Stephen Colbert Cuts up with Fr. James Martin

Stephen Colbert Cuts up with Fr. James Martin June 2, 2015

Recorded on Fat Tuesday, but interestingly revealing about some of what makes the guy tick:

I’m particularly impressed that somebody who has endured the tragedy he endured as a child should have the tenacity of faith to cherish and obey that passage on not worrying. On the whole, I’m grateful that a believing Catholic has been one of the cultural bellwethers of the past decade. And I agree with him completely about loving St. Peter because he is so flawed. Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?

"It wasn't here. It was at the National Catholic Reporter."

Audrey Assad Breaks Your Heart
"Years, and years ago, when I read St. Mother Teresa say "they go to God!" ..."

Where Peter Is has a nice ..."
"Your second link read as black text so I didn't see it. It's a press ..."

Audrey Assad Breaks Your Heart
"A bold claim, please point out what I've said that's false."

Audrey Assad Breaks Your Heart

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John Leavy

    I’ve never found Colbert the least bit amusing. But he DID make mincemeat of Garry Wills, so he can’t be all bad.

  • Andy

    I appreciate his apparent joy in what he was doing/saying – I do agree about Peter as a saint for all of us – warts and all.

  • ManyMoreSpices

    It’s a good thing that Colbert only dissents from the teachings of the Church on unimportant stuff like abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. If he dissented on torture he’d be anathema around here. But that other stuff – ho ho, what a good egg, full of aplomb, paling around with a Jesuit and admiring the first Pope! He even knows the words to the Nicene Creed! Plus he hates Dick Cheney, which makes him super-awesome!

    Colbert is the National Catholic Reporter in comedy form. Which is to say he’s a heterodox Catholic. There’s little to celebrate here, except that he takes on the American political right, which is apparently what really makes you a good Catholic these days.

    • Willard

      Taking on the American political right doesn’t make you a good Catholic. But you can’t be a good Catholic if you aren’t opposed to the American political right.

      • jaybird1951

        That’s sarcasm on your part, right?

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          I doubt it. Neither the American political left or right can be reconciled with the Catholic faith. Catholics have to stand against Moloch AND Mammon.

          • ManyMoreSpices

            Waiting the moment when you take on the American political left.

            And I imagine I shall remain waiting.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Luckily, all the leftwingers I know consider me a “Reagan loving Nazi” for some reason, and its most likely because I call a spade a spade and defend what the Church teaches regarding abortion, contraception, ivf, homosexuality, you name it. I also am hypercritical of cheap scare tactics like “global warming”. But I don’t need to defend myself from the likes of you.

              In fact, I wear comments like yours, left and right, As badges of honor. Just because I say you’re wrong doesn’t mean I don’t think your binary is just as misguided.

              • ManyMoreSpices

                Well, I’m around here a lot. And I look forward to seeing you take on the political left. I’m sure that’s going to happen any minute now.

                • Hezekiah Garrett

                  Not likely. Mark has a lot more confidence in the right than left in this country, and so he regularly calls them to account far more often than the left. So such opportunity occurs less often here.

                  Plus, of course, the leftwingers around here tend to be Catholic, and therefore uneasy with their alliance, less willing to stick up for evil in their own movement.

                  But you can always find a rightwing Catholic happy to stand up for rejecting the universal destination of goods, torture, the heresy of Americanism, etc.

                  But as I said, I haven’t seen any reason to care about your opinion, in the months you’ve been emoting here.

                  • Hezekiah Garrett

                    Heh, who knew a washed up Olympian turned media whore would be the spring board for proving us both wrong.

                    Life sure is funny, ain’t it?

          • Dave G.

            Yes they do. And the trick is not to lose sight of Mammon while we’re standing against Moloch. And vice versa.

            • Hezekiah Garrett


      • Liam

        I work a shift schedule on a job that requires a 24 hour presence. On A shift I’m the arch conservative because I oppose abortion, gay marriage and contraception. On B shift I’m the crazy liberal because of my views on national security and the utility of government programs for the poor. Both shifts like watching Al-Jazeera when they get the chance. Bottome line-I think Deneen nailed it in the latest issue of First Things. There’s only one effective party and they are neither Republican or Democrat.

