Saturday, September 2, 2017

Who is Right: Cardinal Sarah or Father Martin?

As Christians, we have been given a very specific job to do on this earth:  proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God and bring people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ so that they can be cleansed of their sins and given a new heart.  In the words of Our Lord (Matthew 28:19-20):
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
These are the three steps in the order given to us by Jesus Christ:
  1. Make disciples of all nations
  2. Baptize them
  3. Teach them to obey everything commanded by Jesus Christ
There is a reason why this is the order specifically given to us by the Founder of Christianity. If this order is not followed, we will fail in our mission. Unfortunately, many people, including priests and bishops, have turned this order on its head. As a result, many people who could have been saved have instead been lost.

One who seems to have confused the proper order is Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.  Cardinal Sarah tends to be very rigid in his approach, and believes in the philosophy of "love means no holding back on condemning people's sins."  This was the thesis of his op ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "How Catholics Can Welcome LGBT Believers."  Thanks to Father John Zuhlsdorf, we can read the entire op ed.

Cardinal Sarah wrote this op ed in opposition to Father James Martin who feels the first step in approaching the LGBT community is with non-judgmental love, compassion and acceptance. However, the title of Cardinal Sarah's opinion piece would seem to indicate that he and Father Martin are not talking about the same thing.  While Father Martin does want to minister to those in the Church, his mission is also to reach out to those outside the Church. Cardinal Sarah's title specifically references LGBT believers. Yet, at the same time, the title of the article speaks of *welcoming" these LGBT *believers*. Why would we have to "welcome" them if they are already a part of the Church? If there was any way I could, I would really like to ask Cardinal Sarah if he is talking about reaching out to those inside the Church or outside of the Church. That makes all the difference.

However, since he does use the word "welcome", I am assuming His Eminence is talking about approaching those outside of the Church or those who are still unsure of the Church and have not made a total commitment.

In the first paragraph, His Eminence speaks of what it means to "reach out effectively to a group in need." His answer is to follow the commandment of Christ given at the Last Supper: “Love one another, even as I have loved you.”

That is very interesting. When we read the Gospels and take particular notice of how Our Lord approached sinners, we never find him talking to them about their specific sins unless the sinner himself brings it up.

One of the greatest examples of evangelization is Christ's approach to the Samaritan woman at the well. He opened the conversation by merely asking her for a drink of water. Her defenses immediately went up because he was a Jew and Jews didn't talk to Samaritans, especially Samaritan women. And so her response to Our Lord was, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (John 4:9).

Jesus responded to her by elevating the conversation to a new level. But he did so not by condemning her for her sins, but by telling her he had something to offer her: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (Verse 10).

We, as Christians, really need to take note of this. When we approach those outside of the Church, or even those in the Church who are caught up in sin, we should do so in a positive manner, letting people know that we have something that they need. Then they will actually want to listen to us. Sinners were drawn to Christ not because he was constantly giving them a laundry list of their sins, but because he LOVED them. They felt total love and acceptance by Our Lord no matter how sinful their lives may have been.

Unfortunately, this is not how Cardinal Sarah defines love.

Cardinal Sarah starts out by defining loves as follows: "To love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in the truth." Well, that sounds good on the surface, but how does His Eminence break this down?
“For this I was born,” Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “to bear witness to the truth.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects this insistence on honesty, stating that the church’s message to the world must “reveal in all clarity the joy and demands of the way of Christ.”
When Cardinal Sarah says the Church's message must "reveal in all clarity the joy and demands of the way of Christ," he is saying that we must proclaim people's sinfulness to them and demand that they change.  He feels this is how we will draw people to salvation in Christ.  As he further states:
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.
Cardinal Sarah has jumped immediately to the third step in preaching the Gospel with no real attention paid to the first two steps:  proclaim the message and then baptize the people.  We must be given a new heart and mind - we must receive the Holy Spirit who will change our stony hearts into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).   It is only then that people will be able to truly listen to and live by the commandments of Jesus Christ.  Without the Holy Spirit, the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, as St. Paul told us in I Cor 1:18.  Demanding obedience from those who are not guided by the Holy Spirit will do little more than ensure that they will reject the Gospel.

Cardinal Sarah tells us his approach in the following statement:
In her teaching about homosexuality, the church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions. First there are the people themselves, who are always good because they are children of God. Then there are same-sex attractions, which are not sinful if not willed or acted upon but are nevertheless at odds with human nature. And finally there are same-sex relations, which are gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them. People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church about this complex and difficult topic.
This is all good and right for those who have been baptized and are following Jesus Christ.  If these are the people about whom Cardinal Sarah is speaking, then I am in total agreement with him.  But this will never work with those outside the Church.  The Cardinal here is trying to distinguish between good people and their bad actions.  I sympathize with this approach somewhat, but for those who are SSA, this just comes off as condescending.  They don't see their life style as somehow apart from who they are as people.  I am not arguing as to whether this position is right or wrong.  I am just saying that it is what it is, and we have to go from there.  The Cardinal's approach will not draw people to the Church but only push them further away.

