Crazy? Angry? You decide and I couldn’t care less!

Catholic Colleges Should Ignore James Martin, SJ

Whew! I’m finally getting around to this LONG load of sinister. Fortunately for you all, I’m going to snip a whole lot, because the whole first part is preaching to the choir. It’s a big “duh”. Maybe you’ve got to say it for a secular crowd but being loving and caring is a Catholic thing. And, yes, I would think any faithful Catholic college could be loving towards anyone. Sadly he still went on and on but I stuck it out until the end where it just got more outrageous.

How can Catholic colleges welcome the L.G.B.T. person?

James Martin, S.J.

February 03, 2020

<lots of snipping>

That’s our topic: How Catholic colleges can respond to L.G.B.T. issues on campus.

Given the importance of this topic, in addition to relying on my experience for this talk, I contacted Catholic college and university presidents, administration, faculty, staff, students and trustees to ask for their insights. So what I am presenting are not simply reflections based on my ministry with L.G.B.T. people, but the shared wisdom of dozens of people affected by this issue, who work in both the groves of academe and the vineyard of the Lord.

How can Catholic colleges respond to the needs of L.G.B.T. people? It is often a contentious topic. But it need not be. Because at heart it is about something that Jesuits call cura personalis: care for the whole person, care for the L.G.B.T. person, care for people like Khadija.

It need not be, until you muck it up.

The primary question for Catholic higher education, therefore, is not primarily a legal one, an ecclestical one, a financial one or even an academic one. It is a spiritual one: how to best care for people who have probably doubted they are loved by God, feared their parents will reject them, questioned whether they could find a place in the world, and, if they are Catholic, have certainly doubted or despaired about their place in the church, and who, because of all these things, may have contemplated suicide or self-harm.

Catholic schools’ primary focus should be on educating and saving souls. Again, big “duh”. Did we really need Fr. Martin to tell us this? Honestly, an oracle he ain’t.

L.G.B.T. people should not be seen only as victims—they bring joy, energy and life to our world and our campuses. They are God’s beloved children, created in the image of God, and so they bring unique blessings, talents and graces to your community, precisely as L.G.B.T. people. Still, when you encounter an L.G.B.T. person, your starting point must be that you are meeting someone who has suffered and may still be suffering.

Wait. Why should they be seen as victims at all? This is where he always gets it wrong. Those suffering from same-sex attraction are suffering with what we all suffer with, our human frailty. We’re all just suffering from original sin in our own unique ways. It doesn’t make us victims, although, of course, some people are. Instead of telling us how we have to consider one class of people as victims and not fellow members of the Body of Christ trying to work out our own salvation, maybe he should start encouraging people to see everyone as struggling just like we are. Honestly, for a guy who accuses us all of being self-righteous, he sure seems to miss the point that approaching people like, “Oh, poor person, they’re ‘L.G.B,T’” might not be the way to go. We should look at everyone as if they are every bit as precious in God’s eyes and struggling like the rest of us to rid ourselves of sin and spend eternity with God.

So, to my same-sex attracted readers, let me offer you a different message. You are not your sins and proclivities, hopeless, helpless, a victim of your attractions. Heck! You are just like me. You’re struggling to overcome original sin and all of the other sin that’s entered the world since then. It’s hard to follow God. It’s hard to be chaste. It’s hard to overcome our sins, but let’s struggle together. Don’t give in to those who tell you that you can’t do it, shouldn’t have to do it, should embrace your sin, etc. They’re speaking on behalf satan.

Imagine a group of refugees suddenly matriculating at your school. You would not treat them the same way as you did other students. You would naturally see them as people who have undergone an ordeal and would adjust your approach to them. In fact—and speaking as someone who has worked with refugees—that is not a bad analogy. L.G.B.T. individuals often feel like refugees from society and almost always refugees from the church, and that’s including the non-Catholic individuals: excluded, discarded, mistreated, marginalized, persecuted. At the same time, like refugees, they bring a wealth of knowledge, perspective and experience that can enrich the academic experience and makes everyone’s experience of a truly “Catholic” higher education a stronger one.

Again, my dear same-sex attracted readers, don’t fall for this. He desperately wants you to believe you are victims. Don’t get me wrong. Bullying (to summarize his list) is bad. We all know that. So many are bullied for so many things and in so many ways. It’s wrong, but we need to overcome our own personal bullies. From personal experience, I can tell you that it can be miserable and can even be a physical danger in this day and age, but I’m here to tell you it can be overcome. Usually the situation is temporary, people can grow and where you are today is not where you will be tomorrow. Why aren’t we told this? I don’t look at refugees as victims. I look at them as people who escaped their victim-hood and are trying to have a better life. People aren’t refugees from the Church. The Church is a refuge for them. This has been the epic misunderstanding FOREVER. “Oh, the Church with all its rules and regulations is soooooo oppressive.” Instead, we need our clergy to show us that Her teachings are a help to us, not a hindrance. Following those rules and teachings are the only way we will be truly free from the real oppression of sin. So, Father Martin, get over your savior complex and start acting like the Church teachings are our path to heaven.

