Gotta admit, I thought this was coming days ago. James Martin, SJ must have been busy celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Not surprisingly, albeit delayed, he took to Facebook and Twitter to whine about this one in his usual theologically incorrect way.
Judge Smolenski, 62, was baptized at St. Stephen. She and her nine siblings attended the church’s school from first through eighth grade. Her parents were married in the church in the 1940s. In other words, the judge has been a parishioner for 62 years.
Fr. Martin, apparently, thinks Judge Smolenski has some claim to ownership due to her years there. I would think that acting like royalty in the Church might be a little repugnant to him, but I guess not if said “royalty” agrees with him.
As with all these sad cases, the question is: Why are only married LGBT people being singled out? Is Communion denied to all parishioners who are not following church teachings? That is, married couples using birth control or IVF? Or young people engaging in premarital sex?
For those who missed the story on the latest “martyr” Fr. Martin is referring to, here’s a recap. Thanks to Rod Dreher for the in-depth.
As usual, Fr. Martin is blurring the line between public obstinate sinners and private sinners. I’m pretty sure he’s heard it before, but he’s still going to insist on confusing the laity on the issue. So let me ask him again. Fr. Martin, when you look the average couple in the pew, do you know: 1) if they are even married; 2) what their sexual practices are; 3) if they are divorced and “remarried”; 4) engaging in premarital sex; 5) if they conceived their children via IVF, etc., etc. etc.? Nope. Can look at a same-sex couple and know that relationship is objectively disordered? Yup. Can you look at a judge who PUBLICLY advocates for same-sex marriage, abortion, etc., and deny him/her Communion? Yup. These are all public actions. As I’ve said before, most of us don’t broadcast our sins as something of which to be proud. Those who do move into the PUBLIC sinner arena, which has the added bonus of spreading scandal.
And why are parishes focusing only on issues of sexual morality? Are there no other issues in the moral life? Are those who refuse to pay a living wage to employees denied Communion? How about those who do not give to the poor? Those who do not care for the environment?
Don’t you have any new material, Fr. Martin? You’re getting a tad bit repetitive, so I have to get a tad bit repetitive. First of all, are you in the pews at Fr. Nolan’s parish? How do you know that he doesn’t cover these? Besides, whether he does or not, they do not all carry the same weight. You’re promoting the creepy Cardinal Bernadin seamless garment theory again. I’m reasonably sure that, as with most good priests, Fr. Nolan doesn’t just talk to the laity about what goes on in the bedroom. Honestly, to hear Fr. Martin, you’d think that Fr. Nolan’s parish hears a homily on sodomy every Sunday. Please. Any priest that’s going to give a homily about traditional marriage or sodomy is probably going to cover the variations of the big seven: lust, greed, gluttony, envy, anger, pride, and sloth.
Also, if you want to get a small peek at life in a parish, you should check out their bulletin. Fr. Martin might want to note their help for the poor and refugees. Here’s the current one: http://bulletins.discovermass.com/download.php?bulletin=wn7iTp8iuQ1f1G%2FecBp6eztOMtvxFRE2uqV%2FECO6vnQaDFMz761n57q0YNksU2ZldwDN9quh2g2MjLx6R6yJzmzJwfGKuhnEw5B7aAztLgc%3D
And, here are the recent archives: https://discovermass.com/church/st-stephen-east-grand-rapids-mi/#bulletins Oh my gosh! How does this parish do it? They actually address social AND moral issues! All this time Fr. Martin would have you believe it had to be one or the other! I think the real question should be is why Fr. Martin never addresses sodomy and masturbation?
Moreover, why is it only a “public” act that bars someone from receiving Communion? If pastors chose to, they could easily ask married couples if they are using birth control, or ask young people if they are engaging in premarital sex. Of course, they choose not to.
Well, it seems like he can’t totally ignore the public sin thing. But, uh, what?! Fr. Martin actually suggests a witch-hunt here. That’s not the role of the priest, at least outside the seal of confession and requested spiritual direction. Priests often ask follow up questions to help the penitent make a thorough confession. For instance, if one making the confession says “I watched porn”, the priest might ask, “Were there any other sinful acts involved while viewing this?” Still, all under the seal of the confessional.
All priests are bound to follow Canon Law, and Canon 915 states:
Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
Nowhere in Canon Law does it state that a priest has to go around asking people to spill all their sins. And as far as those who confess sins…
Can. 983 §1. The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.
- 2. The interpreter, if there is one, and all others who in any way have knowledge of sins from confession are also obliged to observe secrecy.
