Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another letter.

Fr. James Martin S.J. asked me if I would post the following letter he wrote:
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


  1. Perhaps the Holy Father linked abortion and same-sex marriage because they both lead to spiritual death, and isn't that more important than anything?

  2. That-a-boy LarryD

  3. 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).

    As of the most recent update of this FAQ, the estimated total number of abortions in the U.S. is over 46 million.

    There have been 3,000 deaths of Americans in Afghanistan. Let's say that there are 100 times that many civilians and enemy combatants. That's 300,000.

    There are less than 100 executions each year in the U.S. Lets say there are 10,000 times that many in the world. That's 1,000,000.

    Most of deaths due to starvation are due to political corruption. But let's say there are 1,000,000 a year, or 27,000,000 since 1973.

    Oh, I forgot to include abortions in countries other than the United States, didn't I?

    The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the statistics "arm" of Planned Parenthood, says there are about 40,000,000 abortions a year, or

    That's over 1,000,000,000 (one billion) abortions a year since 1973.

    And you want to compare that with public executions and our little police actions around the world?

  4. Fr Martin,

    IF any one of your ancestors was a practicing homosexual, foregoing marriage and procreation, then all of your ancestors in your family's lineage from him to you would be non-existant, including you. Homosexuality wipes out an entire lineage of subsequent people from the world! Think about that. This is the very same thing that abortion does.

    AT least in war, as horrible a thing as it is, men who die in combat can and most often do, leave behind children to carry on their name and genes into the future generations.


  5. OH, and I should add that this point is not applicable to priests and religious who live celibate lives. For these, they choose to forego marriage and children for a higher purpose, as a gift to God, Who is ultimately the One Who has called those indiviuals to that vocation, which ultimately all fits into His Big Plan of the World. Practicing homosexuality has no such purpose or intent other than selfish gratification (and the same can be said for all forms of sterile and contraceptive acts). Separating the possibility of procreation from the the human sexual act serves only to the undermine and stifle God's plans for the world.

  6. Anonymous9:51 PM

    I doubt Fr. Martin thinks contraception is immoral, either.

    It would be so much easier if all of these people would come out and just say what they really think.

  7. I think Larry D has a very good point about spiritual death, when talking of the link the Pope made. However, maybe I am missing the point here, but if a man is homosexual, and has been born that way, he isn't going to be having kids anyway, is he? Does the Catholic Church teach that homosexuals should be marrying women regardless and pro-creating? I mean, exactly what does the Church ask of a homosexual man, in order for him to be in line with Church teaching and be saved? And where are the Catholic women who will agree to be married to a homosexual man, knowing he is not able to desire them, but is managing to supress his other instincts? They still ask, during the vow taking of a marriage if there is any reason the couple should not be joined, don't they? Is being married to a homosexual a reason for annullment in the Catholic Church? These obedient chaste homosexual men are bloomin' saints if you ask me, and have to put up with being told they are stopping children being born! Or does the Church teach that same sex attraction is a choice? To accuse these men (and women), of decreasing the population seems a very ill thought out accusation to me. but...please teach me, if I am wrong. I am listening......

    Oh, and one other question to Catholic HETERosexuals, could you marry someone you did not desire them, and have kids with them, in order to be in line with Church teaching and therefore increase the population (if indeed that is church teaching)or would you perhaps be more sympathetic to your own plight than that of others?

  8. @Shadowlands: It is the insidiousness nature of homosexuality, not the individual, which is responsible for cutting off generations from being born.

    Like a disease, homosexuality spreads when it is embraced and accepted in a society. By engaging in homosexual behavior, the individual contributes to the spread of this disease. Those who have been infected are very much to be sympathized with, but are called to live a chaste life as all single people are called to do. They are not to be forced to propagate, that is a ridiculous assertion, if you were being serious and not merely sarcastic.

    It is a heavy cross, no doubt. But so are a lot of things that people are afflicted with that keeps them from marrying and contributes to their remaining single.