That is how I invite you to see L.G.B.T. people: as gifted and graced people who are also in need of your care, support and advocacy. But how to care, support and advocate for them? To that end, and drawing on insights from leaders in higher education, let me share some best practices when it comes to L.G.B.T. people on Catholic college campuses.

What does “gifted and graced” mean? Is this something that only “L.G.B.T.” people can be? And advocacy? What are we supposed to be advocating for? I mean, seriously, what? Shouldn’t it be the same thing everyone should have? If not, exactly what is it?

1. Begin with the God-given dignity of the human person. This is fundamental. One college dean at a university on the East Coast said: “Catholic colleges and universities should be at the forefront of affirming the humanity and dignity of their L.G.B.T.Q. members (including students, faculty, alumni/ae and others associated with the institution). All else flows from this: theological reflection, moral judgment, discernment of how to respond to their needs. Concrete measures flow from this, too.”

Good luck with that. They can’t even affirm the dignity and humanity of the unborn. It’s crazy to have a Jesuit lecturing the rest of us on affirming the dignity and humanity of all people when they ditched “papaya abortion training” on the Georgetown campus ONLY after people made a ruckus about it. So, spare us the lectures and take care of your own house first.  We’ve got the dignity of each human life down. We don’t need your help.

If you want to truly advocate for the dignity of the human person, you should see to it that consciences are PROPERLY formed. That’s the only way to ensure it. Don’t believe me? There’s a LARGE section in the Catechism on the dignity of the human person and the role conscience plays in that. You’ll never know that because Fr. Martin isn’t going to cherry pick those parts. Here you go.

“The measures he suggests dovetail with the catechism’s call for “respect, compassion and sensitivity.” Calling people by the names and pronouns they choose is part of respect; providing L.G.B.T.-inclusive benefits reflects compassion; and including sexual orientation and gender identity in nondiscrimination policies shows sensitivity. A faculty member at another college in the Northeast said simple acknowledgement is important. “It is,” she said, “remarkably rare for those in leadership positions within Catholic institutions to positively acknowledge L.G.B.T.Q.+ people within their communities.” Indeed, in Catholic settings, L.G.B.T. people may have never heard themselves spoken of in anything other than a negative sense. So begin with their dignity. They should be cared for not because they are Catholic or not-Catholic but because we are Catholic.”

Fr. Martin doesn’t even do this. Somehow he missed the memo. It’s not L.G.B.T. anymore.  It’s now L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+, and they’ve probably added a few more since I wrote this. (“S.J.”, perhaps?) We’ve really got to stop insisting that people ignore biological realities.

It’s rare that Catholicism is spoken in anything but a negative sense nowadays, and usually by you, Fr. Martin. Please. Besides that, here we have more muddling between the attraction and living the lifestyle. It’s shameful. No, Catholics don’t think being same-sex attracted makes one a sinner, but we are not going to say that the same-sex LIFESTYLE doesn’t involve sin. Catholicism 101. Sin is sin, no matter who is doing it. Those engaging in sin (including pre-marital sex, birth control, gluttony, drugs, porn, etc., etc., etc.) are not being ostracized by the Body of Christ. They are the ones causing a rupture within it, because sin begets sin.

Even in the face of opposition (from online campaigns, but also in some cases donors and trustees), Catholic schools should be known for their acceptance of L.G.B.T. people as a visible sign of how much we value their God-given dignity.

Stop. Stop. Stop. Honestly, lying is a sin, Father. No Catholic on the planet should be known for their acceptance of a LIFESTYLE that harms one’s body, mental health and soul. In fact, this notion is in direct conflict with the dignity of a human person that you so often falsely tout. A person’s “God-given dignity” has ZERO to do with a lifestyle choice, especially one that goes against the image and likeness of God.

2. Never forget how much L.G.B.T. people have suffered. A few facts will give us context. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate as straight youth; and they are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide. Forty percent of transgender adults have considered suicide; and of those, 92 percent did so before they were 25. So in many situations, L.G.B.T. issues are also life issues.

This starts with the fact that they are living a lifestyle in conflict with the person God made them to be. You’ve lulled them into dualism that allows them to believe God made them to be in conflict with the body He created. Your little lectures to the contrary don’t help the conflict and turmoil they experience. You telling them sin is peachy compounds it.

Let’s consider harassment. According to a study at U.C.L.A., 85 percent of L.G.B.T. students (young people between the ages of 8 and 18) have experienced verbal harassment; 58 percent of L.G.B.T. youth have felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; 43 percent have felt unsafe because of their gender identity. Twenty-seven percent of L.G.B.T. students have been physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation and 13 percent because of their gender identity. It is even worse for transgender students: 54 percent reported being verbally harassed; 24 percent physically attacked; 17 percent reported leaving a school because the mistreatment was so bad.

Catholicism is the answer to all of this, not the cause! Again, you’re blurring away, Fr. Martin. I find it interesting that you are somehow insinuating this all takes place only at Catholic schools.

This says nothing about their families. Rejection by families is one of the chief reasons for homelessness among L.G.B.T. youth. According to that same U.C.L.A. study, 40 percent of homeless youth served by services identify as L.G.B.T. Consider other problems faced by L.G.B.T. young people who are not homeless but whose parents have cut them off—financial insecurity, for example.

