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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a stinging op-ed, a high-ranking Vatican cardinal is calling out celebrity Jesuit Fr. James Martin for pushing the homosexual narrative. Published in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, Cdl. Robert Sarah's commentary responds to Martin's recently released Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity.
"Those who speak on behalf of the Church must be faithful to the unchanging teachings of Christ," Sarah said, "because only by living in harmony with God's creative design do we find deep and lasting fulfillment."
Martin is best known for promoting greater acceptance of active homosexuality, criticizing the Church for lacking a more "welcoming" attitude. Martin also refuses to criticize same-sex marriage or preach on the need for chastity for active gays. After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its June 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage, Martin took to Facebook to write, in part:
Love means: getting to know LGBT men and women, spending time with them, listening to them, being challenged by them, hoping the best for them, and wanting them to be a part of your lives, every bit as much as straight friends are part of your lives. Love first. Everything else later. In fact, everything else is meaningless without love.
There was no condemnation of the Court ruling, but plenty of scolding of the Church for failing to understand homosexuals.
Martin has also criticized the language of the Catechism calling same-sex attraction disordered, urging that the language be changed to indicate that homosexuality is merely a "differently ordered" sexuality.
"Martin is right that people with same sex attraction should be met with compassion, respect and sensitivity," wrote Fr. Dwight Longenecker in June, "but it is surprising that he doesn't mention the difficult call to celibacy that Catholicism expects."
Martin admits he deliberately left this teaching out because "the Catholic Church's stance on the matter is clear," adding, "I am no moral theologian and did not want to enter into a discussion about church teaching on sexual activity."
Responding to this failure, Sarah explained in his op-ed, "For the unmarried — no matter their attractions — faithful chastity requires abstention from sex."
"With God's grace and our perseverance," he added, "chastity is not only possible, but it will also become the source for true freedom."
Sarah reminded his audience a key fact omitted from Martin's book: homosexual acts are "gravely sinful and tremendously harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them."
"People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity," Sarah insisted, "especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the Church about this complex and difficult topic."
Martin hit back in a response published the same day in America, where he is editor-at-large, accusing Sarah of ignoring "the immense suffering that L.G.B.T. Catholics have felt at the hands of their church."
Rejecting Sarah's characterization of his book as a critique of Church doctrine, Martin countered, "Building a Bridge is not a book of moral theology nor a book on the sexual morality of L.G.B.T. people. It is an invitation to dialogue and to prayer ... ."
Even so, Martin has been quick elsewhere to criticize the Church for failing to catch up with the times. Defending his book in June, he wrote that "in many ways the Catholic Church is today where the rest of Western society was in the 1990s. While many sociopolitical entities are accepting of L.G.B.T. people, in many places in the church that is not the case."
Martin accepted a Bridge Building award from the condemned New Ways Ministry (whom he approvingly cites from time to time on social media). New Ways, which promotes active homosexuality, gay marriage and female priests, has been condemned numerous times by the Vatican and is forbidden from speaking in dioceses around the country.
It was over such controversial positions that Martin was recently disinvited from being keynote speaker at the October gala for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, after outraged knights complained to leadership.
Sarah is among the very few prelates who have publicly called out Martin for his pro-gay ideology. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois has also rebuked the Jesuit, whom he says "gets a lot wrong."