On Pope Francis’ Letter to Fr. James Martin

The Church cannot expect worldly persons, raised in a society that teaches all manner of very extensive errors which affect the very core of personhood, to suddenly change, first, and then become Catholic. To obtain converts from this society, we cannot reject all persons whose lives, in advance of conversion, are not in accord with Catholic teaching. The Church must embrace lepers before they are healed. (Here, leprosy is a figure for sin, which afflicts us all.) The Church must find a way to reach out to persons whose lives are not in accord with Her doctrine, and embrace them before they convert.

So Amoris Laetitia is correct in opening a path for those in irregular situations, to be in the Church while they struggle with their own lives and situations, yet still receive help from the Sacraments. This issue is going to become greater and greater as the Church becomes holier while the world becomes ever more sinful. We cannot abandon persons just because they are LGBTQ+ or whatever the next issues and conflicts between Church and society might be.

Fr. Martin’s work contains grave errors. But there is nothing wrong with complementing him for the good that he is doing, in the midst of those errors. That is what Jesus did. He complemented the Centurion for his great faith, an implicit faith in the one true God, even though the Centurion was likely a member of the Roman pagan religion. He complemented the woman of Canaan for her great faith, even though she was not a Jew or a follower of Christ. She, too, was likely a member of a pagan religion.

And those who both criticize Fr. Martin and reject Pope Francis are committing greater errors than Martin is. Recall the parable of the splinter and the plank. Persons who reject the authority of the Pope, who accuse him of heresy, in contradiction to the dogmas of Vatican I, are sinning by schism as well as heresy. And then they complain about Fr. Martin. Take the board out of your own eye first, you hypocrites.


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4 Responses to On Pope Francis’ Letter to Fr. James Martin

  1. Todd Langis says:

    Can you please point out the errors of Fr. Martin.

    • Ron Conte says:

      He doesn’t fully integrate magisterial teaching into his preaching. He reaches out to LGBT persons, but he compromises the Gospel in doing so. It’s very hard to reach out to groups that inherently, as part of their lives, and very fully are living in contradiction to important Church teachings. I’m not sure exactly what the perfect version of Martin’s outreach would be. He needs to scrutinize his entire body of work so far, and like Augustine, make a series of corrections.

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks. I see Fr. Martin reaching out to “the least” of the LGBT community in unison of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ, backed in Gospel values (Matthew 25:31-46). Doesn’t Pope Francis envision the Mystical Body of Christ—the Church, as a “loving Mother”, and with respect to evangelization calls the Church to be a “field hospital”, whereby, Her members are called “out to the margins”, “smelling like sheep”, as would the “Good Sheppard” taught to us by Christ? How can this be done when the Institutional Church uses inflammatory terms to describe LGBTs like “intrinsically evil”? Aren’t we as Pope Francis encourages us to love them into the Church? His Angelus on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 27) spoke about of “the nameless woman” with a hemorrhage from the Gospel of St Mark (5:21-43) would have made her impure for years because of the continuous menstrual flow, which would condemn her as an outcast and a marginalized person. Rachel Amiri, from whereispeter.com makes the comparison of Pope Francis’ image of the haemorrhaging woman with Fr. Martin’s LGBTQ “…marginalized ‘flock,’ who today may feel excluded from the Church community because they are [also] made to feel ‘impure.’”* This approach is reaching out to “the least” is it not??? If you can provide how Fr. Martin “compromises the Gospel” please let me know. No-doubt I really should read his book Building a Bridge. *(See: Pope Francis understands Fr. Martin—Do We?).

    • Ron Conte says:

      Fr. Martin does not teach that same-sex sexual acts are intrinsically evil. That term is not inflammatory; it is accurate. However, homosexuality is not a sin, but a disorder. So there are certain difficult truths that Fr. Martin simply does not preach. He acknowledges the good in these persons but does not challenge them to take up their crosses, and change to become more like Christ.

      So while he has done good work, he also has an approach that is not acceptable for the Church to use to reach out to LGBT persons. It is one thing to be a sinner struggling with sin; it is quite another to be a sinner who does not acknowledge his sins.

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