WASHINGTON, D.C. — Theological College has canceled Jesuit Fr. James Martin’s presentation due to criticism on some social media sites of his LGBTQ book, “Building a Bridge.”
This was a devastating blow to the Catholic Church, academic freedom and pastoral outreach to LGBTQ individuals, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo shared in a public statement.
“The decision is an impotent one in which the seminary’s leaders reveal that they are powerless to stand up to commentators whose views are beyond the mainstream of Catholic thought. It reveals cowardice on the part of the seminary’s administrators who do not have integrity to withstand pressure from outside forces, and instead opt for censorship instead of discussion,” he added.
DeBernardo said that the college’s renown as an academic institution would be “irreparably damaged” unless the decision was reversed. He added that the decision did damage to the already-tenuous relationship between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community strengthened by Fr. Martin’s book. Parishes and colleges have welcomed the priest to speak since his book was published.
“It is astonishing that the seminary leaders did not side with the two cardinals and a bishop who praised Fr. Martin’s book as it was being published,” DeBernardo said. He also said that the decision was “ludicrous” for two other reasons: Fr. Martin was not speaking about the book or LGBTQ issues and the book is considered mild by comparison to others on the market.
Fr. Martin’s book has reached a broad audience since its publication earlier this summer and has been seen as one of value.
“Fr. Martin is experiencing the rejection of many who speak out prophetically. It is the same rejection experienced by millions of Jesus’ followers and, indeed, by Jesus Himself. For the sake of Fr. Martin, for Catholic academics, and for LGBT Catholics, we pray this sorry and shameful action by Theological College will soon be reversed,” he concluded.