September 16, 2017 — In the wake of Theological College, a seminary affiliated with The Catholic University of America, cancelling a talk by Fr. James Martin, SJ, Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, the president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., and Fr. John Cecero, SJ, Fr. Martin’s Jesuit provincial, issued a statement of support for him and his new book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”
Fr. Matthew Malone, SJ, president and editor in chief of America Media, where Fr. Martin serves as editor at large, also issued a statement of support.
Although Fr. Martin’s talk to Theological College was scheduled to focus on Jesus and Ignatian spirituality, in recent weeks he had been subjected to attacks in social media and in print in response to “Building a Bridge,” which calls for welcoming LGBT Catholics in the church.
Responding to the cancellation, Bishop Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego, wrote in America magazine that the attacks on Fr. Martin expose a cancer of vilification that “is seeping into the institutional life of the church.”
“The concerted attack on Father Martin’s work has been driven by three impulses: homophobia, a distortion of fundamental Catholic moral theology and a veiled attack on Pope Francis and his campaign against judgmentalism in the church,” Bishop McElroy wrote. “The coordinated attack on ' must be a wake-up call for the Catholic community to look inward and purge itself of bigotry against the LGBT community.”
“Building a Bridge” has received praise from many in the Catholic Church, including Bishop McElroy; Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark. Cardinal Tobin said, “Martin’s inspiring new book invites church leaders to minister with more compassion and reminds LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.”
For its part, The Catholic University of America said that the seminary’s decision was made independently of the university and that it “does not reflect the University’s policy on inviting speakers to campus, nor does it reflect the specific counsel received from the University and leadership.” Catholic University President John Garvey said, “Universities and their related entities should be places for the free, civil exchange of ideas. Our culture is increasingly hostile to this idea. It is problematic that individuals and groups within our church demonstrate this same inability to make distinctions and to exercise charity.”
Read the statement below from Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, and Fr. John Cecero, SJ:
Father James Martin, SJ, is a faithful priest, best-selling writer, and a respected member of the editorial staff at the Jesuit-run America Media.
His most recent book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” is an important publication for our Church and the people of God to whom we minister. All of Father Martin’s books are written with the full consent of his religious superiors and in conformity with Catholic Church publishing guidelines. “Building a Bridge,” which was reviewed by the Censor Librorum of the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus, received an Imprimi Potest from Fr. Martin’s provincial, declaring its suitability for publication.
Fr. Martin is a meaningful voice in our Church both in the United States and throughout the world. His recent appointment as a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications affirms the power of his work, which is a tremendous tool for both preaching the Gospel and for evangelization.
Very Reverend John Cecero, SJ Very Reverend Timothy Kesicki, SJ
Provincial, USA Northeast Province Jesuits President, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S.