CV NEWS FEED // Rev. James Martin, SJ, cited British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wedding in the Catholic Church to suggest “same-sex couples” should receive the same “mercy and compassion.”
Johnson married his fiancee Carrie Symonds, with whom he has a child, at the Westminster Cathedral over the weekend.
The Catholic Cathedral told media that the couple are both “parishioners” there, leading to speculation that Johnson, who was baptized Catholic but confirmed in the Church of England, has returned to the Catholic Church.
Johnson and Symonds’ son was recently baptized Catholic.
“#BorisJohnson, a twice-divorced man, whose girlfriend recently had a baby with him out of wedlock (and who also has another child out of wedlock) was married in a Catholic ceremony in Westminster Cathedral, the seat of English Catholicism,” Martin tweeted Sunday.
“At the same time,” he complained, “a same-sex couple … who are both Catholics (unlike Mr. Johnson, who was confirmed as an Anglican) cannot have their civil union blessed even in private by a priest because ‘God does not and cannot bless sin.’”
Here Martin was quoting a Vatican statement about the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality which he has decried regularly since it was released earlier this year.
As CatholicVote reported in March:
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued a clarifying note … to the effect that the Catholic Church does not bless “unions of persons of the same sex.” The document briefly explained Catholic teachings on marriage, sacraments, and sin.
…In a series of tweets [Fr. James Martin] claimed to speak for many “#LGBTQ people, as well as their friends, families and allies” and described “the Vatican’s latest pronouncement on barring the blessings of same-sex marriages” as “profoundly discouraging.”
Martin explained that many dissident priests already bless gay “marriages,” and hoped that the Vatican would allow them to continue to do so. “Especially painful for many LGBTQ people who contacted me today was the statement that God ‘does not and cannot bless sin,’” Martin added.
“Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were married within the rules of the Catholic Church,” Martin admitted Sunday. “And I wish them well.”
He added, however, that he also wishes “that the same mercy and compassion that was offered to them, recognizing their complex lives, could also be extended to same-sex couples who are lifelong Catholics.”
Martin’s comments produced a flurry of reactions from Catholics, many of whom pointed out that the Jesuit priest had made a categorical error.
Johnson’s marriage is a union between a man and a woman, they explained. Johnson’s past sins, while not necessarily irrelevant, are in theory remediable.
The same-sex unions which Martin stated he wanted to receive the “same” treatment, on the other hand, are unions between members of the same sex. By definition, therefore, there is no remedy that could make their unions into something the Church could bless like a marriage.
When Rev. Thomas Petri, OP, responded to Martin, he did so not in his own words, but with a direct quotation from Pope Francis.
“There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has… a role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life,” tweeted the Dominican priest and teacher. “Same-sex unions … may not simply be equated with marriage.” (Amoris Laetitia, 52)