Statement from the Paulist Fathers Regarding Father James Martin, SJ
Rev. James Martin, SJ, is not only a noted Catholic author and priest but he is also a friend and neighbor of the Paulist Fathers and a parishioner of our Mother Church, St. Paul the Apostle, in New York City. We are grateful for his presence in our midst and the many occasions he has celebrated Mass with us and graciously addressed our faith community. He is our brother in God’s vineyard.
Thus, many Paulists were shocked and disappointed by the decision of Theological College, a national Roman Catholic seminary, to rescind an invitation to Fr. Martin to give a talk entitled “Encountering Jesus: Meeting the Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith” at their upcoming Alumni Symposium. Apparently, Theological College feared that the negative reaction they have received from “various social media websites” since the publication of Fr. Martin’s most recent book, Building a Bridge, would taint their 100th Anniversary Celebration.
We support Fr. Jim Martin’s vision to engage Church pastoral practice on the care of our LGBT brothers and sisters as exemplified in his book. He chose to write on a subject that should unite all Christians: the human dignity of every person. Yet, for some, this book’s call for the simple act of love and respect is perceived as a slippery slope towards heresy and damnation. From our reading of the book, this is simply not the case.
Moreover, this incident exposes the ugliness of homophobia and intolerance in our Church and society that is in desperate need of reconciliation and healing. Theological College had an opportunity to offer Christian leadership and confront efforts to blacklist Fr. Martin. Instead they have sent a dangerous message to the future priests they train that encouraging dialogue and accompaniment with those on the periphery is unacceptable.
For the sake of our Catholic community of faith, most especially our LGBT family members, fellow parishioners, collaborators in ministry and friends, we hope and pray this moment may prompt desperately needed charitable conversation and dialogue among the faithful on sexuality and spirituality, lead to deeper theological inquiry and insight, and foster communion among all God’s children.
Very Rev. Eric P. Andrews, C.S.P.
President, The Paulist Fathers