Dear Mr. Nelson,
In response to your blogpost here is an email I sent to
Carl Olson, over at Ignatius Press, who had expressed some of the same
concerns that you had. I hope you will be able to post it in some way,
or link to his site. Please accept my prayers for all the good you do
for the church.
Text of the letter to Carl Olson:
Thanks for your gracious and thorough response to my initial post about the situation in Hingham. I'm always happy to respond to you, and hope that your readers--even those who think, falsely, that I'm in "open warfare" with the pope--will profit from our conversation. Believe it or not (and there will be those who don't believe it, but so be it) I was just in the middle of rereading Pope Benedict's "Jesus of Nazareth," on a train en route to a parish talk when I got your note alerting me to your response. I'm surely not in "open warfare" with the Holy Father, as anyone who has read any of my other writings (or blogposts) will know.
In any event, I'm happy you provided the full text of the pope's comments, which are indeed more nuanced than I had described. (I had read them of course but didn't quote from them and probably should have in my initial post on "In All Things.) That was a helpful addition to the conversation. And I also agree that one can reasonably make a connection between abortion and other "contraceptive mentalities," as you point out, which lead to the degradation of life or even death.But I still, even after reading your thoughtful post, believe that to link (as some of our bishops have begun to do) abortion and same-sex marriage as two equivalent dangers, even two of the most "insidious" dangers facing the common good, simply flies in the face of what we're talking about.
Abortion involves the taking of life. So does, say, war or the death penalty or even some of the deeper forms of poverty (where poverty leads to starvation and death). But same-sex marriage simply does not. Yes, it is an important issue that the church should be addressing, but my larger point is that linking those two up is not helpful for a discussion of "life issues." If you are looking for something with the same moral urgency as abortion, then it should be something that actually leads to physical death. Which same-sex marriage assuredly does not. When we raise the issue of same-sex marriage to the same level as abortion then we will, I believe, undercut the credibility that we have on life issues. For people see that the one topic is simply not as grave, and, once again, if we are concerned about an actual threat to physical life, then we should be vociferously opposing war or the death penalty.
In short, abortion leads to physical death; same-sex marriage does not. Linking the two, or raising them to the same level of moral urgency, simply muddies the waters, and, in point of fact, weakens our opposition to abortion.
And I've not even begun to speak of the importance of treating both the same-sex couple in Hingham, Mass., with, as the Catechism states, "respect, sensitivity and compassion," and the child with care. I've done that in my blogpost, which readers can read. Instead, I'm focusing here on the topic of your blog: that linking.
I hope this helps to explain a bit my objections about what I feel is a unhelpful strategic decision to link the two.
(Rev.) James Martin, SJ