Spring Hill College is a Jesuit institution in Mobile that is hosting the celebrity priest this Saturday as its commencement speaker.
The Coalition of Concerned Catholics started a change.org petition in January to rescind Fr. Martin's invitation, calling for "faithful alumni, family and friends throughout this country and across the globe, to call on Spring Hill's leadership to defend the Church by disinviting Fr. Martin."
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, an organization of lay Catholics, also began a petition to rescind Martin's invitation, citing his two past cancellations in October from the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre to speak at its gala event in New York City and from Catholic University of America's Theological College to address an alumni event.
Both petitions cite Martin's attempts to normalize homosexuality, including that chastity is not required of homosexuals, that Catholics should "reverence" gay "marriage, that "transgender" children should be able to register for religious education under their preferred sex and that people who have left the gay lifestyle do not live an "integrated life."
The popular Jesuit also supports a dissident priest, Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., who publicly promotes gay "marriage" and women "priests." Martin has also claimed dissident Sr. Jeannine Gramick, a pro-gay nun who founded New Ways Ministry, a group condemned by the Vatican, should be canonized a saint. He also accused faithful Catholic critics of being "homophobic" and "close-minded."
Martin has expressed his opinion that active gays should be able to kiss during Mass and insists homosexuals are "born that way," and they "can't change." The petitions have both garnered more than 18,000 signatures, as of press time.
Christopher Shea of Coalition of Concerned Catholics speculated to Church Militant that because Spring Hill "is a Jesuit institution and Fr. James Martin is a Jesuit himself, the Jesuits have encircled the wagons around him to promote his ideas on the LGBT community."
Monday, Dr. Christopher Puto, the college's president, reaffirmed in a video interview the school's justification for not disinviting Fr. Martin, remarking"the breadth and clarity of Fr. Martin's writings are remarkable and powerful. The dedication exemplified by his service reflects the commitment of the church to serve those whom society has ignored or forgotten and to bring them into closer communion with God."
The president also claimed that "almost all of our alumni have indicated the great satisfaction, pleasure and pride with our having invited [Martin]."
But Shea admitted to Church Militant that Puto left himself and a number of faithful faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors in the dark last month after refusing to meet with them and hold an academic forum addressing Church teaching regarding homosexuality and chastity. This followed a "pleasant and candid phone call" between Shea and Puto in February.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that homosexual persons must "be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" and under no circumstances can their actions that are "acts of grave depravity," are "intrinsically disordered" and are "contrary to the natural law" be approved.
Puto responded last month to the change.org petition in an email to faculty, staff and students, saying,
There is room in our Church for honest differences in how true followers of Christ understand and adhere to His teaching. All of humanity is created in the Image and Likeness of God, and Fr. Martin invites those of differing perspectives to explore opportunities for increasing understanding through respectful dialogue. That approach most definitely is consistent with the expectations of the contemplative discernment processes espoused in Jesuit teaching.
This contrasts with what Shea considers Puto's lack of belief in "viewpoint diversity" for his refusal to allow for a "free exchange of ideas" in an academic setting while pushing a "false mercy verse faithful Catholic charity" narrative in sticking by the school's invitation to Martin.
False mercy is opposed to sacrificial love since it lessens the reality of sin, sparing others from the pain of criticism or chastisement for fear of being "uncharitable." However, mortal sins if not confessed are deadly to the soul, damning someone to hell.
The mission of the Coalition of Concerned Catholics is to "seek clarity, not confusion; orthodoxy, not obfuscation; apologetics, not apologies; and salvation, not sophistry."