Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Church Will Not Give the Government "An Easy Ride" on Gay Marriage

"This will cost you, mate."
Among the condemnations from a handful of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales has been a comment from our own Bishop of Arundel and Brighton that the Church will not give the Government an "easy ride" on David Cameron's Conservative Conference pledge to support what has become known as 'gay marriage'.

His Lordship also said of the move, "We can’t just let this slide by and say we are not interested." His comments in defense of the institution of marriage are encouraging. It is important that the Government is never given "an easy ride" when either the Church, or the fundamental Christian values that underpin society are either violated or in danger of being violated.

The Bishop's comments support the defense made by Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, both of whom condemned the Prime Minister's very public coming-out in endorsement of homosexual marital rights. The PM appeared to suggest he supports the proposal "because" he is a Conservative. Quite what he is trying to 'conserve' if he cannot 'conserve' marriage as being between one man and one woman, one can only imagine. Perhaps he should focus on the economy, since, let's face it, that would appear to be a higher priority than redefining marriage.  We can only assume that Mr Cameron is only interested in "conserving" the four-party love affair with Stonewall. It turns out, after all, that at the last general election a vote for the Conservative Party, for a Catholic, and a vote for the Green Party, for a Catholic, were both equally abominable to God and, henceforth, look as if they always will be.

Unless, that is, the Prime Minister can be persuaded that popularity for his cause has only minority appeal and that he is morally and politically absolutely in the wrong. Will he outdo his predecessor in his intransigence in the face of his own grievous error? Only time will tell. However, we have more than one Bishop making it clear that the Government will not be given "an easy ride".

Be afraid, David. Be very afraid...
The problem we face, unfortunately, is that the comment by His Lordship does rather suggest that on every other issue on which Bishops have been called by Christ to battle for His Church, the Government of the day has been given "an easy ride". The comment suggests that, as His Lordship said in a recent article in The Catholic Herald, the militancy of some in the gay lobby in their demands for gay marriage is "a step too far".

Yet, for the life of me, I cannot see why the Bishops should make such a great exception for this.  Was not the Civil Partnerships Act enacted under the Labour Government, also a "step too far"? Not, seemingly, for His Lordship, who maintains that even though such legislation was condemned at the highest level of the Church, for its approval of homosexual acts, the Civil Partnerships Bill apparently had the 'support' of the Catholic Church. His Lordship was described as believing, by The Telegraph that...

'...the Catholic Church supported civil partnerships, which confer the same rights to gay couples as marriage, because they give better legal protection to individuals in matters including inheritance.'    

Now, it may be that, misguidedly and in the face of Vatican disapproval, the Bishops of England and Wales supported Civil Partnerships, but it is not true that the Catholic Church supported civil partnerships.  Furthermore, and rather unfortunately, the Bishop's words suggest that whether the issue was Civil Partnerships Bill, the Equalities Bill, the Catholic's Early Sexualisation Bill (CES) proposed by Ed Balls, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, or the dreadful blueprint for the implementation of Nazism - the Mental Capacity Bill - all of them, bar Ed Ball's CES "easy rider", became the law of the land.

Did the Bishops allow those nasty pieces of legislation to be given "an easy ride" and did the Bishops Conference of England and Wales "let it slide and say "we are not interested"? After so many years of either acquiescence, indifference or scandalous support for anti-Catholic legislation under the Labour Government, in which the Church was either grossly naive about the intentions of those behind it, or indifferent to the consequences, why should any Government fear the Catholic Church because, apparently, this time, after all that evil legislation, the Church won't give the Government "an easy ride"? I am quite certain that the Government has far more trust in the Bishops Conference of England and Wales than do the Catholic faithful, sad as that may be.

Vroom, vroom: The 1969 cult classic, Easy Rider
It also begs the question, just how does the Catholic Church in England and Wales intend to combat this should the Government go ahead with the Cameron plan to support 'gay marriage'. Do the Bishops have enough, and I hate to say this, credibility among the lay faithful to call upon an army of them to fill the streets in protest against the Government's attempts to redefine marriage? Or are the Bishops now so distant from the laity, and even their own clergy, that the laity would be unsure of how to react to such a call, because they're knowledge of their own Bishop is so tenuous and they are not quite sure who their Bishop is?  It will be no surprise to readers to learn that I would be among the first to join such a protest were it to be called. We are, after all, the Church Militant.