I’m just curious, do you advocate for parents to give money to their child if they are, say, doing drugs? I don’t. I’m going to cut their money off as fast as I can. Likewise, if my child was engaging in promiscuous behavior in my house, I also wouldn’t support them. In the end, it’s going to be their choice whether to obey or run away. Any way my children are harming themselves isn’t going to be supported. Are parents supposed to stop insisting their children lead moral, healthy lives because their kids might not be happy with it? Maybe, Fr. Martin, you should realize that sometimes parents have to make gut-wrenching decisions about what they are going to tolerate in their homes to protect themselves, their other children, and the children who may leave home because of it. Again, if LIFESTYLE isn’t the real issue here, why would any parent simply toss their kid from the house for being same-sex attracted? Give me a break. I’m sick of hearing how horrible parents are to their children for simply not rubber stamping everything they do. It’s ridiculous. And your endlessly telling us about it is you telling us to just accept the homosexual lifestyle. Just admit it.

Now consider how L.G.B.T. people are treated in the Catholic Church. Every day I receive messages from L.G.B.T. people recounting rejection, insults and persecution from the church’s ministers. One woman told me that when she came out at her college, the priest in campus ministry said, “I’ve prayed my whole life never to meet a gay person.” Another young man told me a pastoral associate told him that since he was gay—not sexually active, just gay—that he could no longer receive Communion. L.G.B.T. youth also are aware that the church has targeted employees in same-sex marriages who have been fired from jobs, when others who also do not follow church teaching are largely left alone.

Conjecture isn’t helpful here. If somebody is wrongly treating someone, go to their superior on that person’s behalf. So tired of hearing how awful parents and priests are. Your savior complex apparently is alive and well. If you want us to believe it’s parents and priests that are the main ones doing the bullying, rather than peers, prove it.

And we have not even talked about the undercurrent of “conversion therapy” that runs through our church like a polluted stream. Thoroughly discredited by psychiatrists and psychologists, banned in many places for the havoc it wreaks on people, it still is used, promoted and praised in subtle and not-so-subtle ways in too many dioceses, parishes and schools. Judging from recent conversations I have had, it is still taught and supported in some seminaries. All this compounds the suffering of the L.G.B.T. Catholic.

When you are dealing with an L.G.B.T. person, you are dealing with someone, to quote Isaiah, “acquainted with grief.”

“Conversion therapy” is a broad term. It can range from lobotomies to counseling. While I doubt lobotomies or shock therapy are going to bring about “conversion”, I have no problem with counseling, especially if the person wishes to make a lifestyle change because, as I’ve said, we are not our attractions and inclinations. I also have no problem with parents seeking Christian counseling for their teens experiencing SSA. Controversial? Deal. The reality is that many people suffering from same-sex attraction have experienced some sort of sexual trauma in their youth. And, with the suicide rates, I’m definitely for some counseling. Fr. Martin would have you believe the suicide rates are simply from “not being accepted.” I live in the most accepting place in the world. Guess what? Suicides are still happening here.

3. Welcome L.G.B.T. youth groups, programs and centers.As a Catholic community, we need to be clear about our welcome. One faculty member at a Midwestern university said an L.G.B.T. outreach group on campus “should be the floor, not the ceiling.” Almost everyone mentioned this. The recently retired president of a university in the Northeast said, “It’s important to facilitate the formation of an L.G.B.T. support group. It’s important for gay students to know that they are not alone, that there are others like them on campus, and for them to form a support community.” He also rejected the idea that these groups are usually out to challenge church teaching, and he is correct. “They are much more interested in mutual support and community building.”

Hey! What about creating Catholic groups, programs and centers??? Wow! There’s a thought. How little respect does Fr. Martin have for the Church that “Catholic” isn’t his first thought? Want people not to feel alone, isolated, martyred? Don’t make them so by isolating them in some sort of subclass of people. Don’t make them feel alone, ostracized, etc. Make them feel like there are more people out there with whom they can struggle to become the holiest person possible.

Why not afford them the same respect and resources you do for other groups? The dean of student development in a college in the Northeast said, “We need to be even more pro-active in our outreach to students in these groups—they have higher rates of depression, anxiety, relationship violence and suicide.” In essence, these are programs for at-risk youth.

The real question is, why are you allowing all these groups to wander alone instead of in one, big, Body of Christ??? I’m not talking “chess club.” There shouldn’t be a multitude of spiritual clubs AT A CATHOLIC COLLEGE. Remember, that’s supposedly who this talk is aimed at. There could be Catholics struggling against secularism, and Catholics struggling to be the holiest people they can be. If the non-Catholics in the school want to join, grand! They’ll learn what Catholicism is all about. That’s kind of what a Catholic school is for.

The four years spent in college is an important experience for all students, but especially for L.G.B.T. youth, who are not only discovering their identity and navigating their relationship with parents but hoping to discover their own value. Outreach programs help them to do this. L.G.B.T. resource centers, like the large one at Georgetown University (which are still rare), are an even better idea. And objections to gay-straight alliances, outreach programs and resource programs are almost always off the mark. Simply by comparing them to other programs shows up the double standard. They promote sexual activity? No they don’t. Besides, you could argue, so do co-ed dorms. They promote rowdy behavior? No they don’t. Besides, you could argue, so do football games.

