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Father Dave Responds to Backlash Against Father James Martin


Father Dave responds to the most recent criticism and smear campaign that Father James Martin, SJ, has faced in response to his latest book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” Most recently, a few notable Catholic institutions rescinded invitations for Father Martin to address them in person. Father Dave defends Father Martin’s work and approach, adding that the Church needs to engage in challenging conversations with charity and respect.

“The book is about finding ways in which both the LGBT community and the Catholic Church can try to get past the impasse and begin to open a dialogue to at least start talking with one another,” Father Dave says. “It is not a book about the morality — pro or con — of homosexuality or of gay marriage. Many people have critiqued Father Martin that he shouldn’t be talking about trying to find dialogue or to try to lull people into false hope, and he should be more firmly and sternly stating the Church’s position that sexual activity, we believe, is only moral within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Father Martin does bring that up in his book, but the whole book is not about that. … It’s a book about how there are people in our world that Christ commands us to be reaching out to — everybody and people that feel that they are on the fringe — that we should find a way to at least express hospitality to, to at least open a dialogue.”

LISTEN: Father James Martin on Building a Bridge to the LGBT Community

“To enter into a dialogue is not to condone the actions of people,” Father Dave says. “One of the points that Father Jim made here on the show was, it’s as if every time we had a meeting of married couples, we led off with, ‘By the way, don’t forget that adultery is a big ol’ mortal sin. It’s in the 10 Commandments.’ We don’t usually with anybody else feel the need to broadcast what are all the potential sinful parts of their life before welcoming them in.”

Father Dave reads from a statement by Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego that addresses the roots of the severe backlash against the book. “We’re talking about people that are using vicious and uncharitable language against a priest — and calling him things that would make Jesus blush when he commands us to be charitable to one another — in the name of orthodoxy or moral theology,” Father Dave says.

“Like a prophet, Father Jim realized that this is something that needs to be said, and I agree with him. … We do have homophobia in the Church, and we do have fundamental misunderstandings about what it means to be a Christian and where various sins fall.” (Original Air 09-21-17)

Read a statement in support of Father Martin from the Paulist Fathers here.