When the latest book by the Rev. James Martin, one of Catholicism’s most well-known advocates for legitimizing homosexual activity, hit the shelves, it immediately caused an uproar within the Catholic Church, setting priest against priest and even bishop against bishop.
In “Building a Bridge,” published in June by HarperCollins Publishers, the Jesuit priest calls on Catholics to embrace the LGBTQ community and treat people with “respect, compassion and sensitivity.” While long known for his support of the LGBTQ community, his book intensified an increasingly rancorous debate within the Catholic Church over whether its millennia-old proscription against homosexual activity should be changed.
For conservative clerics and laity, Martin is a heretic; for progressive clerics and laity, Martin is a hero.
In response to Martin’s book, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal arguing that the Church cannot back down on its teaching of chastity – especially in regards to the LGBTQ community.
“He [Martin] repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality, while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers,” Sarah writes. “For the unmarried — no matter their attractions — faithful chastity requires abstention from sex.”
He added: “This might seem a high standard, especially today. Yet it would be contrary to the wisdom and goodness of Christ to require something that cannot be achieved.”