On September 5, 2017, Fordham University will host “a conversation” between James Martin, S.J., and Dr. Patrick Hornbeck. A similar event with Martin and Hornbeck took place at Fordham in 2014. Hornbeck is currently Associate Professor and Chair of Fordham’s Department of Theology. In 2015, he married his same-sex partner at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City.
During the 2014 event, Martin discussed “the law of gradualism” at it relates to possible Catholic pastoral practices with LGBT men and women. He explained:
John the Baptist’s model is essentially conversion first and then Communion. You repent, you convert, and then you are welcomed into the community…Jesus’ daring insight was to have Communion first and then conversion.
Martin endorses what he sees as this gradualist approach, he added:
…bring them in, welcome them, gradualism, its okay, we accompany them and then move them along.
But then how would the Catholic Church reconcile this new welcoming attitude which includes Communion while still prohibiting homosexual activity and sex-sex relationships? Martin said:
…of course doctrine develops and obviously we can change our teaching on these things.
Hornbeck shared some of his own experiences, he said:
One of the things I was taught, I’ve been with Jesuits since high school, there is this Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, a teaching paradigm, that starts out with where is the student. And the goal is not to say: “Oh bad student, look at the nasty place you are in. Let me try to help you out of it.” But let me understand who you are in this place, let me see God in you in that place.
During a 2017 address titled “Pope Francis –A Student of St Ignatius,” regarding “the search for God in all things,” Hornbeck said:
Unlike some of the people whom Francis criticizes for having a more legalistic or rigorist bent, he is willing to ask the question – How exactly is it that God is working in the lives of those whose marriages have been broken or in the lives of same-sex couples and the families that they create? A stricter interpretation of Canon Law or of sexual ethics might urge us to the conclusion that nothing good can come out of these relationships – these divorced and remarried relationships, these same-sex relationships, something along the lines of no good fruit from the poisoned tree, but Francis, while not undertaking any formal doctrinal changes has urged the clergy to make allowances in pastoral practice for those whom he says live in quote/unquote “irregular situations.”
Hornbeck added: “How is Christ working in that space?”
In a August 24, 2017 interview with the pro-gay San Francisco periodical “The Bay Area Reporter,” Martin stated:
Most of the vicious stuff has been from the far right. I think there are five reasons for this: 1) fear of the LGBT person as the ‘other,’ 2) hatred of LGBT people, 3) visceral disgust at same-sex relations, 4) theological opposition to welcoming LGBT people because that means church teaching might be changed, which is terrifying to them, and 5) most importantly is discomfort with their own sexuality, especially because a few of the critics from the far right are self-professed former gays.
“The Bay Area Reporter” is the oldest continually published LGBT newspaper in the US. The paper covers both national and local stories of interest to the LGBT community; a variety of companies advertise in the paper: from hospitals and high-end hotels to gay sex clubs and men offering “nude erotic massage.” The author of the James Martin article is Brian Bromberger, an ordained Deacon of the Archdiocese of San Francisco; his articles and reviews for “The Reporter” are often very sexually explicit; see here for examples.
In the interview with Bromberger, Martin also stated:
One of my closest friends is a gay man who left a religious order and has been with his partner for 20 years. Mark has cared for his partner, who has a serious illness. The question to the church and bishops is: What can they learn about love from Mark and his partner?
“One of Martin’s contentions is that few bishops know LGBTs. When asked if their priests coming out to them could facilitate this dialogue, Martin replied, ‘Yes, I do.'”
According to Bromberger, Martin “said that he prefers not to make public his own sexuality.”
In a 2013 interview, Martin said:
The idea that someone can come out and be honest and transparent and open about the way God created them, I think is terrific. I think it’s something the Catholic Church can support.