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Conscience Magazine

Conservative Catholic Group Calls for Ecclesiastical Censure of Priest Leading Initiative for Clerical Condemnation of LGBTQ youth Bullying

May 6, 2021

AFTER FR. JAMES MARTIN obtained hierarchical support to end bullying of LGBTQ youths in the United States, Life Site News circulated a petition calling for his censure by the Jesuit order. In conjunction with the Tyler Clementi Foundation, Martin—who is editor at large of America magazine— had obtained the signatures of no less than 10 U.S. bishops in his condemnation of bullying. Support from the Association of U.S. Catholic priests, moderated by Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, soon followed.

In less than a week, Life Site News countered the historic efforts of the Tyler Clementi Foundation (set up in the wake of the LGBTQ teen’s suicide after repeated anti-gay cyber-harassment) and Martin by calling for the Jesuit’s censure by the Society of Jesus on the grounds of blasphemy. Citing a tweet sent by Martin that rendered the halo in a painting of the Black Madonna (known as Our Lady of Czecstochowa) as a rainbow, Life Site claimed offense on behalf of the entire nation of Poland, extending to the level of an iconic heresy amounting to blasphemy.

Martin’s initial tweet referred to a case in Poland in which three activists were accused of “desecrating a copy of the Black Madonna” for replacing her traditional halo with a rainbow. The activists were acquitted in March. Martin sought to highlight repressive techniques representing more extreme versions of the very sort of bullying that he had addressed within the U.S. only days earlier.

Having already received over 17,000 signatures by early January, Life Site’s petition was addressed to the superior general of the Jesuits, a copy of which was then forwarded to the Polish and American Jesuit conferences.