A few dozen Catholics have publicly accused Pope Francis of committing heresy, claiming in a 25-page letter issued Sept. 24 that the pontiff’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia contradicts previous church teaching.
The signatories also claim that Francis has been swayed by “false understandings of divine revelation” and has shown an “unprecedented sympathy” for Martin Luther, the German priest and theologian whose criticisms of the Catholic church in 1517 launched the Protestant reformation.
But several prominent theologians and scholars said the accusations are marked by hypocrisy and represent a marginal fringe view among academics. They noted that the 62 signatories of the letter are mainly obscure figures, with some even listed with relatively minor descriptions such as “diocesan priest” or “religious.”
Another nasty incident on social media at the beginning of this week. American Jesuit and bestselling author, Fr James Martin, had an invitation withdrawn from Theological College, associated with the Catholic University of America, to speak to their alumni. The invitation was revoked after a vicious attack was launched on social media by alt-right Catholics. The College gave in to pressure from the trolls that spewed uncharitable and unchristian attacks on Fr Martin. Their objection to his visit was his latest book which looks at the relationship between the LGBT Community and the Church.
Everyone is free to disagree with Fr Martin’s book. Several people have raised questions about it. He has been interviewed and has debated the book in front of public audiences. He has been open to critique about its contents. The book was given official recognition by Jesuit authorities, and various bishops – including Cardinal Kevin Farrell who is Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
In the week since Theological College at the Catholic University of America disinvited Jesuit Fr. James Martin from an upcoming reunion event, alumni have voiced their anger and dismay with the decision to each other and the seminary.
The Washington-based seminary cancelled the scheduled event with the popular author and media personality in response to backlash from far-right Catholic groups to Martin’s book on LGBT Catholics. In addition to disappointing some alumni, the move also made unlikely allies among two U.S. bishops, who in separate essays condemned the personal attacks against Martin that fueled his cancellation as harmful to the broader Catholic Church.
“Very unhappy about the decision,” said Fr. Martin Peter, a retired priest in the Indianapolis Archdiocese and the alumni representative for the seminary’s 1967 graduating class. Martin had been scheduled to talk during the seminary’s annual Alumni Days celebration (Oct. 3-4), which this year marks the 100th year since Theological College’s founding.
The recent uproar over Theological College’s decision to disinvite our colleague, Father James Martin, in response to organized pressure via social media offers several important lessons. The pattern of bullies and trolls being incited to strong-arm an organization or institution into cancelling a speaker whom they find objectionable is an increasingly common tactic among an array of ideological factions, as President John Garvey of the Catholic University of America has observed. Leaders in the church should think carefully about how to respond.
First, it is neither possible nor prudent to expect to be able to surrender to the internet troll and get to the other side of the bridge unscathed, with controversy avoided and no one the wiser. Recognizing this requires only attention to the current media environment, not theological analysis: Either the threatened disruptions or the cancellation of the speech will become the story, but once the trolls have a target in their sights, the story will not pass without notice.
Cutting, drug-abuse, suicide. Way too often we hear the tragic story of another LGBTQI person struggling. Is there a core issue, a common reason? I believe there is. We cannot underestimate the impact of family and faith-based rejection. Of being told that you are an abomination to God, of being kicked out of homes and rejected by the very people who were supposed to love you no matter what.
Recently, a Mom contacted me about her gay son. I wanted to share our interaction with you.
Celebrating the feast of St. Matthew, the anniversary of the day when as a 17-year-old he said he was overwhelmed by God’s mercy, Pope Francis said it was interesting how many Catholics today seem to be scandalized when God shows mercy to someone.
In his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae Sept. 21, Pope Francis looked in depth at the day’s short Gospel story of the calling of St. Matthew.
The story, the pope said, has three parts: “the encounter, the celebration and the scandal.”
Jesus sees Matthew, a tax collector — “one of those who made the people of Israel pay taxes to give to the Romans, a traitor to his country” — and calls him to follow. Jesus looks at him “lovingly, mercifully” and “the resistance of that man who wanted money, who was a slave to money, falls.”
Pope Francis on Tuesday decided to reboot one of the signature institutions of the St. Pope John Paul II era in Catholicism, the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. From now on it will be a theological institute, with the mandate of exploring the “lights and shadows” of family life with “realism” and “love,” while also staying faithful to the Church’s teaching.
ROME – Pope Francis on Tuesday decided to upgrade an institute for studies on marriage and family named for St. John Paul II and established by the Polish pope in 1981, replacing it with a pontifical theological institute designed to explore the “lights and shadows” of family life with “realism” and “love,” while also staying faithful to the Church’s teaching.
With a legal document known as a motu proprio published on Tuesday, the Vatican announced that the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family will now be replaced by the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences.
In a notable contribution to a document on LGBT discrimination and belief for the UN Human Rights Commission, Krzysztof Charamsa lays out all the ways in which the Catholic Church actively discriminates against LGBTI Catholics. It’s not comfortable reading.
One of the key points in my own thinking about the Catholic Church and queer Catholics, came when I heard Charamsa speak at the 2019 conference of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups in Gdansk. Like many others, I’ve been delighted by the notable change in pastoral tone coming from the church, ever since Pope Francis took on the see of Rome. Charamsa’s talk in Gdansk however, was a sobering reminder that notwithstanding the changes in pastoral tone, core doctrines remain unchanged – and these can be extremely damaging, even dangerous, to the emotional, spiritual and even physical health of LGBT Catholics.
Catholic bloggers and others are rallying to support yet another Catholic smeared by right-wing Catholic media last week. Rebecca Bratten Weiss believes the same colleagues who gathered “evidence” for the negative article about her also contributed to her adjunct teaching contract not being renewed this year.
Ever since she spoke out against some pro-lifers’ support of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, Bratten Weiss has been criticized by Catholics on the extreme right, so she has been “meticulous about not saying anything that could be used against me,” she told NCR.
If you’re looking for a Catholic priest who inspires people—and makes them laugh and think—James Martin, SJ, is your guy. At the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s annual conference, he’s greeted like a rock star by swarms of young Catholics who devour his books and remember him as Stephen Colbert’s “chaplain” on the Colbert Report. To say this is unusual is an understatement. Millennials are leaving the church in droves, turned off in part by an institution that has made opposition to same-sex marriage central to Catholic identity in the public square.
This generation of Catholics remains inspired by the church’s rich social justice tradition, has no patience for the culture wars, and is disgusted that their religious leaders are often perceived to be fighting against the human rights of gay people. When I heard the news last Friday that the seminary at Catholic University of America canceled a scheduled talk from Martin because a network of Catholic right attack dogs launched an ugly campaign against him, I cringed. The already-thin thread barely connecting these young Catholics to the institutional church just got thinner. Self-inflicted wounds are hard to heal.