  9. Georgette said

    "They are not to be forced to propagate, that is a ridiculous assertion, if you were being serious and not merely sarcastic."

    I most certainly was not being sarcastic, by the way.

    you also wrote; (I'm assuming you are the same Georgette here, sorry if mistaken)

    'Homosexuality wipes out an entire lineage of subsequent people from the world! Think about that. This is the very same thing that abortion does.'

    If homosexuality is a life 'choice', then yes, homosexuals do, culpably, through their actions, wipe out a generation. If it is a state of being that they are born into, then my point is, even chaste homosexuals would be forced to 'wipe out' a generation because their natural instincts would prevent them from getting married and having children according to Catholic definition of the latter. They wouldn't be guilty of this state of childlessness, they would be subject to it, and miserably so, in many cases, I would imagine. There is no question of a homosexual having children, if he follows catholic teaching on (a) homosexuality (he must live chastely) and marriage (to worship his wife, with his body) to the full, is there? So let's not blame homosexuals for the lack of children. They were, it appears, never destined to have children, according to the tenets of our faith, regarding marriage etc. This as I say, is something to be suffered by them and deserves sympathy, not berrating from heterosexuals.

    The example and message of practising homosexuals,and indeed all sexually active people of course, is another issue and I determine to follow Church teaching on this, to the best of my ability (greatly assisted by Our Lady) but to suggest that either active or chaste homosexuals are robbing us of future generations, to me, seems ludicrous. And I am being quite serious here, not sarcastic. There is also talk of not letting homosexuals become priests, nothing to do with me, and my opinion on that holds no authority of course. I follow the rules, I don't make them resounding repeated question is...Where can a homosexual man or woman feel welcome these days, within the Catholic Church and truly know and embrace the freedom available in Christ, particularly through Our lady, I believe? It really is little wonder that isolated souls seek out the open armed loving welcome (albeit pseudo watered down versions) elsewhere. As Catholics we must present the living and active faith that we proclaim so eloquently and liturgically to ALL men, especially the marginalized.

  10. Funny how we can be so theoretical and clear about things like: homosexuality-not-homosexuals, spiritual-death-not-physical-death. I mean, doesn't warfare bring about spiritual death too? The selective linking of same-sex union and abortion and the purposeful neglect of war and death penalty not only disappoint me but sicken me. Well, what do I expect? The so-called pro-life is really against-pro-choice. I don't even know why I bother to make comments here anymore.

  11. Brother William said; 'I don't even know why I bother to make comments here anymore.'

    Brother William, your comments are important, because you are, and people need to learn and open up with each other, in order to gain understanding of complicated issues. It's a rocky path, but it's a path that needs treading by someone, for the sake of the Kingdom. Your comments are footprints to follow and reason with (in my unlearned opinion anyway).

  12. BW - That was me yesterday - I thought, "I don't know why I bother to post anything here any more."

    I feel bad you go away sad or angry. I mean that. I don't mean to close anyone off here or demonize others. God bless you and let's keep praying for one another.

  13. For what it's while out doing errands I heard on the radio about an article in the NYTimes (can't remember when or who wrote it; it was definitely not those favorable to Christianity) that indicated that the push for "same sex marriage", is not, in fact, a push for "equal treatment" under the law; it is a drive to change the understanding of what marriage is, in other words, a "revolutionary" (my word) kind of movement.
    The speaker cited that "no=fault" divorce back in the 1970's changed the way Americans looked at marriage: it is not permanent. And this change, from marriage between a man and a woman to a commitment between either man/woman, man/man, woman/woman will further change the understanding of marriage, because, ta-da: same=sex unions are often "open" arrangements...the commitment of the two people often include sexual activity outside of the union.
    I think that is what is dangerous in all of this; it's not about denying anyone their rights; it's about the over-all picture of what "marriage", in its traditional sense, is all about.
    The analogy with abortion fits, I believe; the acceptance of legalized abortion changes the moral compass; some life is not respected, some life is held to be "up for grabs" or according to the convenience of the individuals involved.
    I think that is what Pope Benedict was getting at: abortion and same-sex unions change the "moral landscape"...both actions involve a direct attack upon human society, human rights (for the unborn and for the common good of society in the case of same-sex unions) and the defense of the God established moral law (regardless of one's faith or even lack of faith).
    That probably sounds pretty "philosophical", but I think there is more to this than meets the eye.
    Just a thought.