Cardinal Sarah also refers the reader to a book by a Catholic, Daniel Mattson, entitled, "Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace,"  Daniel Mattson is very involved in the Courage Apostolate, which is comprised of those already in the Church.  Again, this is all good for those who have already committed their lives to Jesus Christ.  But this is no help at all to those outside of the Church.

In the first part of the 20th Century, our Lord appeared to St. Faustina and told us that we must reach out to people with his mercy:

People are hurting very badly in our world. They are lost and they don't know which way to turn. Being human, they naturally gravitate towards whatever makes them feel the best. Our Lord told us that the best way to draw them in is to bring them to His Mercy.
“I am love and Mercy Itself. There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted – it increases. The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate, because I Myself take care of it.” (No. 1273)
“'Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy.'” (No. 301)
“All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.” (No. 1507)
"As often as you want to make Me happy, speak to the world about My great and unfathomable mercy."  (No. 164)
“I have opened my Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. Sinners will attain justification, and the just will be confirmed in good. Whoever places his trust in My mercy will be filled with My divine peace at the hour of death.” (No. 1520)
If we really want to reach people, this is what we will be preaching, just as our Lord commanded St. Faustina less than 100 years ago.  This is what will draw people to the saving message of Christ's Gospel.  Once they have actually received God's forgiveness and mercy, then is the time to talk about getting their lives straight.  But if someone is drowning, that is not the time to give him swimming lessons. First you have to pull him from the water.

Father Martin did respond to Cardinal Sarah.  In the article, Father Martin actually has some praise for the Cardinal's article:
In comments to America, Father Martin called Cardinal Sarah’s column “a step forward,” noting that the cardinal used the term “‘L.G.B.T.,’ which a few traditionalist Catholics reject.”
However, Father Martin notes that the Cardinal missed "a few important points including a failure to acknowledge 'the immense suffering that L.G.B.T. Catholics have felt at the hands of their church.'"

Father Martin also made it very clear that he is in complete agreement with Church teaching:
The cardinal describes Father Martin, who was appointed by Pope Francis to a Vatican communications commission earlier this year, as “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regards to sexuality,” a designation the Jesuit rejects.
“Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed inaccurately states that my book is critical of church teaching, which it is not. Nor am I,” Father Martin said. “Building a Bridge is not a book of moral theology nor a book on the sexual morality of L.G.B.T. people. It is an invitation to dialogue and to prayer, and I’m sure that Cardinal Sarah would agree on the importance of both.”
I definitely have problems with some of Father Martin's approach.  I am very wary of his alliance with New Ways Ministry and Sister Jeannine Gramick.  I think he takes his cause too far.

But I feel that Cardinal Sarah's approach is much more damaging to souls because it actually pushes people away from the saving truth of Jesus Christ. Cardinal Sarah is putting the cart before the horse, and when you do that, no one gets anywhere. We must follow the lead of our Holy Father. Speak to people of Jesus' love and mercy. Just as Christ did, offer them that Living Water which satisfies all thirst. Bring them to Christ. That is our job as Christians. You, as a human being, cannot change anyone's heart, not even your own. But with God, all things are possible.


  1. Is Fr. James Martin a heretic per se?

    1. That is not a judgment for any laity to make, not even Michael Voris.

    2. Has Father James preached any OBJECTIVE heresies? No human being can properly judge his soul, but...

    3. Way above my pay grade. I don't make those judgments about anyone. That is the responsibility of the Church.

  2. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following URL:

    1. I can understand what Fr Martin is saying. He sees two people who seem intensely devoted to each other and how can that be wrong? There is nothing wrong with two people, even of the same sex, who love each other. But the sexual aspect of that relationship can never be right. I don't believe that Fr Martin is condoning the sexual relationship but is saying we should reverence that love that these two people share.

    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following URL:

  3. Cathoic in Brooklyn, Michael Voris has challenged Father James Martin to a debate. If you don't believe me, hold your nose and check out the following URL:

    1. Father Martin will never give Voris so much as the time of day.

    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, should Fr. Martin even bother accepting Mr. Voris's challenge?

  4. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following URLs:

  5. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following URL:

    1. I have heard others refer to the Holy Spirit in the feminine before, and I don't like it. But the fact is there is neither male nor female in Kingdom of God. There is no sex. So while I do not like referring to the Holy Spirit as "she"' it is not actually wrong.

      There was no sexual act involved in the conception of Jesus Christ. To imply that there was, which is what Voris is doing when he says this makes Mary a lesbian, also says that Mary was not a virgin. So who is the real heretic here?

    2. Mary is often referred as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Calling the Holy Spirit female in light of Mary being referred to as the Spouse implies bad theology.

    3. You have a valid point. As I wrote, I don!t like this practice.

  6. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following URL/link:


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