Jesuits like Fr. James Martin Should Learn from Africa

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Here in the West, June has been named “LGBTQ Pride Month,” a dark reminder of the challenges the LGBTQ movement poses to people who hold to the Church’s teachings on sexuality. To make matters worse, a number of Catholic leaders would rather surrender to progressive sexual ideology than defend their faithful flocks.

Take America Magazine’s Fr. James Martin’s opinions on homosexuality, for example. In an interview with the Religion News Service this week, Martin said “some of the language used in the catechism on that topic needs to be updated….”

The catechism “says that the homosexual orientation is itself ‘objectively disordered,’” but “saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful.” Instead, he suggested a phrase he recently heard from a theologian in Italy: “differently ordered.”

It is intimidating to hear this from such a powerful man in the Church. Just months ago, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Martin as a consultant to the Vatican’s Communications Secretariat. But rather than be completely demoralized, Catholics should remember the rich wisdom of Holy Mother Church and turn to the saints.

That is just what I do in this interview with Nigerian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha.

CV: Last week, while “Pride Month” was just getting started in the West, Catholics in Uganda took time to remember the courage of the Ugandan Martyrs—22 heroic Christians who resisted sexual deviancy, and paid the ultimate price for doing so. Could you tell us a little about their story?

Ekeocha: The true story of the great Ugandan Martyrs is one that is not widely known around the world, even though it is a powerful story of conversion and courage at the very dawn of the Christian missions in Uganda.

In the late 1800’s, a number of young palace servants converted to Christianity.

These servants were mostly children and young adults. Their leader, Charles Lwanga, was only about 26 years old.

As they learnt more about the Gospel, they grew in their faith to the point that it affected every aspect of their lives.

This drastic change soon became obvious to the King, Mwanga II, because as king, he was used to having all his wishes and desires fulfilled by his servants. These unfortunately included homosexual practices.

But with the conversion of these servants, they had the courage to refuse the King’s homosexual advances. This enraged the King, who by tradition had the power of life and death over all his subjects. He ordered the execution of the converts who firmly chose to please God rather than man.

The executions spanned a number of days but the final mass execution was carried out on June 3rd 1886, on the outskirts of Kampala at a place called Namugongo.

It was only very recently that it occurred to me that these young men and boys, who died primarily because of their refusal to engage in homosexual practices, were killed at the very beginning of the month of June.

A little more than 100 years after their martyrdom, this same month has been marked in Western countries as the “LGBTQ pride month,” when the homosexual lifestyle is celebrated and elevated. It is also in this month that many LGBTQ-related “victories” have been attained, like the Obergefell v. Hodges case in which the Supreme Court redefined marriage in America.

I have been to Namugongo to pray and to learn more about these Martyrs, and I was not prepared to see the life-size sculptures that reenact and depict to this day the gruesome death these young Christians suffered for their love of God.

They were tortured, bludgeoned, and then burned. More than 40 of them killed for their faith, and the King did this just so that the Christian faith and courage would die at Namugongo.

But instead, the Martyrs’ blood became the seed of the Church, not just for Uganda but also the neighboring countries.

Today, an overwhelming majority of the Ugandan population is Christian, about 45% of the country are Catholics, and June 3rd—which is the date of the horrific mass execution—has been declared a national holiday by the Ugandan government. So more than a million people make the pilgrimage to the Martyrs’ shrine at Namugongo.

It is the most amazing thing, and it all started with conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Under the Obama Administration, the Church in America suffered many cultural defeats. Christians who resisted the LGBTQ movement, like Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, tend to be humiliated and professionally sabotaged in what some have called a form of “white martyrdom.” Are the Ugandan martyrs relevant to our current battles, in a way?

Of course, the Ugandan Martyrs are really powerful intercessors, who during their lives on earth saw firsthand the oppression of a totalitarian and supreme leader.

Leading up to their death, they were tied up like slaves and marched through many miles for days until they reached the spot that was prepared for their execution. Throughout this ordeal, they were not only facing certain death, but they were a spectacle for the people as they passed on foot through villages.

The king ensured that they were seen by as many people as possible and humiliated. To make an example of them for all those who were thinking of converting to Christianity or even taking the faith seriously to the point of fortitude or courage.

Isn’t this what we are seeing today around the Western world? Especially when anyone dares to speak up against the objectionable redefinition of the most foundational and fundamental aspects of culture and civilization.

The only thing tolerated by the titans and kings of Western countries is our silence and full compliance.

Any baker that refuses to bake a gay-wedding cake, any florist who refuses to serve at a civil union reception, any T-shirt maker who refuses to print messages that he objects to, will not only be socially tortured, bludgeoned and burned; they will be paraded and dragged through the mud by the media and the all-powerful LGBTQ groups who ensure that the message is sent to everyone who may in the future consider dissenting.

We have seen families devastated, businesses shut down, and even courts imposing enormous fines on dissenters.

I look at these men and women condemned for their faith and I immediately remember Saints Charles Lwanga, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Andrew Kagwa, Joseph Mukasa, Ambrosius Kibuuka and the other courageous Ugandan Martyrs who went through red martyrdom for choosing to do the will of God.

It may seem so dismal for many of us as we consider the wealthy coalition that is actively opposing us, but these men are with God and can intercede for us if we ask their help.

