Malachi Martin wasn't a 60s liberal, he was far worse
September 20, 1996
Milt Rosenberg of WGN in Chicago interviews Malachi Martin. Earlier that day, Rosenberg had been reading through Edmund Wilson's memoirs ("The Sixties", 1993, Farrar Straus and Giroux) and became puzzled by what he read. Below is the audio file and the transcript of the exchange that follows:
LISTEN TO AUDIO OF THE INTERVIEW
Rosenberg: Only today and I pulled out, uh, my copy of Edmund Wilson’s memoirs from the 1960s…
Rosenberg: which I had read when they first appeared a few years ago, and uh...
Martin: He was a friend of mine.
Rosenberg: I know he was, and I was quite delighted when I found it in my original reading of it that you show up as a man he was very interested in. But I looked you up in the index and went back to the pages, and in his first encounter with you, he reports you as saying to him, that your Jesuit colleagues were beginning to stay away from you because you overtly spoke in doubt about the central items of faith. They too shared those doubts, but it was sort or normative in that Jesuit culture, not to directly confront…
Martin: Not to ask questions.
Rosenberg: Not to ask questions.
Martin: Not to (unintelligible)
Rosenberg: Even though they didn’t believe in the full divinity of Jesus either, and were you were questioning that, and questioning….
Martin: I was not… I was not in question to it. I was asking question after question about everything.
Martin: About everything.
Rosenberg: And it was on that basis that you left. As I’ve known you for many years..
Rosenberg: …I would classify you as just about the most conservative, the most traditional and the most angry of all, uh, angry at the Church.
Martin: That’s right. That’s right.
Rosenberg: Angry because they have abandoned the traditions which you take to be central to the faith.
Martin: Yes that’s right. Woo..yeh, I - I can’t add one thing to that Milton.
Rosenberg: But you, what you di…Yes you can, you need to explain it.
Martin: Well what happened was…
Rosenberg: You left the liberal and now you’re a staunch defender of the eternal faith.
Martin: Yes, I…I..
Rosenberg: You are defensor piti-dei.
Martin: I’m dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, fuddy-duddy conservative. To put it in (unintelligible).
Rosenberg: Answer the question why did that happen.
Martin: Why… Uhhhh. Well Milton, eh eh, prepare to sort of, uh, mentally absorb this. The the, ah, ah, as a car absorbs the shock. I had personal revelations. Not the visions of my eyes no, I never had any visual things. But I had enlightenment inside of me, a lot of enlightenment. I went very low in my socio-economic condition, I was as poor as a church mice. I really lacked… I was hungry.
Rosenberg: For a while you were riding, you were driving a taxi cab in New York.
Martin: Yes I was. I was only living on apples, and chocolate and chocolate éclairs and coffee. I had nothing. And then I had a (unintelligible)…
Rosenberg: Chocolate éclairs is an unusual item in a starvation diet.
Martin: Well actually. The, the because ge the glucose helped me give me energy for work. I slept in the cab and things like that. Ehhh (unintelligible)… I knew nobody…(unintelligible) Two years before I had been the head doctor. I was “professore narte.” I was honored and I had always the Vatican shadow sanctioning whatever I did and said. I was honored everywhere. Suddenly I became a non-entity, despised by our former bre… by my former brethren, who wouldn’t even talk to me. And I had no possessions in the world, I had no friends really. (Unintelligible) in the jungle called New York like a cork bobbing in the water. And just, it.. it brought me down to the basics.
I suddenly realized (swallows) what I was and what a wo.. and where I came from, and what richness I had in heritage. And what uh, it meant to be a believer and t… to be chaste and to be poor in spirit, really poor in spirit. Not to avow poverty where you enjoyed all the riches of the land as supplied by the Jesuit Order of the Vatican. I really practiced poverty, I couldn’t buy a pair of socks. I didn’t know how to pay my rent. Ya know. Ah..ahhh.ahh..ah, so that brought me to reality. And then I started um practicing the faith as I always had practiced it, but never with the same fervor. And I got an enlightenment of mind that is still working out in me. I have two or three more books to write about it if I have the life in my body to do so.
