Cdl. Napier Subtly Rebukes Fr. James Martin

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  •  February 12, 2018   

Praises Jesuit priest's critics on Twitter

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DETROIT ( - An African cardinal is making clear he disapproves of Fr. James Martin's pro-gay agenda.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, jumped into the celebrity Jesuit's Twitter feed over the weekend. Martin was attending an LGBT conference at Loyola University in Maryland, and tweeted about his excitement over the event.

"I'm meeting so many amazing young people, and learning so much [at] the 'Ignatian Q' conference at @LoyolaMaryland today in Baltimore," Martin wrote. "It's an inspiring gathering of LBGTQ students and their advisers from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in this country. AMDG."

Napier entered the discussion by praising the work of authors Daniel Mattson and Avera Maria Santo — two Catholics who have specifically written against Fr. Martin's pro-LGBT stance.

"En route to Vatican for Council for the Economy meeting," Cdl. Napier tweeted. "I've spent a good deal of time reading 'One Man One Woman' by Dale O'Leary and piece by Avera Maria Santo, 'You're hurting me Fr James'. Looking forward to reading 'Experience me' by Daniel Mattson. All eye-openers!"

Mattson wrote to clarify the title of his book, to which Cdl. Napier responded: "Sorry, 'Experience me' is by Avera Maria Santo. Daniel Mattson's is: 'Why I don't call myself gay. How I reclaimed my sexual reality and found peace'!"

Napier added in a follow-up tweet, "Reading you guys' experiences reopens the debate for me, and I hope for those Catholics who are looking for testimonies of the truth rather than ideological dissertations!"

Father Martin did not respond to any of Napier's tweets.

In October, Avera Maria Santo authored an article titled "You're Hurting Me, Fr. James Martin," which details the way Martin is harming those, like Santo, who suffer from same-sex attraction.

"Above all, I am a person, not a homosexual person," she wrote, referring to Fr. Martin's categorization of individuals as "gay." "There are only three kinds of persons: Divine, Angelic, and Human. The human person cannot be reduced to his or her experience. My identity is a beloved daughter of God, and can't be lowered to anything else."

Read our FAQ on Fr. James Martin

She continued, "I feel as though you're hesitant to say that acting on same-sex desires is wrong. It is inherently wrong, Father. God's design for conjugal love does not include the joining of man-and-man or woman-and-woman. It simply does not work."

Father Martin is known for refusing to answer the point-blank question whether he believes same-sex acts are intrinsically disordered, as stated in the Catechism. In an article challenging Martin, Princeton Professor Robert George explained that such questions posed to the priest are always met with silence.

In response, I did not get a "yes." Or a "no." Fr. Martin fell silent, though we had just been exchanging tweets. It turns out that he always refuses to answer such questions or engage those who ask them. He simply refuses to say what the Church in fact says, namely, that though we must love those who experience and even act on same-sex desires, homosexual acts are wrong and sinful — morally and spiritually harmful to those engaging in them. 

Santo wrote in her article, "There's an identity crisis ravaging the LGBTQ+ community right now because we base our identities on who we're emotionally and/or sexually attracted to. We are so much more than that!"

Calling my sexual desires 'objectively disordered' is not 'needlessly cruel.'

She went on:

Calling my sexual desires "objectively disordered" is not "needlessly cruel." If I desire something that is not going to contribute to my holiness, then it needs to go unfulfilled. I cannot understand and bring to fulfillment God's plan for me by "satisfying" a desire that can lead to my demise. We all have desires that shouldn't go fulfilled; we all what things that we can't have. Me being able to sleep with a woman is no different than that. It's not cruel, it's what I need to hear, it is the truth.

Daniel Mattson is author of the book Why I Don't Call Myself Gay, which details his journey out of the gay lifestyle and back to heterosexuality. "His lifelong search for happiness and peace comes full circle in his realization that, above all else, what is true about him is that he is a beloved son of God, loved into existence by God, created for happiness in this life and the next," reads part of the book description.

Mattson has also been a vocal critic of Fr. Martin. "By not calling those folks in the 'LGBT' community to conversion, Father Martin is not respecting them enough, nor is his version of respect, compassion and sensitivity compassionate enough," he said in an interview for the National Catholic Register last year. "Does he really believe that the Church's understanding of human sexuality honors and respects human dignity? It seems he questions that."

He continued, "I came into the Church precisely because of the Church's teaching on homosexuality in its fullness and completeness — because it was the only thing that made sense of who I am as a son of God."

"As far as respect, compassion and sensitivity, the times when I have received a lack of respect and true compassion were in the confessional," he commented, "when a priest told me to go find a boyfriend. That's where I have experienced lack of respect and lack of compassion, because it was rooted not in sensitivity, but in sentimentality."


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