Je­suit’s talk can­celed fol­low­ing protests

Catholic Univer­sity calls off a speech by a priest who ad­vo­cates di­a­logue with gays.

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION - By Tracy Wilkin­son tracy.wilkin­son@la­ Twit­ter: @Tra­cyKWilkin­son

WASHINGTON — The Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica has abruptly can­celed a speech by a well­known, pop­u­lar Je­suit priest be­cause of protests over his sup­port for gay and les­bian Catholics.

Fa­ther James Martin, at­large edi­tor of the Je­suit-run Amer­ica mag­a­zine and an oft-quoted com­men­ta­tor on Catholic af­fairs, was sched­uled to speak at an alumni event at the univer­sity’s The­o­log­i­cal Col­lege on Oct. 4.

The col­lege, based in Washington, re­voked the in­vi­ta­tion fol­low­ing protests from con­ser­va­tive Catholic groups over Martin’s new book, “Build­ing a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Com­mu­nity Can En­ter into a Re­la­tion­ship of Re­spect, Com­pas­sion, and Sen­si­tiv­ity.”

In it, the pro­lific au­thor ad­vo­cates for ac­cep­tance of and di­a­logue with gays and les­bians.

Con­ser­va­tives mounted what the univer­sity called a so­cial me­dia cam­paign against Martin and his ap­pear­ance at the school.

Fa­ther John Zuhls­dorf, who runs a blog called Fa­ther Z, re­peat­edly la­beled Martin a “ho­mo­sex­u­al­ist ac­tivist” and called for Catholic in­sti­tu­tions not to host him.

Martin has said he was plan­ning a lec­ture on Je­sus and his teach­ings, not on gay Catholics or on his book.

Univer­sity Pres­i­dent John Gar­vey said the school was not in agree­ment with the The­o­log­i­cal Col­lege’s de­ci­sion.

“Uni­ver­si­ties and their re­lated en­ti­ties should be places for the free, civil ex­change of ideas,” Gar­vey said in a state­ment that was posted on the univer­sity’s web­site. “Our cul­ture is in­creas­ingly hos­tile to this idea.”

Je­suits of­ten rep­re­sent the more pro­gres­sive ranks of the Ro­man Catholic Church. Pope Fran­cis, though so­cially con­ser­va­tive, is a Je­suit — the first ever to be se­lected pon­tiff — and has also ad­vo­cated a more tol­er­ant po­si­tion to­ward gays.

Fran­cis re­cently named Martin as a con­sul­tant to the Vat­i­can’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­part­ment.


CON­SER­VA­TIVE crit­ics’ so­cial me­dia cam­paign prompted the Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica’s The­o­log­i­cal School to with­draw an Oct. 4 speak­ing in­vi­ta­tion.

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