LOL! What makes you think we are in favor of co-ed dorms on Catholic campuses??? As a mother, I can tell you that we’re not worried about rowdy football games. We’re worried about sexual deviancy and immorality. And, are you trying to say that the “L.G.B.T.” programs have a rippin’ chastity program? Please. That’s altogether absent from most Catholic colleges these days, much less those with “L.G.B.T.” clubs.

Be creative with programs designed to welcome: One college sponsors an L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ mixer with students, faculty and staff, including allies; another school has a Lavender Graduation, where L.G.B.T. faculty and staff wear purple stoles over their academic regalia.

Yeah, those sexual inclination graduation ceremonies are soooooo necessary. Again, how about a CATHOLIC mixer? Geez. You know, the thing that’s supposed to unite those at a CATHOLIC college?

4. Bring together your entire school. The whole school needs to come together on an issue that is often seen as the province of campus ministry or the counseling center. Khadija’s story shows how well things can work when the entire school understands the unique needs of its L.G.B.T. members. One dean said: “No one part of the institution, like an L.G.B.T. center, can meet the needs of L.G.B.T.Q. students. Training is necessary for people in all areas of the school: academic advising, student health, counseling and psychological services, campus ministry, resident life, athletics.” Also, bringing together the whole school and building relationships makes it easier to communicate during times of crisis over a hot-button L.G.B.T. issues.

Again, being a CATHOLIC school should be the answer.

Can your whole school be a place where L.G.B.T. people feel loved? To answer that, ask yourself: Would they feel comfortable coming out at your school? Often an L.G.B.T. faculty member is the first one to whom a student comes out. But faculty members, said a former president of a large university, may be unconnected to the other professional staffs, like counseling, psychiatric services and campus ministry. “Faculty,” he added, “are more likely than other student-centered professionals to assume the church has a blanket condemnation of these students. Does the top administration signal to the entire school that the position of the church is pastoral accompaniment?”

Nobody is saying that students with SSA should be condemned. Well, nobody but you. Stop making these straw arguments to set yourself up as a savior.

More fundamentally, can the entire school be a place where L.G.B.T. people are safe? One former president of a college in the Northeast said: “Priority always has to be given to the safety and well-being of the students. If a gay or trans student were attacked, I would never want anything I said to have given encouragement to the attackers, even unintentionally, by criticizing gay or trans students, their lifestyle or their activity.”

Sigh. Again, Catholics aren’t for violence. Next, if this happens at a Catholic school, then the school is failing to pass along basic Catholicism. And the biggie, how would anyone be offended by a gay or trans student unless they were living the lifestyle??? That’s really what this comes down to. You expect those who hold the Catholic beliefs on sexuality dear, and are presumably paying a bundle to be at a Catholic school, to accept what? Immorality on campus? Let’s say that you’re talking about Georgetown, you know, the epic Jesuit school (or any of the other ones) that left its Catholicism on the table and walked away a long time ago. Do you have a problem with SSA people being harassed and beat up? And how about your other regular run of the mill universities with “gay and trans” communities? Huff Po actually did a piece that’s worth reading (and I don’t say it often). Or is it happening at, say, Christendom or Thomas Aquinas College? You know it’s not.  So, what’s the difference? Could it be authentic Catholicism??? Of course it is. The instances of generally un-Christian behavior are always going to be lower on these types of campuses because immorality is pretty much frowned upon no matter what the action. Immorality breeds immorality. There is no dignity of the person when they are reduced to a sexual object, and G-town and the like have done nothing to promote true dignity of the person.

5. Remember that words matter. So do signs and symbols. Many people tend to see L.G.B.T. issues as political matters, weapons in “identity politics.” The words we use (the pronouns, for example), or more broadly the way we talk about L.G.B.T. people in the Catholic world, often turns into a battle. You can still be criticized even for using the term “L.G.B.T.”

But for the L.G.B.T. person these issues are something else. One student, Maddie Foley, wrote in Notre Dame’s student newspaper, “Please, in the name of gentleness and mercy…if you are still opposed to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the church, choose your words carefully and remember that there are real, complicated, dignified, made-in-the-image of God people hearing them, people you haven’t witnessed in prayer, people that have been wounded by the church, people that love God, people who have wept and wept about their place in God’s kingdom, people who will be far more affected by your words about gay rights than you will ever be.” Questions about words, terms, phrases and even the way we discuss these issues have real-life impacts beyond some imaginary “agenda.”

Again, Notre Dame is just another school that turned in its Catholic identity a while ago.

This is a good place to draw on your school’s institutional mission. One diversity officer from a Southern university founded by a religious order said, “The institutional mission tells us…how to treat our L.G.B.T. students and colleagues, just as Catholic teaching does.” And of course we can’t assume that all the students are Catholic. One gay college professor in the Northeast said, “What does it look like for Catholic schools to welcome L.G.B.T. students from other (or no) faith traditions? The way that we treat L.G.B.T. people, Catholic or not, speaks volumes to non-Catholics about how we treat everyone.