February 13, 1967
Famed literary critic Edmund Wilson attends a dinner party. Roger Straus, the host, is owner of the renowned New York publishing firm Farrar, Straus and Giroux and wealthy heir to the Guggenheim fortune. Also in attendance are various hoi polloi of the New York literary scene including Robert Silvers, a writer for the “New York Review” and Pulitzer Prize winner Jean Stafford. Straus is Wilson’s publisher who also would later publish of several Martin’s books. Straus had already published “The Pilgrim”, a tell-all book on the behind the scenes activities at the Second Vatican Council which Martin had penned under the pseudonym “Michael Serafian”.
The "Davis" Wilson refers to below is Fr. Charles Davis, a priest from England, who like Martin, acted as peritus (expert) during the Second Vatican Council. In late 1966 Davis left not only the priesthood, but the Catholic Church altogether, planning to marry an American woman who was also leaving the Church. Said Davis in the December, 1966 Issue of Time Magazine, "I do not think that the claim the church makes as an institution rests upon any adequate Biblical and historical basis. I don't believe that the church is absolute, and I don't believe any more in papal infallibility. There is concern for authority at the expense of truth, as I am constantly shown by instances of the damage to persons by the workings of an impersonal and unfree system."
The "woman from Crete" mentioned is Kakia Livanos, the wealthy widow of a shipping tycoon who Martin would go on to live with for over 30 years. From Edmund Wilson's memoirs:
Dinner at the Strauses'. I was at Dorotheas's right, and across from me was a man who talked politics with great vigor and who turned out to be Robert Silvers of The New York Review. Jean Stafford was on my right and at her right was a Dr. Malachi Martin, whom Roger had described to me as a "Jesuit Dropout." He had worked for Cardinal Bea and when the movement for reform was frustrated at the 2nd Vatican Council, he had resigned from the Jesuit order - very much as Davis in England resigned from the priesthood. Roger said that there had been some scandal about him, and it seemed clear that he had taken up with a woman from Crete - formerly married to a Hungarian - who runs a jewelry store. Roger had met him in Paris and seems to have brought him over. Why? He has done one book for Roger about the Vatican and is suspected of being the author or part author of the books signed Xavier Rynne.
Wilson, a well known atheist, had already written several articles for “The New Yorker” regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls and had also compiled a book on the subject. Wilson held the view - which has since fallen out of favor among the vast majority of scroll scientists and scholars - that the scrolls were the sole work of the Essenes in Qumran. Wilson, who was not a scholar, was also pushing flawed hypothesis that the early Christians hijacked the concept of the Messiah from the Essenes. This highly heretical and unsupportable view was being pushed by a handful prominent scroll scholars of the time who were attempting to develop the manufactured Messiah theory. Among them were Andre Dupont-Sommer and the highly polemical and often wrong (to the point of retraction) John Allegro. The fabricated Gospel hypothesis was not then, and is not now in any way supported by solid scholarship or science.
Among the those who rejected the “invented Christ” hypothesis was the respected Dead Sea Scroll project manager, Fr. Roland de Vaux and the lesser known Fr. Geoffrey Graystone who wrote the book “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Originality of Christ”.
At dinner, Wilson brings up the subject of Fr. Graystone’s book to Martin. Wilson gives the following account of the exchange:
When I (Wilson) mentioned the book by Graystone, that was dated from Rome and which seemed to have been written to combat my possible influence, he (Martin) said. “Oh Graystone! Even de Vaux can’t stand him” – which raised a laugh. But they could not have appreciated his crack when he added, “He dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, didn’t he? Graystone is a Marist, and the Marists are a recent order. I think this remark was due to as Jesuit snobbery toward Marists.
Late April 1967
Edmund Wilson meets Malachi Martin for lunch . He notices that Martin is undergoing a “crisis”, which Wilson believes to have been brought on by two factors; One being that Martin was struggling with the circumstances that led to him being forced out of he Jesuits, the other being that Roger Straus related to him (Wilson) that Martin’s “Greek Girlfriend" was causing him grief. Wilson writes:
He talked about the scrolls, but also what it meant to be a Jesuit. I can see he is going through a crisis on account of leaving the order and, also, Roger thinks, because his Greek girlfriend is a "ball-crusher." He expressed himself not hysterically, but I could see that he was full of emotion. The Jesuit has to learn obedience and learn to like obedience; he must suffer, but must believe that his suffering is a sacrifice to promoting Christianity. It is obvious that he is now for the first time giving expression to the scorn and resentment that must long have been rankling with him. He ridiculed the sacred relics: The arm of St. Theresa, the bones of the Magi on the ceiling at Cologne, the foreskin of Jesus, which he says caused a war (I thought this was an invention o Peyrefitte’s). He told of an operation, after which he asked what he had said under ether. The doctor laughed and told him that he was certainly a normal man. You couldn't keep nature down. I had learned from Roger that Martin had had an affair with the wife of the Time-Life representative, and that he had been exiled by the Church to Jerusalem, where for two years he edited a magazine.
