Fr. James Martin on marriage, sexual morality and the Church’s teachings: a solution to the puzzle

Oct 6, 2017 by

by Professor Robert George, The Public Discourse.

For quite some time, Fr. James Martin, SJ, puzzled me, as he puzzles many Catholics still. He insists that he does not reject any of the teachings of the Catholic Church, yet when it comes to the question of marriage and same-sex sexual partnerships, he talks as if he does.

Now the Church’s teaching on these matters could not be clearer, or longer standing, or more firmly established by the Church’s magisterium, which follows the Scriptures: Marriage is the one-flesh (“conjugal”) union of husband and wife, and non-marital sexual acts—be they heterosexual or homosexual—are inherently immoral. Yet those who reject the Church’s sexual ethic and want it to change think Fr. Martin supports their view. And those who affirm the Church’s sexual ethic think Fr. Martin opposes their view. People on both sides hear in Fr. Martin’s words approval of homosexual sexual relationships—relationships that the Church teaches cannot be approved.

So the questions are: Does Fr. Martin in fact reject the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage? And if so, why does he insist that he “do[es] not reject the teachings of the Church”?

It’s a puzzle. But I think it has a solution.

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