Or, alternatively, are the Bishops saying that the Government will not be given an "easy ride" because they, personally, will be a thorn in the Government's side by making public pronouncements against the Government's plans and intend to speak out in various committees? I find it confusing. There is no point in making empty threats and gestures. Furthermore, we have been given reassurances by the Bishops Conference that we need not worry because they are "on the case" and are fighting on our behalf, or rather Christ's behalf, only to hear later of some degree of complicity, acquiescence or indifference among the Bishops towards the fight. I do hope and pray that His Lordship is right and that the Bishops will fight to conserve the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman, but I, for one, am not filled with confidence. Perhaps, God willing, this will turn out to be a watershed moment for the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
It looks like Mr Cameron has this one sewn up...

The Bishops should require neither imagination nor the gift of prophecy to realise that unless this is defeated, Priests could be hauled before a court years down the line, once, as the 'lobby' intends, the refusal of marital 'rights' to homosexuals in Churches becomes illegal. What will the Bishops be saying then? That the Government won't have "an easy ride" on this one as we witness the car crash that is 'down the road'? They must realise that, aside from the surprisingly reasonable (on this subject) Peter Tatchell, the pressure groups advocating and campaigning for gay marriage will most likely not be content until this terrible situation comes to pass.

Doubtless this blogpost will attract criticism because once again I am posting on the subjects of homosexuality and gay marriage and I am obviously 'obsessed' with the subject. Yet, if the World were not so obsessed by it, the Church's Pope, Shepherds, Clergy and lay faithful would not feel so utterly compelled to react against it. I am sure others have written it before, but it is not the Pope or the Catholic Church that is obsessed with sex. It is the World that is obsessed with sex. Because the World is so obsessed with sex, the Church must respond when the World's obsession with sex becomes so dominant and out of control that even marriage itself is under threat and the obsession becomes so all-embracing of society that marriage itself is seen as in need of redefinition, just so that one vociferous minority group feels 'accepted', 'tolerated' and totally 'equal' to married, monogamous persons who bear fruit and raise children as befits the natural law.

There is no doubt that the Bishops of England and Wales, or at least those who have spoken out publicly against the move so far, are looking to find new ways in which to present the Church's view in the new debates taking place, especially among those with power and influence, over human sexuality and marriage. As A Reluctant Sinner has noted in his excellent blogpost on the subject today, Archbishop Vincent Nichols used a recent Catholic Voices event to argue the need for the Church to "reframe" the debate in the terms of "human ecology" used by Pope Benedict XVI. At the said event, two publications, both co-written by Austen Ivereigh, were launched to proclaim to the World the ineffable goodness of the Catholic Voices project and its new and intriguing vision of "Catholic humanism".  The Archbishop must be commended for his stance and especially his public endorsement of Benedictine theology. Will this convince MPs that this is one 'road' down which they do not wish to walk?

Our Lady of Fatima: Pray for us...
Catholic Voices

The Church needs strong 'Catholic voices' now from the Bishops Conference, from the Priesthood, from Religious and from the Laity. Time, I would suggest, is running out. The Church, today, does not require Catholics to come out as gay and defend their homosexuality - there are already plenty of them who do. The Church needs Catholics who are gay, or who rather carry the Cross of homosexuality, to come out as Catholic and defend the Church from the grave errors of the World.  These voices need to be coherent, strong, bold, brave, unflinchingly faithful to the Magisterium and they need to be heard from the lips of those who are ready to lose everything for Christ in this World, so that they may merit to keep their souls in the next.

If strong Catholic voices are not heard in defense of the Church now, when She is so under attack from the secular World, even a 'Christian' Prime Minister, then, believe me, those who are charged with a duty to defend Her, but who refuse, will not be given "an easy ride" by Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Last Day.  Those charged with responsibility by Almighty God within the Hierarchy of Holy Mother Church to defend Her so far have, with only a few exceptions, proved themselves 'unfit for mission'. With God's help, may they learn from their grave mistakes and may we assist them with our prayers and our own supporting role in this new phase of the Church's battle for hearts, minds and above all, souls.