Many Catholics feel demoralized by some of the Catholic leadership in the West. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently broke with tradition and led a St. Patrick’s Day Parade with a “gay pride” section. Recently a Catholic parish in New York formed a “Gay Fellowship” that will partner with the “Born This Way Foundation” for a fundraiser. And of course Jesuit celebrity priest James Martin has greeted “LGBTQ Pride Month” with open arms.

In short, even as many Catholics wrestle with their duty to witness to their faith, some of their leaders seem ready to retreat—or even to embrace the LGBTQ movement wholesale. How do you think we should respond to such failures of leadership? What do you think the Ugandan Martyrs might have done?

We must do what the Ugandan Martyrs did: Peacefully resist and refuse to please the world against the word of God.

From recent occurrences, we know that our resistance and dissent will cost us dearly. Even if it doesn’t cost us our lives, it could cost us our livelihoods.

But remember that we walk a path of faith paved with the blood and bones of thousands of martyrs who have died in the last 2000 years. They died not because they craved death, or because they had nothing to live for, but rather because they were willing to follow Jesus, who asked all of us to pick up our crosses daily and follow Him.

Sometimes I wish this daily cross is only limited to a few painless sacrifices, a meal missed, small mortifications, health challenges, daily toils, but we are living in an era where a cross could be as heavy and crushing as a lawsuit by an LGBTQ organization, or a shameful suspension from work for a comment we made on social media opposing the redefinition of marriage, or a parent losing a gender dysphoric child for opposing their sex-change.

We must carry all these massive painful crosses all way to our own Namugongo (which may well be in New York, Toronto, or London), knowing that by our Christian courage and our white martyrdom, our tears, sweat, and blood will one day become the seed of the Church.

We may not live to see this happen, but I have stood and prayed and wept on the very spot where Charles Lwanga was burnt to ashes, and I know that God can (and will) build His Church out of the ashes of His martyrs. And to be the martyrs, we must lay down our lives for the Gospel.

Obianuju Ekeocha is a Nigerian Catholic pro-life activist based in London, and the foundress of the pro-life organization Culture of Life Africa. She is currently writing a book about Western cultural imperialism in the 21st Century, and how a new colonialism is imposing progressive Western ideas on African countries against the will of their people, using governments and private foundations deceptively posing as generous charitable givers and advocates for the poor. CatholicVote readers can expect to hear more about this exciting project soon!

Photo credit: Kerry Weber

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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Stephen Herreid is Managing Editor Online at CatholicVote.org, and Executive Producer and Host of the CatholicVote Radio Hour. He is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHerreid.

8 Comments

  1. It’s one thing when attacks on our faith come from outside the Church. But it’s utterly demoralizing when the attacks and attempts to confuse the faithful come from our own leaders. Wolves in sheep’s clothing? God help us.

  2. Obianuju Ekeocha is a well-spoken advocate surely guided by the Holy Spirit. I found her on twitter tonight – my first encounter with her work. Reading her messages, it becomes so clear that the Church cannot change doctrines the Martyrs died for, and why this is so: They are the very core of our Faith! To love God above everything with one’s whole heart, mind and soul, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Post-modernist thinking tries to redefine “love” as “helping someone to obtain or do what they want for convenience, lust, or financial benefit, even if the Church teaches that it is sin.” That’s the driving motivation for Fr. Martin and others who are confused by the arguments. There is much confusion surrounding the discussion, and where there is confusion, there is the tail of the devil. The father of lies sows confusion and spins souls around until they cannot find the true path that leads to salvation. Take a little bit of compassion for someone’s suffering and turn it into radical protest of a perceived injustice — this is foolishness, yet this is common among social activist priests and religious. For instance, Fr. Martin no longer sees homosexual behavior as acting on lust, but as “love.” On the other hand, Fr. Mike Schmitz — whose brother is homosexual and chaste — very lovingly and compassionately empathizes with the suffering of loneliness from unfulfilled romantic desires, and offers support through recognizing individuals in their suffering and encouraging them in their walk with Christ. Because Christ suffered for love. I have never felt comforted or protected by a priest who encourages me to sin out of pity for the suffering from denying myself a pleasure (yes, I’ve encountered such, may God have mercy on their souls). I feel protected by priests who encourage me to resist sin. May the holy Martyrs pray for priests and religious!

  3. Father Martin correctly points out that the term “intrinsically disordered” is an inaccurate translation of the term in Latin. A more accurate translation is “not in keeping with the natural order.” It is our faith and church teaching to resist any deingration of any person.

    And I cannot imagine that there is any other than circumstantial connection between the historical event described in this article and any social events in the US. If there is evidence to show some connection, then please show it.

  4. This article is deprived of credulity.
    How can one publish an article about freedom and the right to live out one’s beliefs in Uganda, in the context of LGBTQ issues, and not mention the fact that being gay in Uganda is an imprisonable offense? And this is only after the country’s death penalty law for homosexuality, one devised working with US far-right Christian groups, was repealed due to international outrage?
    It is baffling that the very freedoms you demand for people who observe Christian beliefs are not freedoms that this organization wants to acknowledge as the rights of all people, regardless of belief.
    An article about religious repression based on beliefs about sexuality in a country that jails gay people, without acknowledging that fact, seems to be tacitly supporting the status quo.

  5. we should never plead “freedom” for perversity. Pedophelia and incest are still prosecutable crimes…homosexual acts should be as well. Pandora’s box has been opened.

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