Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has criticised the influential priest-author Fr James Martin, saying his work exhibits “a pattern of ambiguity”.
Archbishop Chaput was responding to public concern at Fr Martin being invited to speak at a Philadelphia university. The archbishop said that, as the university is under the authority of the Jesuits, he could not stop the talk. But he said it was “necessary to emphasise that Fr Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church”.
What the archbishop said
Archbishop Chaput said there was much “ambiguity about same-sex related issues” in Fr Martin’s statements and activities. For instance, the Jesuit “partners with organisations like New Ways Ministry that oppose or ignore the teaching of the Church, and he endorses events, such as Pride month, that cause confusion for the faithful.”
Moreover, Fr Martin has criticised the Church’s term “objectively disordered” as cruel. But Archbishop Chaput said it was a wise term, which applied to many other things besides same-sex sexual acts.
According to the archbishop, Fr Martin also – “no doubt unintentionally” – implied that Church teaching could change. “What is implied or omitted often speaks as loudly as what is actually stated,” the archbishop said, and could be a challenge to belief.
What Fr Martin said
in a response, published like Archbishop Chaput’s critique on the Philadelphia archdiocese website, Fr Martin said he wasn’t sure how to address the archbishop’s criticisms.
Fr Martin said that, while he was accused of “implying” opposition to Church teaching, “I am assiduous in my writings and talks about not challenging church teaching on matters of sexual morality (or anything, for that matter).” Fr Martin said he wanted to “encourage Catholics to see LGBT people as more than just sexual beings, to see them in their totality, much as Jesus saw people on the margins.”
Archbishop Chaput replied that “The point is not to ‘not challenge’ what the Church believes about human sexuality, but to preach and teach it with confidence, joy and zeal.”