Later, after Wilson notes that Martin is “obsessed by the scrolls”, he continues:
But he was evidently suffering from bafflement at the lack of evidence for a transition from the Essenes to Jesus. Originally, there had only been Jews, some of whom had accepted Jesus as Messiah, then something quite new appeared: the idea that the blood of a certain man could gain salvation for anyone, Gentile or Jew; and Paul organized the movement. What happened in between? In the case of Allegro, this bafflement has evidently given rise to his theory that all the names in the New Testament really have an esoteric meaning and are connected with the Essene sect. His article in Harper’s and a recent letter to me sound like the ideas of someone who thinks he has discovered a cipher that proves that Shakespeare was written by Bacon.
Graystone, the Marist priest who had written a book dated Rome, with a chapter directed against me and perhaps provoked by my book, Martin said had been a pupil of his and was terribly stupid, couldn’t even read Hebrew. I had first taken Martin’s compliments as Irish blarney, but he now told me that that since I had met him, he had read my book through three times, and that I had stimulated him to think about the scrolls again. I believe he is the only person of any intellect that my book has ever influenced.
April 9, 1968
Wilson and Martin go to dinner. Wilson offers the following account (16):
As seems inevitable, he got later on the subject of his ordeals as a Jesuit priest. The three things that a Catholic priest has to accept were the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection of the body, and the immortality of the soul. If your colleagues in the priesthood began to be aware that you were entertaining doubts, they avoided and eventually ostracized you. They themselves might be loyal to their faith only by observing its ritual, and keeping its creed in a shut-off compartment rather like the doublethink of Orwell. They might interest themselves in other things, but they had always in their thoughts, this permanently paralyzed area.
June 9, 1969
Wilson attends a dinner party for another author, Lillian Hellman. He tells of how the restaurant reminds him of one he had been to recently with Malachi Martin:
The next night (Monday), Lillian Hellman's dinner given by Little, Brown to celebrate the publication of her autobiography. It was a very grand, somber, expensive, high-ceilinged restaurant of the kind that Malachi Martin had taken me to lunch a few days before. Both with several floors, many steps and no elevators; both more or less labyrinthine; both incredibly expensive. When Martin learned about my teeth, he suggested and "omelette aux fines herbs", which turned out to cost $6; (he was evidently an habitué, talked familiar French and Italian to the waiters - Roger tells me that his present lady thus keeps him in style - he seemed now less a defrocked fish out of water than a maturing man of the world).
March 6, 1970
Wilson attends a cocktail party for Martin's latest book, "The Encounter" at the home of publisher Roger Straus. He writes:
A mob, the kind of party I had managed to avoid for years and that I did not expect. I supposed that it would be simply for a few learned men. Got Wilfred Sheed sitting in a corner and had a conversation with him, spoke of religion for the first time. I said that I couldn't even understand the idea about Christ: Sent down by the Father to suffer and redeem the human race. If you believe this you will be forgiven. What sense does that make? Wilfred modestly replied that this doctrine had the advantage of providing a Christian intercessor.
I said to Malachi that, after his admirable exposition of the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and their obsolescence, their impossibility at the present time, he had left the impression of a vacuum, had barely mentioned Marxism, the substitute religion that had come to fill it. He said that he had never thought of this, that he wished I had spoken of it to him.
During the time of the council in the mid 60s, up through the interactions with his friend Edmund Wilson in the late 60s, Malachi Martin was not merely a liberal Catholic, but he may not have been a Catholic at all. According to the first hand accounts of Wilson, Martin ridiculed the sacred relics of Holy Mother Church. He calls a priest author, who wrote a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls from a Catholic perspective, "terribly stupid" and makes a "crack" in an attempt to diminish Fr. Graystone for dedicating his book to the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, he read Wilson's book on the scrolls - which adheres to the "fabricated Christ" theory - three times. Martin was baffled by the fact that the Essenes believed in a Jewish Messiah and according to Wilson, couldn't understand how the "new" concept arose where the Messiah sheds his blood for the gentiles. Martin relates to Wilson that he ran into problems with his Jesuit colleagues by over his views on the divinity of Christ, the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.