  14. Father - you are correct - I forgot about the changes no-fault divorce brought about - that coupled with contraception helped produce what we see. The Holy Father is speaking about the big picture - the long term. He is not condemning individuals. People have to get over themselves - I doubt the average person ever really considers the 'common good' - it is all about individual rights these days. That is why I thought a Jesuit should know better.

  15. Terry: I was taught moral theology by Dominicans..can ya tell?<)!

  16. Dear God:Please give me patience, as I respond to Fr Martin SJ. Fr. Martin asked about the connection between homosexualtiy and abortion. I supplied him with some answers. I re-directed him to his deceased confrere, John Hardon SJ:

    "Thirty years ago, Paul VI appealed to the conscience of the world when he warned about "the consequences of practicing artificial birth control." His warning was prophetic. What have been the consequences of contraception in one once-civilized nation after another?

    They have been myriad. But I would give especially seven, which may be listed in sequence.

    Breakdown of the family; and
    Murder of the unborn.

    Fr Hardon explains all seven. I cite the two issues of interest:


    The relationship between contraception and homosexuality is seldom adverted to and, in homosexual circles, openly denied. Yet they are connected by the most basic laws of human society.

    Contraception contradicts the most fundamental desire of the human heart: to give oneself in total generosity to another human being. Marital relations are meant by God to satisfy this desire between the married spouses. But if women selfishly withhold this generosity from men, men will-tragically look for such generosity in other men. And women will look for it in other women.

    As you read some of the homosexual and lesbian literature, you are moved to tears at seeing how a contraceptive society has begotten a homosexual society. In their desperate search for love, men will turn to other men and women to other women. To say they are being deceived is only to emphasize the pity of a sodomistic culture that is starving for love. Contraception deprives married people of the love that they expect to find in a marriage between two people of opposite and complementary gender.


    I have saved abortion as the last of the seven deadly consequences of contraception. This, too, is a law of human behavior. Abortion follows contraception like the law of gravity.

    This is obvious. As people come to equate sexual pleasure with the self-gratification, there is no limit to their lustful pride. Contraception has taught them to have their own way. They will stop at nothing to have their way, not even murder of their unborn offspring.

    Respect for human life requires selfless love of human beings. As a nation is nurtured on contraceptive self-indulgence, it becomes a nation that kills innocent children – if they are an obstacle to the self-gratification of those who brought them into existence.

    It has been correctly said that Humanae Vitae divides the Catholic Church into two periods of history. The Church will survive only among those who believe that contraception is deadly to both Christianity and the promise of a heavenly reward. Normally thirty years is a short time. But in this case it has been long enough to prove who are still truly Catholics. They are those who believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. "If you love me," Jesus said, "keep my commandments." The single most tested commandment of the Savior today is that contraception is fatal to".

    I posted the link. I would not dare to post excerpts. Excerpts of this sort are deleted at America as the staff is heavily comprised of homosexual Jesuits.

  17. Maria to the rescue! That is just perfect - thanks very much.

  18. Sorry the last sentence of Hardon's should read: "The single most tested commandment of the Savior today is that contraception is fatal to the true faith and to eternal life."


    "Why has same-sex marriage been equated with abortion? Are the two really equivalent "threats" to life"?