    • jaybird1951

      Given Colbert’s views on those moral issues, I am more than a bit surprised at Mark’s almost undiluted admiration for the man.

      • Andy

        You know his personal views – not his on-air views. If you do please supply the link where he expresses them.

        • Guest

          You’re right. All we have for evidence is the long-running satirical show that bears his name, over which he exercised broad creative control and played the single recurring character. The man is a mystery.

      • Tweck

        I wonder what his views are? He certainly loves to parody Republicans, and rightfully so. But I don’t know the “real” Colbert – only his TV personality, which is a political caricature.

        • chezami

          He a garden variety dissenting lefty on the pelvic issues who could never imagine himself being anything but a Catholic. Sees the Church as family and only secondarily as a body of doctrine. Doesn’t worry too much about accepting all of the Church teaching. So: partly wrong, but devout as far as it goes. Rather like many conservative Catholics, only without the itch to launch inquisitions and burn heretics.

          • Dave G.

            They don’t?

          • ManyMoreSpices

            What a curious definition of “devout.”

            There’s this Catholic apologist and writer who has written cogently on the silliness of applying the “devout” label to those who dissent from the Church’s teachings. Goes by the name of Mark P. Shea. Might want to read him; he’s pretty sharp! Funny thing about this Shea chap, though, is that he doesn’t dissent from the Church’s teachings, and yet he calls himself “an ordinary, non-devout schlub of a Catholic.” Unlike Stephen Colbert, who dissents like a boss but is nevertheless devout.

            So if you’re keeping score at home, it’s:
            -Stephen Colbert, dissenter on pelvic issues: devout Catholic
            -Mark Shea, believing everything the Church teaches: non-devout Catholic

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        They aren’t a given.

        What surprises me is the holier than thou catholic’s propensity for casual calumny.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          Yeah. Casual calumny from the holier-than-thou Catholic. You wouldn’t have any familiarity with that, would you?

          • Hezekiah Garrett

            None whatsoever. When I calumniate, there’s nothing casual about it.

      • chezami

        What do you mean by “undiluted”? That I said something nice about him without performing the ritual kabuki of stating, for the umpteenth time, that he is wrong about abortion and gay marriage? Sorry I failed the Purity Test. Sue me.

        • orual’s kindred

          I’ve people express active contempt, if not hatred, of the man (and not just his TV character or his political leanings). And if contempt is to be taken as the standard, your enthusiasm for his works might appear as “undiluted admiration.” Thus the kabuki is most probably a crucial part of the cleansing ritual.

    • Dave G.


    • Tweck

      Oh, why don’t we sit around and judge the man from our individual Chairs of Peter…? or just celebrate the joyous discovery that he is a Catholic?! Yaaaaaaaayy!! Sounds fantastic to me! 🙂 If someone does or doesn’t accept one teaching or another, then who are we to judge? That’s God’s job. We should simply welcome them with open arms and, if they do dissent on certain issues, kindly explain why that stuff is important. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy Stephen!!!!

      This reminds me of something. When Jesus asked the pharisees if they were without sin… I could be wrong, but they certainly saw themselves as being models of what it meant to follow God’s law, so why would they think themselves sinners? “He who is without sin…” they all turned around and walked away. Because they weren’t without ~original sin~, and so could not in good conscience judge the adulterer in light of Jesus’ questioning. (I may be wrong here, but it occurred to me last night in a moment of “A-ha!!”)

      In a similar way, we shouldn’t judge people for being heterodox, orthodox or what-have-we. We should just love them, because that’s what Jesus said we should do! 🙂 Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy LOVE!!!! 😀

      And not conforming to either the political left or the political right, I would say, is more spiritually sound than conforming to either “side” of the political spectrum. Both sides tend toward supporting a variety of mortally sinful behaviors. Two sides, one coin! 🙂

    • Andy

      From your comment I assume that you adhere and agree with all that the church teaches? If so congratulations.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        I do agree with all that the Church teaches. What do you disagree with?

        Adhere? 100% of the time? Well… all have sinned. But I recognize that everything the Church teaches is true.

        • Andy

          Agree with what the church teaches _ I do – do I always adhere no – that is why I call no person heterodox.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Point the first, this is about Fr. Martin, not his interviewer.