We now have yet another conflicting account from Martin himself as to why he left the Jesuits. The above account, as related by Edmund Wilson, has him leaving because his Jesuit brethren were beginning to reject Martin because over his heterodoxy or heresy. Martin by default confirms this with Milt Rosenberg when he says that he was "questioning everything" and then goes on about his supposed conversionary experience brought on by the "revelations" he had at the time he was driving a cab and eating chocolate éclairs. The account given by Martin to Ben Kaufman of the Cincinnati Enquirer has him leaving the SOJ because of a "clear understanding" of the "malicious joy" Martin took from digging up dirt on Cardinals in order to coerce them if they opposed Cardinal Bea during the council. According to Father Fiore, Martin told him that he left the Jesuits because he saw "first hand the escalating battle between traditionalists and modernists" and that if he stayed with the Jesuits, Martin would be "constrained in his orthodoxy." Leaving the Kaufman interview aside, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Martin was either being deceptive with Wilson and Rosenberg, or he was being deceptive with Father Fiore.
Regarding Martins move to New York, according to the above account from Edmund Wilson, he gets the impression that Roger Straus brought Martin to New York because he had already written "The Pilgrim" as Michael Serafian and because Martin was suspected of being involved with pseudonym Xavier Rynne. At least one of Rynne's identities was later discovered to be Father Murphy - another Council insider who was feeding information to many of the same publications that Martin was. However in regard to Martin's relocation Father Fiore writes: "...his life was at risk from some who felt he knew too much and feared his zeal for the Church. He was literally tracked from Rome to Paris, and thence to Ireland, where Jesuit friends of his family attempted to convince them that he was mentally ill. He fled to New York to escape them, where--still a priest--for a time he drove a taxi and washed dishes to support himself." Father Fiore relates this version of events as fact, but he could only have been relying, likely innocently, on what Martin had told him. Father Fiore had no contact with Martin until the 1980s. Further, according to what Father Fiore writes, Martin's life was literally "at risk" and he was being internationally pursued by the Jesuits because of his supposed "zeal for the Church". Again, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Martin was either not being truthful with Wilson and Rosenberg, or he was not being truthful with Father Fiore. One can't be heterodox and orthodox at the same time. Fr. Fiore's letters defending Martin after his death can be seen as an admirable defense of a friend, but they seem to rely solely on what he was fed by Martin himself.
In the mid to late 60s, Martin was living the high-life, attending cocktail parties and dining with the wealthiest of the New York elite. According to the Federal Reserve consumer price index calculator, the $6 omelet at the "incredibly expensive" restaurant where Martin was a regular would cost $33.60 today. Edmund Wilson believes Martin was brought from Paris to New York by Roger Straus, the extremely wealthy sole heir to the Guggenheim fortune and owner of a prominent publishing firm. He's living with Kakia Livanos, who is also very wealthy. Yet Martin could barely feed himself and couldn't buy a pair of socks?
Roger Straus via Edmund Wilson's memoirs, offers another documented account of Kakia Livanos being more than Martin's "landlady" and also offers another documented account of him having an affair with Robert Kaiser's wife. As to the latter, those who have went on the record with this claim now include Joe Roddy, Editor in Chief of Look Magazine, Robert Kaiser former Time-Life Bureau Bureau Chief and husband of the woman, and Roger Straus, owner of Ferrar, Straus and Company publishing. The New York Times obituary has her as his "companion." According to Father Fiore, who didn't even know Martin until the 1980s, Kaiser's wife "had requested Malachi's counsel about her husband's drinking and her unhappy marriage, and she coincidentally left Rome to return home at the same time that Malachi went to Paris."
When Edmund Wilson first meets Martin in early 1967, one of the first things he learns from Straus about Martin is that he wrote "The Pilgrim." This indicates that it was becoming known in certain circles that Martin and Michael Serafian were one in the same quite some time before it was formerly disclosed in any of Martins books.
Malachi Martin wasn't just a 60's liberal, he was far worse.