Harm in the Words of Deacon Jim Russell

I have grave reservations about the work of Deacon Jim Russell.

1. Grave Moral Errors

In a couple of my past posts, I argue against Deacon Jim Russell’s grave moral errors on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

* Response to Deacon Jim Russell on Combatants and Double Effect
* A Catholic Deacon justified Mass Murder

In a response to Russell, professor John Paul Meenan has this to say: “Deacon Russell rather surprisingly argues that ‘everyone was a combatant’ in Japan, and hence none were ‘innocent,’ and all therefore were legitimate targets of war.” [Truman’s Decision Was a Great Moral Evil]

And when Russell proposes that everyone in Japan a combatant, this has the effect of seeming to justify genocide. Enemy combatants can be morally killed in war. But the truth is that civilians are not enemy combatants, and the Church has condemned the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the killing of innocents.

How badly do you have to misunderstand Catholic moral theology, to think that everyone is an enemy combatant and that the mass murder of the inhabitants of two cities is justifiable? Deacon Jim Russell has a poor understanding of Catholic teaching on intrinsically evil acts and the three fonts of morality.

2. Remove all gay priests?

Deacon Jim Russell has publicly called for every gay priest, and any priest who “supports the “so-called ‘gay culture,’ ” to leave the ministry: “absolutely need to leave active priestly ministry — period.” What would the percentages be? He cites numbers given by Fr. James Martin, then says “Which means that, if his percentages are accurate, 30 to 40 percent of our priests should leave — and permanently.”

What’s wrong with that? Plenty. Deacon Jim Russell is an ordained man, but not a priest or bishop. He does not stand in persona Christi, nor is he a Reverend. He has no authority over any priest or Bishop. It is arrogant in the extreme for him to stand in judgment over every priest in the Church, hundreds of thousands of priests. Which deacon has that role? None. Which priest has that role? None. Which Bishop has that role? only the Bishop of Rome. Deacon Jim Russell is speaking as if he were the Roman Pontiff, judging all the priests of the Church on earth.

And he claims to be expressing the will of the Church. “Not only is it the will of the Church that men who themselves experience deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be ordained to priestly ministry, but it is also the will of the Church that men comprising another important category not be ordained to such ministry, too.” That is not the will of the Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis. That is not the will of many of the Bishops. So how is this the will of the Church?

The arrogance for a deacon to stand in judgment over all priests, and publicly declare which ones should leave the ministry, it’s just astounding. Priests serve Jesus and His flock. Russell usurps an authority not given to him.

And who is to say what is or is not “support for gay culture”? Russell is referencing one document on admission to seminaries. But that is not sufficient to justify a claim of the will of the Church, nor a worldwide call to remove gay priests and those with supposedly the wrong position on LGBT issues.

Would Pope Francis, our High Priest, qualify as one of those who ought to be removed from ministry? For he said, about gay priests who serve faithfully, “who am I to judge”, and he said, to a gay man, “God made you this way.” As long as you are judging all priests, as if you were Pope, why not judge the actual Pope?

Adding to the hypocrisy is the fact that Deacon Jim Russell’s boss at ChurchMilitant.com is Michael Voris, a man with extensive past homosexual behavior and also (in all likelihood) current same-sex attraction. So if a person with said orientation is unfit for the priesthood, why is he fit to be Russell’s boss at ChurchMilitant.com? Hypocrisy.

3. Verbal Abuse of Fr. James Martin

Fr. Martin is a Catholic priest who deserves to be treated with respect as a person and as a priest. In his article, The Insanely Stupid ‘LGBT’ Rhetoric of Fr. James Martin, Deacon Jim Russell verbally abuses Martin and also ridicules the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on treating gay persons with respect. This behavior is unbecoming of a deacon.

Russell verbally abusing Martin: “Homosexualist Jesuit Fr. James Martin is a facile, worm-tongued deceiver and false teacher.” And then Russell claims “Yet, I’d never call him insane or stupid.” And then he goes on to use the expression “insanely stupid”, again and again, about Martin’s words and ideas, essentially implying the same about Martin himself.

The CCC says that gay persons: “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Russell openly mocks the CCC teaching on respect, compassion, and sensitivity:

Russell: “He’ll mention the Easter Sunday Mass in which a mom tearfully watched as her ‘gay’ son came to Church for the first time in a long time, only to hear the priest preach against the ‘evils of homosexuality’ and her son walked out — no respect, no compassion, no sensitivity!”

Russell also cites an example of a priest refusing Extreme Unction to a dying person because was gay, and he mocks the criticism of that refusal saying “hatred, bigotry!”

Russell: “He [Fr. James Martin] will tell you about the disturbing example of a ‘gay’ man who was dying and the priest who refused to give him the Anointing of the Sick — hatred, bigotry!”

Mocking a dying sinner for wanting to receive the Sacraments of the Church before death is a grave sin. And so is mocking the teaching of the Church on any subject.

4. Support for Michael Voris and ChurchMilitant.com

Jim Russell is a commentator at Michael Voris’ website ChurchMilitant.com. Voris and his organization have openly attacked Pope Francis, claiming he is not in the state of grace. Voris has treated many Bishop with cruelty and verbal abuse, subjecting them to harsh judgment, and condemning their very souls by saying they lack supernatural faith. The way that ChurchMilitant.com treats gay persons is hatred and bigotry. Their articles are full of hate speech and gay slurs. By working with “Church Militant”, Russell is supporting and contributing to the harm they do to the Church.

The Internet Problem

There is a problem in the Church today, Catholics who spread grave errors via the internet. This includes priests, deacons, religious, and the laity. There is no oversight, and no real recourse when someone is teaching error, or spreading hate, in the name of Jesus and His Church. And so the faithful have become confused as to whom they should listen and follow. This is the type of problem that requires a strong doctrinal Pope, or an Ecumenical Council to solve.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
* My books of theology
* My translation of the Bible
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