- Rev. James Martin criticized “homophobic” pastors and the church’s exclusion of LGBT individuals from parish life.
- He argued for wider acceptance of LGBT individuals and homosexual relationships within the church, shortly after some Catholic leaders’ renewed call for a purge of gay priests.
- Critics claim his stance does not adequately account for the teachings of the church or for those with homosexual tendencies who choose to live according to the church’s moral teaching.
Rev. James Martin criticized “homophobic” pastors at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, calling for the church to consider LGBT individuals’ lived experiences.
Martin urged the Catholic church to more openly embrace homosexuals Thursday during a talk entitled “Showing Welcome and Respect in our Parishes for ‘LGBT’ People and their Families” at the conference. He argued that the church should advocate for homosexuals, include them in parish life, apologize to those the church has harmed and view them as a part of the body of Christ. (RELATED: Conservative Catholics Call For A Purge Of Gay Priests In Light Of Sex Abuse Scandals)
“By excluding LGBT people, you are breaking up God’s family; you are tearing apart the Body of Christ,” Martin said, according to National Catholic Register. “This is part of what it means to be a Christian: standing up for the marginalized, the persecuted, the beaten down. It’s shocking how little the Catholic Church has done this.”
Martin’s comments appeared to be aimed as much as the conference itself as they were at the church, given the fact that the World Meeting of Families barred LGBT groups from participating, pursuant to Catholic teaching on the definitions of marriage and family and God’s design for human sexuality.
Martin’s remarks also came shortly after a renewed call among Catholics for a purge of gay priests from ministry in response to the massive sexual abuse scandal highlighted by allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Martin, however, argued for a lessened focus on church teaching and greater consideration of LGBT individuals’ “lived experience.”
“Don’t reduce LGBT people to the call to chastity we all share,” Martin said. “LGBT people are more than their sexual lives, and if you talk about chastity with LGBT people, do it as much with straight people.”
He also argued that LGBT individuals are specially equipped to minister to marginalized groups, as they have historically experienced marginalization.
Catholic teaching does not, however, call heterosexual people to a lifetime of virginal chastity or celibacy, but instead allows for conjugal chastity — the containment of sex within the confines of marriage. Those with “deep seated” homosexual tendencies, which are “intrinsically disordered” according to the Church’s Catechism, are called to a lifetime of celibate chastity.
The Catechism also teaches that homosexual persons within the church are to be treated with respect and are to be supported in their pursuit of God’s will for their lives.
Martin argued, however, for a normalization of homosexual tendencies and relationships within the church and for church leaders to regard such relationships as justified so long as “love” and “fidelity” are displayed. While Martin claimed that homosexual persons should not be reduced to their sexuality, in the same breath he has argued for the church to accept an individual’s embrace of homosexual identity, revolving entirely around their sexual preferences, giving rise to an apparent contradiction.
Critics of his writings on homosexuality also argue that he does not adequately address Catholic social teaching or examples of individuals with homosexual tendencies who choose to live according to the Church’s teachings on morality and sexuality. In light of his controversial stance on homosexuality within the church, more than 16,000 people signed a petition to have Martin disinvited from the World Meeting of Families.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in response to pressure from the Irish government to ensure that the conference would not spread intolerance for LGBT people, declared that the conference would not exclude anyone.
“This encounter … is to promote the Christian concept of marriage, and the Catholic concept of marriage, and will focus on that. All people are invited; we don’t exclude anybody,” he said.
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