      Point the second, Please provide evidence for your claims regarding Mr Colbert’s beliefs. In the context of a discussion of Fr. Martin, we don’t need to know these things about Mr. Colbert, So evidence only helps distinguish between detraction and calumny.

      But yeah, in a degraded culture like this, being opposed to torturing people goes a long way.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        Point the first, you don’t decide what this is about. Point the first-and-a-half, it’s about Colbert. Where Mark writes about the childhood tragedy, he’s not referring to Martin; he’s referring to Colbert, who had two brothers and his father die in a plane crash when he was ten. And mark surely isn’t referring to some Jesuit as one of the cultural bellwethers of the past decade; he’s referring to Colbert. So, reading comprehension: work on it.

        Point the second: he has (semi-) stepped out of character to defend Planned Parenthood. NARAL says that he’s pro-choice, as does Salon, and he hasn’t taken any steps to correct them. Oh, and if you think he’s orthodox on contraceptives – including taking the correct position on requiring employers to pay for contraceptives – you need to watch this.

        Now, I know the response that’s coming: “He’s playing a character. You can’t tell what the man actually believes from the ‘Stephen Colbert’ character.” And I suppose that’s true… if you’re completely obtuse. If you’re not able to discern what his actual message is, then you don’t understand his brand of political comedy at all. He lampoons pro-lifers and to the delight of his leftist audience, just as he lampoons the rest of the political right. There’s no question that Colbert is a man of the political left, and when he treats pro-lifers the way he treats Romney, Bush, and Bill O’Reilly, it’s safe to conclude he’s not in agreement.

        Colbert is a man of considerable intellect and talent. Were he pro-life, he could have – even a single time – parodied a right-wing pro-choicer (and there are plenty to choose from). He has not once employed his gifts in the defense of the unborn. But go ahead, tell me that he’s pro-life.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          I haven’t claimed he’s anything, not even funny.

          So your claim is based on gossip, from NARAL and Salon? Please explain how this isn’t calumny?

          • ManyMoreSpices

            I guess I can’t physically come there and click on the links and make you watch the videos. But it would be to your benefit. You might even stop tossing the c-word around.

        • Na


          What always offended me about Colbert was not so much that he (implicitly) claims to be this “true” catholic but rather that he claims to be a true liberal. The whole purpose of his stich is to mock and ostracize those that don’t hold his politically correct world view.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      The National Catholic Report is comedy form. It just doesn’t know it.

  • Tweck

    Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyy!!! 😀 Stephen Colbert is a Catholic too? How wonderful!!!! 🙂

  • anna lisa

    Awesome. He’s great. Thanks for this. I was getting ready to send this link to my three 20-somethings, and two teens, but noticed that the link about his brother Peter doesn’t work.

    @ManyMoreSpices:disqus I’ve seen the Colbert Report a bunch of times. He always seemed very much in support of life. Are you sure about that?

  • Lucretius
    • Lucretius

      The interesting quality of Mr. Corbert is that even if he rejects aspects of Church teaching, he doesn’t advertise it. Most who reject Church teaching usually take pride in it and display their heresy like clothing, especially today when they are in a position of power like Mr. Colbert. The fact that there are heated debates in this very combox on whether he actually does dissent on Church teaching is evidence that he is relatively good at hiding his views on such topics.

      A good discussion would be, if Mr. Corbert does in fact reject Church teaching, whether it is really a good thing that he keeps an air of uncertainty about it. Should he make it known that he actively rejects the Church, or should he just keep quiet about it?

      Christi pax.

      • Dave G.

        Even then, is it really his approach or the desire of those who do or don’t like him to spin things accordingly? The issue here is we really don’t know ‘Colbert.’ All we know is the part he plays on TV, and that is of a liberal comedian who hosts a mock news show that lampoons stereotypes of conservative show hosts. In doing that, he ridicules and pokes fun at people who oppose certain ideals like gay marriage, lawsuits against companies that don’t wish to provide contraceptive coverage, funding for Planned Parenthood, and other things consistent with a more progressive thinker. And that is how he is popularly perceived, right or wrong.