As an aside, L.G.B.T. Catholic students come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many have left the church because they felt rejected or never thought of the church as a home at all. Some may be comfortable with their own sexuality and see no contradiction between their belief and sexuality—whether they follow church teaching on chastity. (You could make the same observation about sexually active straight students.) These L.G.B.T. youth are happy in campus ministry, at Mass and in the church. Still others are wrestling with church teaching. Finally, many struggle with what some theologians call “Christophobia,” the fear of Christ and the church brought on by generations of hatred and homophobia. Self-loathing is a real issue.

If someone feels comfortable with themselves when they don’t follow the Church’s teachings on chastity, there is a BIG, BIG problem, no matter what their inclination. It’s not homophobic to champion the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. Self-loathing becomes a problem not because of Church teaching, but because of a conscience that knows how it should behave but chooses a contrary lifestyle. Again and again, sin causes the rupture with the Body of Christ.

Beyond words, what signs and symbols show them that they are loved? How about L.G.B.T.-affirming spiritualities, theologies, liturgies and safe spaces? Are L.G.B.T. people fully welcome at Mass? Remember: Lex orandi, lex credendi. How we worship shapes and shows what we believe. How we study does as well. Are their experiences part of what they study? This means including their stories, histories, contributions to society and struggles in their classes.

Visible and supported L.G.B.T. faculty and staff members are important symbols too. The former president of a medium-size Catholic university said, “I found the gay faculty at my university some of the most supportive and engaged in the mission of the institution.” L.G.B.T. faculty can and do, he said, serve as role models. This shouldn’t be required of them, but they often do this.

What the heck is are “L.G.B.T.-affirming spiritualities, theologies and liturgies”?!?! We are talking about Catholic schools, right? “L.G.B.T.” is not in the Catholic lexicon.

One campus minister at a large university in the Midwest pointed out an even more visible symbol: the statue of Dr. Tom Dooley on his alma mater Notre Dame’s campus, an image of a gay man renowned for his generosity. Raise up L.G.B.T. people for them to see.

He isn’t a renowned Catholic because he was homosexually active. He was renowned for his charity. Considering people renowned for their sexual sins or inclinations is ridiculous. I mean, really, “Yay he engages in homosexual activity and he cured cancer!” or “He engaged in heterosexual sexual activities and he ended slavery?” See how bizarre it is? Quite frankly, he would have been a truly amazing person if not for the immorality in his life.

Remember that you may be offering students, for the first time in their lives, a space where words support them, signs encourage them and symbols help them to re-evaluate their whole stance with the church, with themselves, with their families and with God.

Support them in what??? This is the same question Fr. Martin’s been asked a thousand times. Never elucidating is very telling.

6. Stand with them. Money issues and fear are always poor excuses not to stand with the marginalized. There is a more severe cost of not standing with L.G.B.T. people: suicide, depression, loss of community, loss of faith. It would be the same with students of any minority.

Sometimes you find that standing with them yields unexpected benefits. One dean of a university in the Northeast said that while you may have trouble with “reluctant trustees, bishops or other constituents” over the moral case, the practical case is strong. Thirty-one percent of millennials described themselves in a recent poll as other than fully heterosexual, and many applicants will be more curious about the level of L.G.B.T. acceptance, especially at Catholic schools that they may presume are not welcoming to L.G.B.T. individuals. And the more people who come out, the more this issue affects every family, every person, every faculty member, every trustee. Also, the rest of millennials and Gen-Z who do not identify as L.G.B.T. are watching closely to see how their friends and their brothers and sisters and siblings are being treated.

And? Are we to say “Go team!” when it comes to them acting on their inclinations? Sorry. I for one love them too much. I’m not going to say “Go for it!” when I know the physical, mental and spiritual costs of activity outside the realm of sexual morality. You know what? Some people are really addicted to porn. Not going to give them the thumbs up for pretty much the same reason. Some people are addicted to food. Not going to tell them to eat away. Some are addicted to being skinny, not going to give them the thumbs up to anorexia. Some really love having sex outside of marriage. Not going to say “Yay!” to them either. Why? Because all of these sins lead to death, spiritually, mentally and physically, and more often than not, all three.

A faculty member who was also on the board at a medium-sized college told me a story. The students wanted to form a gay-straight alliance, but some trustees were worried. When the president announced it at the board meeting, there was dead silence. Here is how the trustee described what happened next: “A big C.E.O. type hunches up his shoulders and leans in, forcefully sweeps his gaze and looks everyone at the big table in the eye and says, ‘Frankly I’m surprised it took this long.’ No one wanted to mess with him. Turns out his daughter was gay and had just adopted his grandchild with her partner.” Bottom line, said this faculty member: “The administration won as much as they lost.”

So are you condoning same-sex relationships with this last paragraph??? Are you saying this is what gay/straight alliances condone? I know the answer, but you’ve always seemed dodgy on this one.