I suppose that one problem for the Archbishop of Westminster in his fight against this proposal might be those Soho Masses, what with one of the organisers of the said Masses, Martin Prendergast, being something of an apologist (to put it mildly) for the gay marriage rights movement within the Catholic Church. But really, we must now all "hold" our "tongues" because there is absolutely no contradiction between the 'pastoral work' of the Archdiocese of Westminster and combatting any forthcoming Government campaign to legalise gay marriage.  Still, let us give the Archbishop time and see what is down the road. Maybe the Bishops should take a line out of David Cameron's Conference speech as he assessed the Conservative agenda for the economy and make it their own: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog!" Go get 'em, your Lordships! You certainly have my prayers.


Tom said...

I don't think any one accuses you of excessive prurience so much as rank hypocracy; an unmarried 'out' man who constantly hammers those who have the (ahem) audacity not to feel ashamed for who they are. Crazy eh

The Bones said...

Sorry, I don't believed I have 'hammered' anyone. Except heretics - that is, those who deny the Magisterium of the One True Church.

Anne said...

A good post. Thank you for raising this important issue.

Mike said...

If someone has a homosexual orientation but follows Church teaching and does not engage in homosexual behaviour, where is the hypocrisy if that person thinks that others in the same situation should do the same? Seems that Tom is a bit confused. His argument seems to be along the same lines as saying that heterosexuals who believe that they should only engage in sex with their spouse are guilty of hypocrisy if they do not approve of adultery.

On the subject of the English and Welsh Bishops not giving the government an easy ride I seem to recall that some years ago the Bishops were successful in preventing the government imposing quotas of non-Catholics attending Catholic schools. If that success was, indeed, due to the Bishops, it seems to have been achieved by direct lobbying of the Government minister. That seems to be the model which the English and Welsh Bishops rely on. However, it may be a model which has reached its sell-by-date. Given the powerful (and very different) lobbying methods employed by those on the other side it may be time to adopt a different strategy: one which mobilises the laity.

Here in Scotland, the Bishops have been very active.

However, the ‘threat’ of withdrawing Catholic support from the SNP is one which would have more credibility if Catholics in their thousands responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation with an overwhelming ‘NO’. The Bishops do not command the laity in how they vote. So, instead of making what might amount to an empty ‘threat’, it might be more productive if the laity were to show in their thousands that they are opposed to the proposed legislation. The Bishop of Paisley has started the ball rolling by issuing a Pastoral Letter. Perhaps all other Bishops could do the same. That might show that they are serious about not giving an easy ride.

The Bones said...

Tom, if you don't like what I write, why come and read it, let alone comment on it. I don't like Tina Beattie's blog, for what she writes, and so seldom read it. It doesn't make sense. One can only assume you are trolling.

The Bones said...

btw, Tom, regarding heresy, I was aiming it at those inside the Church who deny that which has been passed on in the Apostolic Tradition - the Deposit of Faith.

Patrick said...

Bishop Conry is wrong to imply Catholic support for civil partnerships, even among the Bishops of England and Wales. In his 2003 submission in response to the Government's consultation, Bishop John Hine said that the CBCEW "strongly oppose[d]"the proposals.

The Bones said...

Tom, I don't publish comments that are widely off the mark of Catholic Teaching.

What is the date of my last comment on one of Tina's post btw? I imagine its a similar date as to when I stopped reading her blog.

georgem said...

Well, Tom, we should all be ashamed of who we are. We are sinners plain and simple in one way or another. The Catholic faith is about avoiding occasions of sin, not celebrating it.

We fail time and again because we are weak and it's easier to give into our feelings and desires. This does not justify actions which harm ourselves and our souls.

If The Bones will permit I would like to reproduce a comment posted by Fr. Sean Coyle on Fr Ray Blake's blog.