Can. 984 §1. A confessor is prohibited completely from using knowledge acquired from confession to the detriment of the penitent even when any danger of revelation is excluded.
- 2. A person who has been placed in authority cannot use in any manner for external governance the knowledge about sins which he has received in confession at any time.
Also, the Catechism states:
1467 Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the “sacramental seal,” because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament.
And let’s see what Aquinas had to say about public vs. private sinners…
A distinction must be made among sinners: some are secret; others are notorious, either from evidence of the fact, as public usurers, or public robbers, or from being denounced as evil men by some ecclesiastical or civil tribunal. Therefore Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it. Hence Cyprian writes to someone (Ep. lxi): “You were so kind as to consider that I ought to be consulted regarding actors, end that magician who continues to practice his disgraceful arts among you; as to whether I thought that Holy Communion ought to be given to such with the other Christians. I think that it is beseeming neither the Divine majesty, nor Christian discipline, for the Church’s modesty and honor to be defiled by such shameful and infamous contagion.”
But if they be not open sinners, but occult, the Holy Communion should not be denied them if they ask for it. For since every Christian, from the fact that he is baptized, is admitted to the Lord’s table, he may not be robbed of his right, except from some open cause. Hence on 1 Corinthians 5:11, “If he who is called a brother among you,” etc., Augustine’s gloss remarks: “We cannot inhibit any person from Communion, except he has openly confessed, or has been named and convicted by some ecclesiastical or lay tribunal.” Nevertheless a priest who has knowledge of the crime can privately warn the secret sinner, or warn all openly in public, from approaching the Lord’s table, until they have repented of their sins and have been reconciled to the Church; because after repentance and reconciliation, Communion must not be refused even to public sinners, especially in the hour of death. Hence in the (3rd) Council of Carthage (Can. xxxv) we read: “Reconciliation is not to be denied to stage-players or actors, or others of the sort, or to apostates, after their conversion to God.”
But what does he know? Sigh. Fr. Martin, this has been done to death. You’re just not that stupid. The public, obstinate sinner receiving Communion scandalizes the sacrament. Here’s just one more for you.
Lots of people know Judge Smolenski civilly married her long time “partner”. She called the press about this, for goodness sake! That is against Church teaching, yet she’s made it clear she’s going to do whatever the heck she wants. Totally scandalous and privileged, I might add. However, she gave $7,000 to the parish and thinks she should just get special treatment? Where’s all the shock and horror about trying to buy salvation now?!
The answer is often: “Of course. Because it would be unethical to investigate and pry.” Yet in many of LGBT cases, the news of the person’s marriage comes from scouring Facebook pages, from someone else reporting them, or from a priest grilling friends and family members. Investigation and prying seem to be acceptable when it comes to the lives of LGBT Catholics.
Really? I love how “many cases” is thrown out there and we’re just supposed to say, “Oh, OK. Happens all the time to poor LGBTQSJ people.” Again, please. I just checked. Judge Smolenski’s Facebook page is private. Can’t scour it unless you’re friends with her and she’s making it public to you. And, please, refer back to Dreher’s piece. She took her sin public and politicized it. Judge Smolenski being totally caught off guard doesn’t fly unless she’s really, really stupid.
In his important new podcast “Plague,” released today, on #WorldAIDSDay, Michael O’Loughlin reminds us of how the Catholic Church ministered to LGBT people, but also how it targeted them for public opprobrium during the height of the crisis. Have we learned nothing?
Nobody is witch-hunting here. If you’re going to flaunt, you’re the one causing the publicity and scandal. As everyone has pointed out, there’s a difference between those who are repentant and those who embrace their sin like a pet.
The Catholic Church is called to proclaim church teaching. But church teaching is, at heart, Jesus’s message of love, mercy and forgiveness. The church also has rules. But these rules must be applied across the board, not selectively, and not simply to one group of people.
Otherwise it is no longer “church teaching.” It is merely discrimination.
I’m totally for equal penalties for public, obstinate sinners. Are you, Fr. Martin? I kind of doubt it, since you employ reverse “discrimination” all the time. You seem to think the contrite and the prideful should get the same treatment. Soooo many verses fly in the face of that. If someone marches in the Pride Parade, that doesn’t seem to count as sin in your mind. Something about them not accepting the Church teaching so it’s not really binding, or other drivel like that. To even suggest someone is sinning is just being mean, unless, of course, you don’t believe “climate change”. Then, boy howdy, you are probably going to hell. Somehow that’s when hell and sin are something one needs to worry about. Good luck with that.