  19. You are welcome, Terry. Lord, help me keep believing...

  20. For those interested in reading Fr. Hardon's entire article: Contraception:Fatal to the Faith and to Eternal Life, go to--

  21. “One must be realistic and acknowledge with a deep and pained sentiment that a great part of today’s Christians feel lost, confused, perplexed, and even disillusioned: ideas contradicting the revealed and unchanging Truth have been spread far and wide; outright heresies in the dogmatic and moral fields have been disseminated, creating doubt, confusion, and rebellion; even the liturgy has been altered. Immersed in intellectual and moral “relativism” and therefore in permissiveness, Christians are tempted by atheism, agnosticism, a vaguely moralistic illuminism, a sociological Christianity, without defined dogmas and without objective morality” (L’Osservatore Romano, February 7, 1981).

    Why am I made to think of America Mag and In All Things Blog...

  22. Shadowlands, Brother William:

    The fact of the matter is that homosexuality is a disorder. We do a grave disservice to the individual to suggest that it is normal and good. History shows that when a society embraces homosexuality, it is the beginning of the end of that society. The reasons are self evident. However, many still do not see the evdience, or choose not to. IT goes to show how deeply Secular Humanism/Relativism has infiltrated into the minds and hearts of people in this world, even those deep within the Church.


  23. And to answer your idea that it is absurd to mention the fact that homosexuality cuts off future generations:

    IT is self evident. The fact that the society has embraced homosexuality as a norm and a good helps to promote this disorder, which perpetuates more homosexuality. History is clear on this. The individuals who are caught up in this epidemic of homosexuality are victims of this disease run rampant and to be sympathised with and loved. (Which means helping them to break free from its slavery.) However, the fact remains that many of those who are afflicted with this disorder today would not be, if they were not raped or exposed to it as children/teens. It is a sad state that these individuals are suffering from this, but again, there are MANY single people who are dealing with their own reasons why they remain single, not just homosexuals.

    The Church does not change its teachings based on the current fashions of the day which are always fickle. These teachings are based on God's laws, FOR OUR OWN GOOD. The Church does not make them, She only upholds them.

  24. Speaking of homosexuality being a disorder, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta calculates that active male homosexuals decrease their life spans by 20 years through drugs, smoking, drinking and unsafe sex.

    Cigarette smokers only decrease their life spans by eight years or so.

    We ban cigarettes; we are commanded to celebrate homosexual perversions.

  25. Maria - I think I will post the JPII statement. Thanks!

  26. God has given me a strong love for homosexuals, I believe it is His own heart He has shown me. I repetitively state that I agree with Church teaching on sexual behaviour, of all people.
    The only message I have any right to speak to any man or woman, regarding their sexuality, is my personal experience ( as opposed to my opinions which change with the wind ) and how beginning to obey the Church's teachings, through praying the Rosary gave me an affirmation I had sought in the world and never found. That is my measage of hope to all souls. Because of certain encounters with homosexual men over the years, one of whom gave me a bible that his friend had owned, and underlined a passage before taking his own life, because he felt such an abomination before God, plus two relations of mine who are gay, there has been a profound effect upon the way I began to encounter people struggling with SSA. For some reason, it is their insecurity in their standing before God, that they open up to me about, ( not to say all have this, just the people I have met)and it is only when they begin to perceive that God has determined that eternity would be incomplete, without their creation, that they begin to trust and open up to the possibiliity of a relationship with Him, according to His will for their lives. If this makes me unpopular or deemed to be going against Church teaching, so be it. I keep meeting people who desperately need to know that God loves them, intensely and so much that He sent His only son to die for us. I need to hear it myself, what with this ongoing drink problem of mine, albeit abated, one day at a time. It was love for sinners that made God the Father act, let's just check our own hearts to make sure the same love is motivating us, when we speak of and advise about other's sins. There but for the Grace of God........

    Power to the powerless!!

  27. Shadowlands - my sentiments exactly - you stated this so beautifully. May God continually sho his love for you and hold you close!

  28. Terry: I attempted to respond to an article that Shulz posted about her lesbian daughter by posting Hardon's comments about HOMOSEXUALTIY and ABORTION. They were deleted, of course. I have never forgotten a statement Hardon SJ made: anyone who is in a state of mortal sin is an agent of the enemy. Anyone reading America Magazine would do well to remember this...


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.