"The experience of Lord Molyneaux of Northern Ireland when Belsen was liberated . . . . .:

'The most moving experience came on the second morning as I was walking from what had been the luxury SS barracks which our troops had transformed into a hospital. My attention was drawn to two packing cases covered by a worn red curtain. A young Polish priest was clinging to this makeshift altar with one hand, while celebrating Mass. Between his feet lay the body of another priest who probably died during the night. No one had had the energy to move the body.

'I had no difficulty in following the old Latin Mass, having been educated at St James's Roman Catholic School in County Antrim, and, although an Anglican, I had gained a working knowledge of all the rituals. Still supporting himself against the altar, the young priest did his best to distribute the consecrated elements. Some recipients were able to stumble over the rough, scrubby heathland.

'Others crawled forward to receive the tokens and then crawled back to share them with others unable to move. Some almost certainly passed on to another - probably better - world before sunset. Whatever one's race or religion one can only be uplifted and impressed by that truly remarkable proof of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.' "

Keep that image in your mind. Now ff to the picture of Pride marches in Brighton with semi-naked men parading in s&m gear, others got up as grotesque pantomime dames.

Two kinds of audacity. Your choice.

The Bones said...

Tom, okay, okay, you're right. I don't publish the comments which are widely off the mark of Catholic teaching AND the comments of people who are obviously of ill will.

Why should I? Just so that I can publish those comments where you slate me or slander me for no particularly good reason, other than the fact that I am a chap of a homosexual orientation who sometimes posts in defense of the Church's position?

Do me a favour, Tom, and clear off. Your comments won't be published here. You may just as well be sending me emails.

Toby said...

Tom, I detect no shame in this post, just strong will supported by the Grace of God and a strong faith; a wondeful example of our ability to be more than just the desires of our flesh and witness that freedom consists in not being free to do whatever we want, but free to do what we ought.

Tom said...

Laurence, I don't have your email - sorry for the slander, I wasn't trying to be cheap. I don't care who or what you are, God loves everyone. You'd do well to remember that sometimes too I think. But you are incorrect when it comes to heresy. In general you over use and abuse the term, you seem to think anyone you don't like is guilty of heresy for those reasons. Heresy isn't about you and me, it's part of Church law (i.e. it's an institutional claim, it has to do with violating laws of the Church council AFTER having been issued with a writ to desist, it isn't disobeying the pope in general, or not believing in God - all those things would be described as other sins)

The Bones said...

Apology accepted, but I think that if a Catholic is expressing something contrary to what the Church teaches through the Magisterium, then that is heretical e.g a Catholic saying abortion is okay, homosexual acts are okay, adultery is okay. I'd have thought that any belief which deviates from the Church's teaching can be termed 'heretical'.

Tom said...

"any belief which deviates from the Church's teaching can be termed 'heretical'."

Not at all. Actually heresy is an inexact science, but it is really only applied to sects. It is only when a group of people of the same opinion have advanced a *positive* theological claim against the Church's teachings that heresy begins. The heretic is then he who chooses to accept this positive claim (he ceases to be orthodox and becomes heterodox). N.B. by positive claim I mean they assert something to be true and believe that this truth now forms an essential part of God's plan. They will say, e.g. that Christ had a son or something like that and defend this not by saying 'why not/we don't know he didn't' but by asserting that this was communicated to a heterodox priest/by asserting the truth of a heterodox document that makes the claim. Merely believing that 'God has bigger fish to fry than punishing gays' isn't heresy, at most it's simple doctrinal confusion. One could only be a heretic here by proposing some new and (generally) revealed theological doctrine that is defended against the position of the church]

Note also what the Catholic encyclopaedia says of heresy:

"Apostates and heretics are irregular, that is, debarred from receiving clerical orders or exercising lawfully the duties and rights annexed to them; they are infamous, that is, publicly noted as guilty and dishonoured." - so this is quite a rare and certainly a formal denouncement, it is not met with by the typical lay-Catholic in error. Secondly, while disobeying the Pope is not synonymous with heresy, the Pope can himself be heretical:

"The pope himself, if notoriously guilty of heresy, would cease to be pope because he would cease to be a member of the Church"

While heresy is generally revealed "after trial by an ecclesiastical court" it can be revealed informally in a sort of 'citizen's arrest', but in these cases may only be revealed by "a bishop acting ex informata conscientia, that is, on his own certain knowledge, and dispensing with the usual procedure" - so 'we' still can't call anyone a heretic if they have not been labelled as such by the appropriate authorities. In any case, homosexuality is not nor has it even been defined as a heresy, it is not a doctrinal matter

The Bones said...

