Father Malachi Brendan Martin (July 23, 1921- July 27, 1999) was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest who became a popular author and speaker upon various fringe topics such as exorcisms, Satanism, Liberation Theology, the Tridentine liturgy, obscure points of Catholic dogma and the geopolitical importance of The Pope, and those who allegedly wished to topple him.
Martin was born in County Kerry, Ireland and studied at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. There he received doctorates in the Semitic Languages, Archeology and Oriental History. Subsequently, he studied at Oxford and at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was ordained on August 15, 1954. From 1958 to 1964 he served the Holy See at the Vatican in Rome. Martin was the private secretary of Augustin Cardinal Bea in Rome and lived and worked at the Vatican for many years. In 1964, Pope Paul VI released Father Martin from the vows of poverty and obedience in the Jesuit Order, but confirmed his vow of celibacy.
In his book Hostage To the Devil, he claimed to have assisted in several exorcisms while a priest. He was interviewed several times on the Art Bell radio program Coast to Coast AM and was a brother of the Irish historian FX Martin.
A book by Time Magazine´s Robert Blair Kaiser ("Clerical Error: A True Story", Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002) cast doubt upon much of what Martin wrote about himself and others. Supporters counter that his writings concerning exorcism are in line with similar writings by Father Gabriele Amorth, the current Roman Catholic exorcist of Rome.
Martin's writings frequently present a dark, and often paranoid, view of the world, invoking at every turn, dark spirits and sodomites, demonic possession and cannabilism, lesbians and blasphemy, heresy and pedophilia, betrayal and conspiracy, satanism and human sacrifice, each being asserted as rife throughout the Catholic church, from its lowest levels to its highest. Despite this prevailing paranoia, his exposition can be forceful, with the appearance of considerable intelligence and authority, though, given its subject material, understandably devoid of wit.
One element of the controversy surrounding Martin is discussed here: "High Ranking Jesuit Confirms Malachi Martin's Status as Life Long Priest" by William H. Kennedy - April 2004.
"In a stunning reversal of past policy Father Vincent O'Keefe SJ, former Vicar General of the Society of Jesus and a past President of Fordham University, affirmed that Malachi Martin was in fact granted a dispensation from all his vows in the Jesuit order except for chastity. This dispels decades of rumors that Father Martin was defrocked for having had an affair with the wife of a famous journalist. This was the false lie spread by past Jesuits to discredit Father Martin. Martin requested and received a special dispensation by Pope Paul VI to remain a Catholic priest and say Mass in private.
Ever since Father Martin's scathing review of his former order The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church (1988) rumors were spread by members of this order claiming Martin was defrocked and expelled from the Church of Rome. Martin denied this charge until his death in 1999. Father Mitchell Pacwa- chief spokesman at the Catholic run EWTN would regularly hang up on callers who inquired about Martin on his live call in show.
Father O'Keefe was the Vicar General of the Society in 1965, at the time of Father Malachi Martin's departure from Rome. Why Father O'Keefe decided to set the record straight on Malachi Martin is anyone's guess."
This appeared on the Malachi Martin yahoo e-group, posted by a member who communicated with Fr. Tom Widner SJ, Secretary for Communication of the US Jesuit Conference, concerning Martin's status. Father Widner questioned Father O'Keefe -now retired - and he recalled Martin's receiving a special dispensation relieving him of all his vows except for chastity. The communication also promoted two other views about Martin including that Martin lived in an unchaste relationship. The message referred to a disputed obituary of Martin which appeared in the New York Times. The lady in question, it is said by some, was merely Martin's landlady for whom he also acted as spiritual advisor. The communication also reports that Martin requested release from his vow of chastity, another disputed statement.
However, The Jesuits have apparently confirmed that Martin was a valid priest his whole life (which according to Catholic law does not prove he behaved well or honestly). This, say some, marks a radical change in Jesuit policy concerning Father Malachi Martin- in that they acknowledge his status as a life long priest.