrine of the Church],” Strickland said, “and he seems to be very well promoted in various places.” He added, “Brothers, I think part of the fraternal correction, or the fraternal support, we offer each other is to say, 'Can that be presented in our diocese? That same-sex ‘marriage’ is just fine, and the Church will one day grow to understand that.'”
To the applause of some of the bishops, Strickland said, “It’s part of our Deposit of Faith that we believe homosexual activity is immoral.”
While Strickland refrained from naming the priest in question, the description fits with LGBT-affirming Father Martin, author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” The book was received widely among liberals. It was endorsed by Cardinals Kevin Farrell and Joseph Tobin, as well as San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy. The latter has written that criticisms of Martin are a “cancer” in the Church.
Burke, however, explicitly named Martin in the Jan. 11 interview. He was responding to the question about whether there is an attempt within Church circles to soften Catholic teachings about homosexuality as cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, changing the words “intrinsically disordered” to “differently ordered” as they apply to homosexual acts.
The Cardinal said that such a change is not possible.
“God did not make us to engage in sexual relations between two people of the same sex,” he said.
Burke said that while the “majority” of U.S. bishops are not in favor of changing the Catechism on homosexuality, there are “pressure groups” who have power to drive the body towards positions opposed by individual bishops. Saying that there is an “element that is not coherent with the Church” teaching on homosexuality, Burke identified them with those who “promote Fr. James Martin SJ.”
Burke is not the first Prince of the Church to specifically name Fr. Martin and warn about his teachings.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, rebuked Martin in an August 2017 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The revered Guinean churchman identified Martin as “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality.”
“He repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality, while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers,” Cardinal Sarah wrote.
In addition, Archbishop Charles Chaput also criticized Martin in a July 2017 column. While saying that persons with “same-sex attractions” must be treated with “respect, compassion and sensitivity,” Chaput said that neither Martin or other Church leaders have a license to ignore the Bible’s word on sexuality. Reviewing Martin’s book, Chaput wrote, “What the text regrettably lacks is an engagement with the substance of what divides faithful Christians from those who see no sin in active same-sex relationships.”
Appearing at the World Conference of Families last August, Martin argued that “LGBT people should be invited into parish ministries: eucharistic ministers, music ministers, lectors, bereavement ministry, and every ministry.”
Martin’s defenders include pro-LGBT Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, and others.
Fr. Martin appears to have counted Pope Francis among his possible supporters. Telling the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice in June 2018 that “things are changing” in the Church regarding homosexuality, Martin told listeners, “...Just look at what has happened in the last five years--since Pope Francis has been elected.” He identified Francis’s comment, “Who am I to judge” as the pope’s most famous words, adding that they happened to be “about gay people, right?”
“He’s the first pope to use the word ‘gay’, you know, in a sentence,” Martin continued. Claiming that the pope has relationships with persons who identify as LGBT, Martin also claimed that the pontiff has appointed bishops and cardinals who promote the homosexuality agenda.
“He has gay friends. He’s talked about wanting gay people to feel welcome in the Church. That’s a big deal. He has also appointed gay-friendly bishops and archbishops and cardinals, like Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of Newark who, for example, held a ‘Welcome Mass’ for LGBT people in his Cathedral… So that’s one trend,” Martin said.