Would anyone else like to take Tom up on his definition?

I would argue that someone who advances something contrary to the Church's teaching would necessarily be denying some important doctrinal truth and thereby be enthralled to some particular heresy.

For example, we are taught that the Church cannot err in matters of Faith and Morals because Her Founder was both Man and God and, more importantly, because this God-Man promised that the Holy Spirit would lead Her 'into all truth'.

Therefore, in order to propose something contrary to that of the Church's teaching, or, to propose the opposite, one has to propose that either God has lied, in the Person of Jesus Christ, or that Jesus Christ was not God and Man, or that the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Holy Church is a myth.

Therefore, either ones own personal hardness of heart, and sin, or likely a heretical notion concerning Christ's nature, both fully human and divine, is to blame.

It all rests on Who Jesus Christ is. Most, if not all heresies, are intrinsically linked, to our beliefs.

The big problem today is liberalism, which has a habit to suggest that all 'truths', religions and ways of thought are valid and equal. This is certainly not what Our Lord said and it is certainly not what the Apostles, or SS Peter and Paul, said.

Liberalism has a tendency to deny Christ's divinity or over-emphasise His humanity at the expense of His Divinity. Hence liberals will say that Our Lord was a revolutionary, or a prefigure to Marx, or a socialist, or a feminist, or something else that is merely human.

A Catholic should say, 'Holy Church has spoken, the matter is settled' on Faith and Morals because the believer trusts, rightly, that God has spoken through His Church.

The Bones said...

To positively believe something contrary to what the Church teaches, puts the individual in error. The individual places himself, in his own mind, above the mind of the Church and therefore the holy decrees of God. How can that person, therefore, be surprised, should someone call him or her heretical in his or her beliefs. He or she has placed himself in emnity to the Church that Christ Himself established to reconcile man with God, to be Teacher of the nations and to lead men and women to salvation. The 'double-effect' is that that man, were he Catholic, cannot bring other men and women to the saving knowledge of Christ, because he or she cannot bring himself, or herself to this saving knowledge of Christ. He does, in fact, 'lock the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven to others and he himself does not enter.'

Now, concerning homosexuality, what we as Catholics believe is that, as a condition, it is a heavy Cross which many carry, but that God gives us the Sacraments to give us grace and strength to travel through this vale of tears, even joyfully. Even if a man should fall, he can return as the Prodigal Son. But the Church can never approve homosexual acts nor give Her blessing to same-sex relationships or redefine the nature of marriage, which is sacramental, a sacrament raised high by Christ to a new and glorious dignity. This is an affront to the Church, an attack on Her freedom and liberty and a assault upon society itself.

The Bones said...

Finally, Tom, I would argue strongly that depending on our belief about WHO Jesus Christ was and is and always will be, so also will our belief about Church teachings vary. For if He is raised from the dead and reigns at the right hand of the Father, then He, through the power of the Sacraments can change and transform our lives. If He died as other men die and nothing more, then 'our faith is in vain'. Then, He cannot transform our lives with His grace.

It is how and what we believe about Our Lord that will decide whether we see the Church's teachings, including those on sexuality, as a positive, or a negative. It is upon our belief about Him and indeed His Blessed Mother, that we shall be able to accept the precepts of the Church with humility and love, or whether we reject those precepts as foolishness and 'intolerable' language.

The Bones said...

For it is us, in every generation, who need to change. Not Christ or His Church.

Tom said...

Laurence, nothing you've said is incorrect, but none of it has anything to do with how the Church herself defines heresy. When it comes to liberalism, I would suggest you show something of that spirit yourself by believing that all people, no matter how removed from church power, can go round deciding for themselves what a heresy is. In fact, that pretty much makes YOU a heretic (it is basically Luther's sin - you feel competent to determine the mind of God based on evidence you have yourself independently examined).