And firing married L.G.B.T. faculty is clearly not standing with the L.G.B.T. person. The reason usually given for the firings is that these employees are not supporting or conveying church teaching. But you could say the same for many Catholics: those who use birth control, those who don’t attend Sunday Mass, and so on. You could also say it about those who aren’t Catholic. Will you fire the Protestant employees who don’t believe in papal authority or the Jewish employees who do not believe in Jesus? Targeting married L.G.B.T. employees is not enforcing church teaching—because you are enforcing it selectively. Rather, it is engaging in discrimination.

Nope, it’s not standing with homosexual activity or activism, and it is also back to blurring the line, as per your usual, on public sins vs. private sins.

So even if it costs, stand with them. Be prophetic. Be like Jesus. Because if we’re not trying to be like Jesus, what’s the point?

Great.  Go and sin no more. Just like Jesus said. I’m all for it.

7. Work closely with your local ordinary. The former president of a university in the South said that it was essential to keep your local bishop up to date about what is going on in the school. I’m sure this point does not need belaboring. This president said, “They may or may not be sympathetic, but they hate to be surprised.” It’s often not an easy task, and there can be misunderstanding. That’s why dialogue and openness are important, especially on this issue. I would invite those who have diocesan bishops who are not as sympathetic to see your role as an advocate. You may be the only person who has ever had a face-to-face meeting with this church leader to advocate for L.G.B.T. people. What message do you want to share with him?

And hopefully your local ordinary will educate you as to why Fr. Martin is someone to run far away from.

8. Educate yourself and your school.The kind of education that occurs around L.G.B.T. issues is multifaceted. First, the best education is simply listening to the experiences of L.G.B.T. people. If we start with experience, it will help to inform all else: ethics, spirituality, theology and so on. Second, educate yourself on the full range of church teaching about L.G.B.T. people. Even educated Catholics tend to think that the catechism includes simply a restriction on same-sex relations and same-sex marriage. It does, but there is also the invitation to treat them with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” and the restriction against “unjust discrimination.” But even this is too narrow. Church teaching on L.G.B.T. people is more than a few lines in the catechism. Church teaching is the Gospel and Jesus’ message of love, mercy and compassion, especially for those on the margins. That is the heart of church teaching.

Yes, by all means, listen to those who are SSA, but don’t just leave them there. Bring them to the true beauty and freedom that the Church’s teachings on sexual morality give us.

Speaking of church teaching, a former president of a Midwestern college now working in Rome said, “It’s important to note how much the Congregation for Education has essentially trusted US Catholic institutions on the L.G.B.T. front.” He said that they know that the schools are helping these students. “Individual bishops may be upset, but the Congregation is not inclined to make a fuss.”

I’m just curious why so many names are not named.

Third, there is a great deal you can read on your own about topics that are still confusing and that you may not feel ready to share with the school. Recently I confessed to the parents of a child who identifies as “gender queer” that I didn’t understand that term. In response, they gave me a book called Gender Queer, which helped me understand that rather new experience.

Finally, offer education programs for your whole university. “Safe Zone” or “Q Advocacy” workshops are opportunities for students, staff, faculty and community to learn more about sexuality and gender issues, which often help people do the following: Set and clarify vocabulary on L.G.B.T. issues; provide lectures or activities that serve as a space for discussion on issues of bias and identity; offer opportunities for people to ask questions; empower people to feel involved in issues that face an increasing number of students. Let your college, already a place of learning, be a place of learning on this complicated issue as well.

Gee, I noticed you didn’t recommend Fr. Mike Schmitz’s “Made for Love”.

9. Listen to transgender people in humility. This is the leading edge in L.G.B.T. issues in Catholic higher education, and I am no expert. But few people are, including psychiatrists and psychologists. The medical, scientific and psychological data about this phenomenon are complex. We are all learners, so we should all be listeners

Last year, I was invited to discuss this topic with the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education after they published their statement, “Male and Female He Created Them.” During my meeting with Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, the prefect of the congregation, and his undersecretary, Friedrich Bechina, F.S.O., I read aloud letters from Luisa Derouen, O.P., a Dominican sister who has worked for 20 years with transgender people, from a mother and father with L.G.B.T. children, and from a transgender man. With the congregation’s permission, I can share that they spoke about the context and purpose of their document, which was focused on Catholic schools. And I can say that Cardinal Versaldi expressed sorrow if people thought the congregation was accusing people of being ideologically distorted and that he wanted to share the congregation’s care for transgender people and his desire to continue dialogue to reflect on the transgender experience.

And no matter what you might hear from angry donors or ill-informed websites, transgender people are not the result of a “gender ideology.” Ray Dever, a Catholic deacon with a trans child, noted this in a superb article in U.S. Catholic magazine: “Anyone with any significant first-hand experience with transgender individuals would be baffled by the suggestion that trans people are somehow the result of an ideology.” Nonetheless, the position of some Catholics is to bind up this complicated personal experience with some political agenda. So I beg you to listen and learn—from trans people and from reliable scientific studies. Also, remember that while many college-age kids have already come out—especially in large cities—trans kids still need accepting support groups.

