The new North American 'martyrs'—Jesuit missionaries for a very different cause

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 14, 2015

America magazine, the Jesuit weekly, has a painstakingly balanced editorial in response to the Obergefell decision. A stranger to the argument could read the editorial from stem to stern and still not know, with any degree of certainty, whether the editors think the Supreme Court was right or wrong. But more perceptive readers should be able to recognize the subtle signals:

The temptation to see the court decision in black and white terms is also evident among some of those who see the court’s action only as one more attempt to marginalize the church and diminish religious freedom. We should resist this temptation as well…. In engaging in such debates, Catholics must be careful not to develop a “Masada complex” that would reduce our self-understanding to that of a besieged minority. Such a narrow self-perception is contrary to the generous, expansive nature of the good news we seek to share.

For an understanding of how most American Jesuits actually responded to the decision, it might be more useful to read the earlier editorial in the Jesuit Post, which is published by young Jesuits still in formation. Where their elders hesitate, the younger men rush in:

And there’s a danger if religious voices continue to react as if advocacy for same-sex marriage is in itself a form of religious persecution. It simply is not. … To equate what many perceive as correcting an injustice with religious persecution is to invite that persecution.

Read that last sentence again. Is the Jesuit Post telling us that if we keep talking about religious persecution, we’ll get what we deserve? No, that’s not quite the message. But it’s close.

”It’s a mistake to reduce the Church’s position on same sex marriage to be against equality and for injustice,” the young Jesuits tell us. That’s encouraging, I suppose; they don’t think that the Church’s position is simply evil; it’s more complicated than that. Still this editorial leaves no question that the writers applaud the Supreme Court decision and lament the lingering Catholic resistance to acceptance of same-sex unions.

#LoveHurts is the hashtag on this remarkable editorial. What “hurts” the editors of the Jesuit Post is the failure of old-fashioned Catholics to share their delight with the Obergefell decision. To read the editorial in its entirety is to realize that these young Jesuits see themselves as missionaries, determined to make converts. However, unlike the Jesuit missionaries of an earlier age, they do not aspire to bring pagans into the Catholic fold. Their goal—not even hidden in this editorial—is to persuade Catholics to adopt the sexual ethics of an increasingly pagan society.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: evans.schmidt6125 - Jul. 16, 2015 12:02 PM ET USA

    The sad reality is that the Obergefell decision and its philosophy is rooted in the issue of contraception. The issue of contraception, which both Catholic culture and the larger culture, dismissed in the 1960s is coming back to roost. So many of the perversions and culture issues faced today find their root in that issue. It is God's plan for sexuality or Man's plan for sexuality. Man, once again, has chosen to eat of the forbidden Apple and is bearing the consequences of those actions.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 14, 2015 11:05 PM ET USA

    In a word, the Jesuits see it their task not to make gays Catholic, but to make Catholics gay.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 14, 2015 5:45 PM ET USA

    Jesuit Fr. Paul Shaughnessy wrote once: "Jesuits are all loyal to the papacy, but to the future papacy - that of Pope Chelsea XII, perhaps - and their support for contraception, gay sex, and divorce proceeds from humble obedience to this conveniently protean pontiff."