Has Archbishop Nichols Seen What's Down the Road?

'Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No', 'No'.'
"I don't know. Who knows what's down the road?" ~ Archbishop Vincent Nichols

That quote came from the Archbishop of Westminster in response to the question, "Is the Catholic church not going to have to do the same eventually?" on the issue of showing "flexibility" in order to "sanction gay marriages" as other churches appear to.

It probably won't go down in Church history as a great quote from an Archbishop, nor be pointed to as an example of an intrepid defense of the Faith, but it could certainly be a telling quote, one that may yet come back to haunt the Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Archbishop himself.

The problem with the quote is, of course, that is suggests that the Catholic Church leaves a side door ajar for the secular World's beliefs to enter in, that the Church can take on board the World's suggestions or edicts or adapt itself to the whims and fashions of the time. It suggests that, given that we don't know what is 'down the road', it would be silly to rule out some kind of accommodation of new laws, new policies or new practices in the future with regard to this particularly sensitive and very important matter. What is quite strange is that the Church of England, who, at times, appear to be the practising homosexual's new best friend, have ruled out any gay marriages taking place in their churches, yet we've had, as yet, nothing from the Catholic Bishop Conference of England and Wales rejecting Lynne Featherstone's 'proposal'.

Now, obviously, this legislation is couched in the language of choice and liberty for different 'communions', 'ecclesiastical bodies' and 'churches'. Still, however, the Church of England has managed to produce a robust rejection of the proposals and that is coming from the ecclesiastical branch of the civil service. The Quakers, Unitarians, Presbyterians and a small group of different denominations can say "we do" if they want because "they know not what they do".  Just to clear up any confusion, it would be good if the Bishops Conference of England and Wales could say, "You might...but we don't, nor shall we ever." Why did that quote above leave a number of the Faithful feeling as if the Archbishop is in some way hedging his bets?

Courtesy of The Telegraph today...

When the Equality Bill was passed by the House of Lords last March, a spokesman for the government equalities office said the move paved the way to allow religious groups "to let civil partnership ceremonies take place in their churches, mosques, synagogues and so on if they choose to do so". The spokesman added: "It will not force any religious group to do anything that is not compatible with their faith."
However, the new move could open up a legal minefield with same-sex couples possibly taking anti-discrimination action against religious groups if they were barred from getting married in the place of worship of their choice.

I'm no lawyer, you understand, but one does wonder why, if the legislation 'will not force any religious group to do anything that is not compatible with their faith', there could possibly be 'a legal minefield with same-sex couples possibly taking discrimination action against religious groups if they were barred from getting married in the place of worship of their choice'? Could it be that the equality legislation is, perhaps, heavily weighted in favour of the activist homosexual community and that the rights of the Church to liberty of worship and freedom of religion will eventually be crushed by a huge juggernaut draped with a rainbow flag at the end of 'the road'? Has the Archbishop never seen Stephen Spielberg's epic debut movie, Duel? You're never quite sure who or what is driving the truck coming after the poor guy with the moustache because no person seems to be driving it, but it might just as well be the Devil, so naturally, he flees. One fears this is a demon that the Church will have to confront even at the expense of Her liberty.

It has been said before by various Catholic commentators that the Archbishop's record so far is one of evading, quite elegantly and quite deftly, confrontation with the Government and with less than satisfactory results for the protection of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. One wonders quite how, in the near future, that cosy relationship can possibly be maintained, when men and women come to Priests asking to be married in the parish to members of the same sex and threatening to sue if they are not allowed, no matter what the Priest, the Bishop, the Pope or Almighty God Himself thinks about it. For it has to be said that it is becoming more clear that that is exactly what is down the road...

Comments

Ttony said…
A point I have made before: if priests stop being registrars, the State can't force them to do anything. We'd end up at worst (?) with the French solution of a total separation between civil marriage and the Sacrament of Marriage, or at best with the civil Registrar attending the Sacrament and doing the State's business in the vestry.
Unless someone sympathetic to the 'cause' sells the church out. But that's impossible.
Physiocrat said…
Can we expect the English bishops to go the way of the Church of Sweden that does same-sex marriages with a priestess officiating?
Hear, Here!

Wasn't there a case a few years ago of an English Catholic bishop who resigned after he had attempted to preside over some kind of "gay blessing" in a London church? My guess is that most of this man's brother bishops here in E&W were behind his decision to "celebrate the friendship" of two men, who are now civil partners - one of whom used to head Cafod, I believe!
Mater mari said…
Ttony: 'with the civil Registrar attending ... and doing the State's business in the vestry.'

This is exactly what happened when we were married in the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1962.
lms rep said…
Ttony is spot on, the Sacrament of Matrimony is not a civil contract. I rather like the French system of separate ceremonies because it avoids the possibility of this issue arising and can mean two parties (as I have experienced!).
This would also alleviate the problem with regard to the civil requirements which are not found in the 1962 Rite of Holy Matrimony.
I remember Ttony's original posting on this and have long since tried to convince others of the sheer common sense of the argument.
lms rep said…
Ttony is spot on, the Sacrament of Matrimony is not a civil contract. I rather like the French system of separate ceremonies because it avoids the possibility of this issue arising and can mean two parties (as I have experienced!).
This would also alleviate the problem with regard to the civil requirements for validity which are not found in the 1962 Rite of Holy Matrimony, which obviously are not required for the validity of the Sacrament. As there is no Sacramental possibility of homosexuals "marrying" and as the Church has officially no liturgical ceremony which can even claim to attempt to condone this, would the State be able to force the Church to invent one?
I remember Ttony's original posting on this and have long since tried to convince others of the sheer common sense of the argument.