Father Martin leads discussion with Buffalo Catholic community

Father James Martin, SJ, spoke at Canisius via streaming video to discuss the LGBT+ community and its relationship with the Catholic Church, as well as the sex abuse crisis in Buffalo.

Father James Martin, S.J., speaks via streaming video at Canisius' Montante Cultural Center (Cam Lareva)

By Cam Lareva, News Reporter

Last Tuesday, Feb. 18, Magis Buffalo and Canisius College hosted a conversation with Rev. James Martin, SJ, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, editor of America Catholic magazine, and New York Times best selling author. The event was open to both the Canisius community and public and the main topic of discussion was “What Would Ignatius Say in These Challenging Times?” 

Martin was present through Zoom video conferencing, and the discussion was facilitated by a panel. Martin started with an opening speech regarding the recent tribulations of former Bishop of the Buffalo Diocese, Richard Malone. Malone resigned in December of 2019 after his mishandling of the sexual abuse crimes that occured in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. surfaced. Martin discussed the pain and hardships caused by Malone’s negligence, and said, “as much as we have to acknowledge the pain in the Diocese, and the church, and among the people there, we also have to look for signs of new life.”

The panel asked discussion questions regarding his more than a dozen published books. Martin discussed that his inspiration is guided by both his religious connection and his own interests. Martin said, “I think that the goal for all my books is really the goal that Ignatius set for the Jesuits, which is to help souls.” 

Martin mainly talked about his most recent book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” which discusses the LGBT community within the Catholic church. He was surprised by the support he received from Catholic LGBT members and their families, but also by the backlash and anger he encountered online.

“It has had the most dramatic response, both positive and negative… it’s been the most surprising because it’s not a particularly controversial book, and I certainly didn’t set out to write a controversial book,” Martin said. 

Martin is currently working on his next book titled, “Learning to Pray”, and it is due to be released within a year. 

Martin is known for his teachings and activism on social media as a Jesuit and has hundreds of thousands of followers across multiple social media platforms. He has made multiple appearances on national radio and television programs, including: “The Colbert Report”, “Good Morning America”, “Face the Nation”, and many more. 

Martin was ordained a Catholic priest in 1999 and became a Jesuit 10 years later. Before priesthood, Martin received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1982. Following graduation he held a corporate finance position with General Electric for six years in New York City, N.Y. and Stamford, C.T. Martin later studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, and holds two master’s degrees: one in Divinity and one in Theology. 

The event ended with a few questions from the audience regarding the LGBT community in the Catholic church, polarization in the church and the role of bishops in the leadership of the church. Father Martin closed the event with a group prayer and advice for the people of Buffalo. 

“We all have problems in our lives… and we should participate in the process of rebuilding and growth… and know [Christ] is with you,” he said.  

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