        One thing we can’t do is heap praises on the real Colbert, but then step away and say we don’t know the real Colbert if criticisms are mentioned. Truth be told, we don’t know. We know he is Catholic, and says he does a lot for his parish. Including teach. He apparently takes his faith seriously, as do many people. And his entertainment persona is one of a pro-gay marriage, pro-reproductive health, pro-HHS mandate Catholic. How accurate that is, I can’t tell you. I like him. Maybe he doesn’t support any of those things. But even if he personally doesn’t approve of such things, he has gone a long way in our modern pop culture toward convincing people that one can be a good, faithful Catholic and approve of such things. And that, IMHO, is damaging enough.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          Perfect. Better than I could have put it. Thank you.

          As far as Colbert the Catechist goes…

          It’s laudable to demonstrate to a leftist, non-Catholic audience that some of their values are consistent with the teachings of the Church. To the extent that Colbert does that and causes people to take an open-minded look at the Church, good for him.

          If he stopped there, I’d have little to object to. The problem is not so much that he’s teaching only part of the Catechism. It would be nice if Colbert challenged, rather than simply flattered, his audience on occasion (something that Jon Stewart was far more willing to do) but if he wants to focus on the Church’s teachings on poverty, fine. It’s hard to present everything.

          The problem is that his presentation of the pelvic-issues portions of the Catechism have been worse than silence. The reasoned, persuasive, thoughtful pro-life/pro-marriage voices never got an airing. What Colbert presented was the over-the-top buffoonery of those who say that a rape is God’s will, and a lampooning of the Church’s positions on marriage and contraception. You wouldn’t know from watching Colbert that sane pro-lifers exist. You’d sure know about the kooks, though. But only the pro-life kooks, of course.

          Now I won’t say that it’s the responsibility of Stephen Colbert, man of the left, to present the right’s arguments fairly or completely. But I will say that it is the responsibility of Stephen Colbert, Catholic, not to make Catholic teaching look foolish.

          So if Colbert announced in an interview tomorrow that he was pro-life and had always been, I would do two things in response: (i) apologize for misrepresenting his views, and (ii) ask him why in blazes he worked so hard to make pro-lifers look so bad to an audience of millions over so many years.

          One final point about the Catholic Colbert. Like you, I accept that Stephen Colbert is a believing Catholic. Dolan and Martin aren’t letting themselves be conned. But it’s not just Stephen Colbert who’s a believing Catholic. It’s also “Stephen Colbert.” And while I definitely see plenty of room for humor within the Catholic faith, “Stephen Colbert” is the butt of the joke. All right-thinking smarty-pantses are supposed to laugh at him. “Stephen Colbert” is a buffoon, a loudmouth, an ignoramus, a cementhead – O’Reilly and Hannity at their most bombastic and thick. Everything about “Stephen Colbert” is a contemptible joke…

          …and “Stephen Colbert” is a practicing, believing Catholic.

          When “Stephen Colbert” recites the Nicene Creed, I guess we’re not supposed to laugh at that or think it’s dangerous and stupid, even though we just got done laughing at something dangerous and stupid that “Stephen Colbert” just said about Obama. Got that? When “Stephen Colbert” says Catholic stuff, he’s serious and smart and thoughtful. The rest of the time he’s a dope and a blowhard.

          I suppose the Colbert Report audience could be sophisticated enough to figure out that his Catholic faith is the one and only part of the “Stephen Colbert” character that you’re not supposed to laugh at. Anything’s possible, right?

        • Lucretius

          I’m not really heaping praises. Actually, in my comment above, I deliberately avoided using language to indicate whether I think what he is doing is a good thing or a bad one.

          Is his persona pro-abortion, etc.? I never got that vibe. I’ve always understood him as “funny and unserious,” as Chesterton would put it (Chesterton himself was funny and serious, a paradox 😉 ).

          Christi pax.

          • Dave G

            His persona has mocked those who oppose gay marriage, the hhs mandate and funding for planned parenthood. Again, what the real Colbert might think could be argued. But if you haven’t heaped praise, look around. Others clearly have.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        The interesting quality of Mr. Corbert is that even if he rejects aspects of Church teaching, he doesn’t advertise it.

        Yeah, um, about that…

        • Lucretius

          Talk about a topic that was sooo last month ago :-p

          Remember that, regardless of what that article says, what I said was before the ruling. So, that post was true at the time it was made.

          Christi pax,