Oh my gosh. I forgot, you are the only one who cares about people, and people who are against transgenderism are just hateful, hateful, hateful. Really, Fr. Martin? I realize that you live in an ivory tower, but the rest of us do not. Gender dysphoria is a widely recognized term in the world of psychology. It is indeed a dysphoria. Could it possibly be that we love our fellow man enough to not foster a dysphoria? Could it also be we don’t want men/women in bathrooms with children of the opposite sex?  Could it be that we don’t believe in making boys nationals stars for being transgender exotic dancers? The list of people damaged by this issue goes on and on.

Speaking of listening, I asked a Catholic transgender man with a Ph.D. in theology, who transitioned during his senior year in college, to suggest a few tips. Here they are: Make it easy, he said, for students to live in housing that matches their gender identity. Essentially, they should be offered a housing option that helps them feel safe. Second, he said, ensure the availability of some gender-neutral bathrooms. Not all but some. Third, he suggested ensuring that school health insurance should cover transition-related services. Medical transition, he said, is a recognized condition. In general, covering services does not significantly raise the cost of health insurance, since few students access these services. Fourth, he suggested ensuring that students can change their names/gender on records, and that faculty members use the student’s preferred name and pronouns. Trans people have often told me how difficult it is to continually hear the wrong pronoun. Sister Luisa said: “Addressing a person in the way that they have told you is simply good manners. Failing to do so is a reflection on the speaker, not the trans person.” One philosophy professor simply passes out a sign-in sheet on the first day of class to ask about pronouns.

And what of the people who are not comfortable living with members of the opposite sex? People suffering from gender dysphoria should be given preference over my, say, 18-year-old daughter? Doesn’t it matter if she feels safe? Thanks. Same goes for “gender neutral” (no such thing) bathrooms? To hell with the women or men who are uncomfortable with this. They just have to deal. And medical transitioning??? Johns Hopkins won’t even do this anymore because it didn’t help the underlying psychological issues but now you want to make colleges pay for what? Surgeries and hormones?  Honestly, who can say they love their fellow man and then give the thumbs up to hormones being pumped in at large doses that aren’t supposed to be there. The amount of mental and health issues you are championing is insane. Sadly, you’ll end up bearing the responsibility for your “advocacy.” And lastly, no, we should not encourage dysphoria. And what about Pope Francis? Are you going to dismiss his teaching in this area?

There are also ways of moving ahead that don’t upset everyone. One vice president for student affairs in a college in the Northeast spoke of having the student’s new name on the diploma but retaining the original name in the school’s records, until a legal name change was undertaken. One college for women has this explanation on their website:

In furtherance of our mission, tradition, and values as a college for women, and in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, the College will consider for undergraduate admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth. The College will continue to use gendered language that reflects its mission as an undergraduate college for women.

The level of insanity is staggering.

As an aside, controversy over gender-neutral bathrooms is less important than the safety of these people. Sister Luisa noted that the idea that the transgender people or L.G.B.T. people will somehow assault straight kids is backwards. It’s the L.G.B.T. kids who feel unsafe. It’s not without controversy, but trans youth have been through enough. Let them at least go to the bathroom in peace. Overall, though, when it comes to trans people on campus, a simple plea: Listen to them.

Well, it’s already happened, so? Do we really think it’s the 10-year-old girls who are going to assault the man insisting he’s a woman? The children are always the victims in our twisted world.

10. During a crisis, discern and make a preferential option for the L.G.B.T. person. Here are three things to begin with during a crisis over LGBT issues. Avoid boilerplate responses to hot-button topics. Find out what’s going on yourself and exercise empathy. And recognize that attacks about L.G.B.T. issues are often attacks on other things—higher education, some political party, the 1960s, Vatican II or even Pope Francis.

Some topics seem inevitably to incite controversy: drag shows, gender-neutral bathrooms, gender-neutral pronouns. The former president of a college in the Midwest said, “Few issues are as combustible in the Upper Midwest as the trans person and bathroom access.” As an aside, he also noted that the church loses “lots of these kids who have been raised Catholic” who draw upon Catholic social teaching to support their opposition.

Uh, yeah.  Are you giving all these things a pass, Fr. Martin?

Let me share common some responses to crisis management on L.G.B.T. issues from leaders in Catholic higher education. First, keep your diocesan bishop informed. Second, approach these things from an educational point of view. Can you have a panel or a presentation on what drag shows mean or on why gender-neutral bathrooms have become so important? Earlier I mentioned including the stories of L.G.B.T. people and their history in classes. Fostering an environment like that, where the L.G.B.T. experience is integrated into the curriculum, helps the entire school in times of controversy, because the school already sees these issues in a larger context.

Well, he’s really jumped the shark. We’re now supposed to have drag shows on Catholic college campuses and cheer?!?!  Instead, how about we educate the “trans” person as to the fact that God didn’t create their body and soul to be in conflict???

Finally, discern. No one size fits all. Trust that God will lead you to the best decision, which is based on your school, your history, your mission, your student body, your diocese and your bishop. But all else being the same: make a preferential option for those who have few on their side in the church: the L.G.B.T. person.

Wrong. There is a one size fits all. It’s called Catholicism. We are all called to it because God loves us and gave us the Church to be our help and our guide to struggle against sin.  All of us, every day.

