Malachi Martin

[Note: Although Mr. Martin died in 1999 the following comments are still useful, given the continuing interest in his writings and positions.]

We get many questions about Malachi Martin, his books and his credentials. Not all of them can be answered due to an absence of information. The following is what is known.

Malachi Martin states, and the Holy See will confirm if asked, that "In 1965, Mr. Martin received a dispensation from all privileges and obligations deriving from his vows as a Jesuit and from priestly ordination." [Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, 25 June 1997, Prot. N. 04300/65].

Concerning the allegations about churchmen found in Windswept House under the guise of fiction, they would certainly be sad if true, and other sources have suggested the basic factualness of some of the accounts. However, even if they were based on fact the Church is in no more danger of being overcome by the gates of hell today than it was during any of the other crises of history. Jesus had his Judas and history shows that His Mystical Body has had its share, as well. To deny the past and present Judases within the Church would be wrong. However, to act as if it made any difference to our obligations of obedience would be to take scandal (called passive scandal) from those who are giving scandal. Jesus warns us about those who would give scandal to his little ones (Mt. 18:6) and thereby sought by that warning to provide an antidote for passive scandal, as well. In his Summa Theologiae St. Thomas Aquinas tells us,

Passive scandal implies that the mind of the person who takes scandal is unsettled in its adherence to good. Now no man can be unsettled, who adheres firmly to something immovable. The elders, i.e. the perfect, adhere to God alone, Whose goodness is unchangeable, for though they adhere to their superiors, they do so only in so far as these adhere to Christ, according to 1 Cor. 4:16: "Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ." Wherefore, however much others may appear to them to conduct themselves ill in word or deed, they themselves do not stray from their righteousness, according to Ps. 124:1: "They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in Jerusalem." Therefore scandal is not found in those who adhere to God perfectly by love, according to Ps. 118:165: "Much peace have they that love Thy law, and to them there is no stumbling-block [scandalum]." [ST II-II question 43, article 5, answer]

Perfect men sometimes fall into venial sins through the weakness of the flesh; but they are not scandalized (taking scandal in its true sense), by the words or deeds of others, although there can be an approach to scandal in them, according to Ps. 72:2: "My feet were almost moved." [ibid., response to objection 3]

So even if the crimes alleged in Windswept House actually occurred they do no more than confirm what the Catholic striving to be perfect should already know, human beings, even priests and bishops, are potentially capable of the most heinous acts of insubordination to God. This knowledge, as we conclude from St. Thomas' teaching, must not change our own unswerving fidelity to ecclesiastical authority in matters that fall under the competence of that authority.

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

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