Also, you say 'liberalism' is the belief "all 'truths', religions and ways of thought are valid and equal." Not really, to cut it short, just look on Wikipedia/any encyclopedia of Political Philosophy etc. It is a belief in constitutional representation and individual emancipation, so basically it is the principle underpinning every nation on earth aside from Iran, North Korea and a few other places I wouldn't want to be stuck in for any length of time.

Finally, when it comes to your claim that 'liberals' believe that all religions are valid and equal, I'm not really sure what you mean or how it relates to heresy. As I said before, quoting the Catholic Encylopedia, Christian heresy quite specifically DOES NOT apply to other faiths. A Jew is NOT a heretic, you can only be a heretic by being incorporated into the Church and then starting or supporting a sect that seeks to split or challenge its authority. That is why the crime is seen as such a grave one - merely not believing in the Christian God does not make you a heretic (otherwise the Church would quite logically have to stop investigating heresy over here and go over to India, China, Pakistan etc etc etc where they would find many billions of heretics). But anyway, I don't know what liberals claim all religions are equally true! Certainly I've never read anyone who claims this - how could they? Religions are mutually exclusive. If Islam is 'true', Christianity is not. If Christianity is 'true', Hinduism is not. I think you mean to say that philosophical liberalism suggests that, irrespective of the truth of a creed, its adherents are entitled to free right of worship and protection from prejudice. Do you really have a problem with that? If you do then you might want to move - remember, you don't actually live in a Catholic country, so your own right to worship comes from liberalism

The Bones said...

Tom, your reply confirms everything I said.

The Teaching of the Church, Infallible as it is, received by God Himself, both to the Apostles in the Person of Jesus Christ, and to the Church Herself through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, cannot err.

Therefore it is you in error, not I. I have no objection to the Magisterium, nor to the Church's Holy Doctrines concerning Our Lord. You addressed nothing in concern to the true nature, or rather to the Divine and Human nature of Our Lord. Upon this rests all belief concerning Holy Church and Her Doctrines. I do have no hesitation in calling you a heretic, as I am free do so - because you believe you know better than Holy Mother Church - who has spoken through the Catechism.

My calling you a heretic makes no difference to you either spiritually or temporally since I am in no position to do so, but as much as a man in the street can call another man a thief or a brigand, so I can call you a heretic. For that is what you are.

Tom said...

What exactly did I do or say that was heretical? BTW, your 'argument' consists in tedious repetition of praise for the church recited by any loon who isn't sure they really believe something. As a wise man once said, a stupid friend of the Church is her worst enemy - anyone who encounters your defence of the faith may be left thinking all Catholics are stupid, irrational bores who cower behind empty words and self-deception. This debate is pointless, you can't answer a simple question or acknowledge a simple Catholic document. You're so convinced you are correct you are almost dangerous - I will pray for the release of your soul to heaven, as it stands it's going the other way

The Bones said...


Beneath the Catechism of the Catholic Church I can, in agreement, sign my name. You, perhaps cannot. That doesn't make me any better a person than you, for I am a sinner, it is just that I believe firmly and truly that the teachings of Christ are the same as that of His Church. This, you cannot say. Your teachings, whatever they are, are your own.

That is what makes you a heretic.

Tom said...

Well, let's see. Men I've had sex with = 0.That makes me less of a heretic on your definition. But you carry on pouring your poison. Like my priest says, 'those recent converts.... you've got to watch them. They always have a....hidden agenda'.

georgem said...

You have much to say that is interesting, Tom. Have you thought of starting up your own blog?
In the meantime, the substantive issue of this post remains the same.

Toby said...

Tom, you're reasoning is a little bit disingenous there.

Just because I've sinned does not mean that I'm a heretic. I have done thousands of things which I know to be against the teaching of the Church, which teaching I fully subscribe to. That doesn't make me a heretic, it possibly makes my a hypocrite, but in reality just somebody who needs to work harder at their faith.

Now to deny that I have sinned and damaged my relationship with Christ when I go against the teaching of HIS Church - surely that is heretical behaviour? In the same way to deny that others are sinning when they engage in such behaviour is heretical and furthermore uncharitable to the sinner because I fail to alert him to his behaviour which is damaging for him.

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