The only thing Fr. Martin has right in his whole missive is that same-sex attraction needs to be addressed. We need to step up since we’re actually the people with day-to-day relationships with those struggling. We need to be Catholic, which means we need to love. You can love without approving sin. Don’t let the likes of Fr. Martin and his ilk tell you otherwise. Moms and dads know this well.  I’ve said this before, I’d love to see groups pop up that are focused on struggling together with whatever thing you are trying to overcome in life. Think about it. We need to save our world, and overcoming sin is the only way to do it. And please remember the children. They are always the biggest victims in wholesale immorality, and we’re starting to see the results of a generation being raised in a world that’s completely given up trying to fight against sin.

8 thoughts on “Catholic Colleges Should Ignore James Martin, SJ”

  1. Actually, the person claiming the LGBT label right now seems to be quite privileged. If being browbeaten for ones beliefs should cause suicidal feelings, Christians should be flinging themselves off cliffs right now.

    I don’t mean to belittle the real difficulties people have, but in my area (which is in the Midwest) society seems to be bending over backwards to make this group feel included – and has been for some time. If the suicide rate is high among this group, perhaps it is because they can’t get the counseling they really need, but are only affirmed in their victimhood – in a world where the theme of social media is how much attention and “likes” one can achieve. In this case, Fr. Martin may be getting in the way of people really getting the help they need.

    You are correct – Bishop Barron recently met with Pope Francis and wrote, “The Pope’s fundamental argument was biblical. The book of Genesis tells us that God made the genders distinct and that this difference is key to human flourishing. Whatever seeks to eliminate difference in this arena of life, therefore, is contrary to God’s will.”

    According to Martin, 31% of Millennials are unsure of their sexuality – sounds like LGBT crowds been very successful with messing with people’s heads. And if this group is also more suicidal – then there heads have been messed up for the worse.

  2. I live in Pennsylvania where lists of priests engaging in criminal activities were just released again— more of them being homosexual acts. It is incredibly insensitive to promote acceptance of homosexuality to a Church which is trying to heal from that exact sin! In our seminaries, schools and parishes our priests are dealing with the consequences of the selfish and life-lasting harmful acts by homosexual behavior. Sin has consequences and to advocate for sin is the most unloving and hurtful thing a person can do! Any sexual act that occurs outside of marriage can have lasting negative impact psychologically. Our world is hurting from this and to promote the idea that we should in any way foster a way of thinking that is harmful is equivalent to saying God is wrong— that God doesn’t know what He’s talking about. Sex is not love and sexual feelings are not love. Fr. Martin obviously struggles with this sin a lot or his focus wouldn’t be centered constantly on it! He needs to think about all the hurting Catholics right now dealing with the devastation from the criminal homosexual acts done in the Church!

  3. Excellent rebuttal, just excellent. Such a crying shame that it has come to this–laypeople, actually a laywoman, having to defend the Faith and educate the masses because priests, bishops, and other men in authority are too cowardly to stand up and defend the Truth, especially when one of their own is spreading perdition. As far as fr. James Martin is concerned, Jesus spoke of him in Matthew 18:6-7: “Whoever causes one of these little ones[e] who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”

  4. I read his article… I confess to not making it all the way through. It was LONG. And there was something wrong to me about the “solution to the problem” being so long and complicated. It’s actually simple. Treat everyone the same, just like you said here. It’s actually silly that in the name of “treating everyone equally”, this priest and many others are actually doing the opposite. This isn’t a prescription for unity, it’s a prescription for disunity.

  5. Most large schools are not exactly welcoming and supportive of any student. I never felt wanted, included, valued, etc., when I attended a large, West Coast den of indoctrination. A clueless nonentity of interest to almost no one. Going into counselling at the school service center merely directed me to a number of very bad life choices that I did not have the maturity to recognize or avoid,. One of the reasons that I ended up marrying the wrong person and not graduating. Too bad I couldn’t have identified as one of the Alphabet People: could have blamed it all on that, rather than on the simple truth that I was stubbornly refusing to grow up and learn to adult.Yes, life is hard for those with SSA, etc., but it ain’t necessarily a bed of roses for the rest of us, either.

  6. Hi Mom,

    In my 89 years I have come to know a number of gay people, parents of gay people, and one transgender. My attitude is that most of the commentary about how to treat that large community comes from STRAIGHT people, and the doctrine and oppression comes from a celibate clergy.

    NO ONE MAKING COMMENTS OR PROCLAIMING DOCTRINE SEEMS TO HAVE EVER WALKED IN THE SHOES OF GAY PEOPLE, especially teens and college students who are just growing into their own sexuality, often with terrible experiences. Fr. Martin makes a lot of sense to me, sensitivity to people who FEEL insecure, unwanted, outsiders.

    I personally do reward gay people whose stories hit the media, same sex teachers fired from Catholic schools for marrying their partner of 10-20-30 years. I award them my “Noble Prize,” a TEN ATTABOYS certificate for their difficult stories. You would be surprised at the heartfelt correspondence I get, and I’ve awarded some dozens so far. One went to the Valedictorian at Brigham Young University, who used his valedictory speech to come out to a whole stadium of Mormon parents.


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