On Fr Timothy Radcliffe's Article for The Tablet

St Dominic: Founder of the Order of Preachers
A reader has expressed concern at my post on Fr Timothy Radcliffe. The reader expressed concern that I had made some kind of personal attack on Fr Radcliffe, that I had been especially uncharitable in my interpretation of his comments, that I had slandered him and that nothing in his article gives rise to an endorsement of homosexual acts. For my part, I have no axe to grind with Fr Radcliffe. All I did was to make commentary on what Fr Radcliffe has put in the public domain by his own volition.

My intention was to make comment on the remarks made by Fr Timothy Radcliffe in his article for The Tablet, an article which I thought was open to wide misinterpretation.

As a Catholic priest in good standing, I do not think that, at this time, when the issue of same-sex relationships is part of a highly charged debate, both within and outside the Church, Fr Timothy's remarks about the issue of should be so nuanced, ambiguous and open to misinterpretation.

I do not doubt for a second that in Stephen Hough, there is at least one person who believes that Fr Timothy offers a 'revisionist' approach to the subject which gives him hope that the Chuch's teaching on homosexuality may one day change. This is as a result of Mr Hough's having read the article by Fr Radcliffe in The Tablet.

I also questioned whether it is wise for Fr Timothy to state that 'Church leaders' are in some way revisiting and reconsidering the issue of same-sex unions, when the CDF has explicitly made the Church's position on them categorically clear. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church, as expressed through the Catechism, also makes the Church's position clear.

I do think that if Fr Timothy holds an orthodox position on this matter, then as a Priest so esteemed, especially in liberal circles, many of which hold views which counter the Church's position, then not only should his words not be open to misinterpretation, but, more than that, as a Catholic Priest, his words should be categorically clear in emphasising the Church's teaching on chastity for homosexual persons, and, indeed, all those who are not bonded by holy matrimony.

It is quite obvious to me that The Tablet consistently undermines the Church's position on sexual matters, including articifical contraception, divorce and remarriage, female ordination and homosexual partnerships and civil partnerships in general.

It is my honest opinion that, given that this is the case, Fr Timothy has even more duty not only to uphold Christian marriage (as he did, something that I acknowledged in the blogpost), but also to encourage those with a same-sex attraction to chastity, prayer and self-sacrificial love flowing from a relationship with Christ. At no point in his article did I sense that he was doing that. Instead, he was praising homosexual relationships in language which was, in my opinion, ambiguous.

As far as I am concerned, what I have written is fair comment, since what I have written is based solely on his own words which he has published in the public domain. I understand that many believe that, with the Church's pastoral care for homosexual persons having to be one which treats homosexuals with 'compassion and sensitivity', that this may be a factor in the increasingly 'nuanced' language which many Bishops, Priests and lay people use when discussing the issue. However, I considered that Fr Radcliffe's language had moved beyond the realm of 'nuance' and into the realm of ambiguity. I am quite certain that the His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI himself has, in the past, said that the Church requires all in teaching authority to use language which leaves Catholics with no doubt or confusion as to the Church's teaching in its entirety, and in particular, that:

“It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate."

Comments

Anne said…
An excellent response. Well done.
Anonymous said…
What a load of bs. Its perfectly clear what Fr.Timothy Radcliffe was implying. A quick flick through his books reveals more of the same. Always pushing the envelope but never going over that invisible line where he's caught in print openly defying Church teaching. Another consummate politician who keeps himself just this side of orthodoxy. Personally I admire Tina more because at least she doesn't mince her words.

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe follows George Tyrell's advice very well to work within the faith weakening it from the inside as does the Tablet. As a priest and ex-leader in the Dominicans it should be a simple matter (very simple matter) to quote the Catechism, scripture and the Church fathers on Church teaching on marriage and homosexuality but its beyond him. Instead he writes a typically ambiguous piece pushing the envelope. If anyone "misinterprets" him he only has himself to blame.

What we seem to have is a situation where lay bloggers, priest bloggers et al have absolutely no problem whatsoever finding the right material and doing the research to quote Church teaching on marriage and homosexuality but someone with an esteemed position in the Church who can't do the same. The question then has to be asked, what exactly does he believe?. At best he is either luke warm or confused at worst he's decided the Church is wrong the Magisterium is wrong and he can no longer repeat the creed hand on heart. Why all the fuzzy words?.

BJC
Kevin said…
I would like to quote Fr Timothy Radcliffe, from The Tablet of 28 Jan 2006. He wrote:-
“Let us glance at some touchy issues: sexual ethics, homosexuality and the ordination of women. Christian morality is not mostly about sex, despite the impression given by the media. It is fundamentally about becoming free and happy in God. But if the Church's teaching about sex becomes radically out of touch with what Catholics live, then there is a problem. Many Catholics are divorced and remarried, or living with partners or practising contraception or are gay. To put it simply: should the Church accommodate her teaching to the experience of our contemporaries or should we stick by our traditional sexual ethics and risk becoming a fortress Church, a small minority out of step with people's lives? Neither option seems right. In my book, I confess that I do not know the answer.”

In the same article he asks the question about homosexual people:- “Are they to be told that they must for ever be celibate?” He answers it by saying “I must confess that I do not know”. On the ordination of women, he asks the question “Is it then true that women cannot be ordained?” and again answers by saying “I confess for a third time that I do not know”.

While Fr Radcliffe doesn’t seem to know an awful lot about Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching, he apparently seems to be clearer on ‘gay’ issues, according to a report on the Catholic World News website dated 6 April 2006, which quoted him as saying the following at an event:-

“I'm afraid I'm an old-fashioned traditional Catholic, and I believe that's the wrong place to start. We begin by standing by gay people, as they hear the voice of the Lord that summons them to a life of happiness. We accompany them as they wrestle with discovering what this means and how they should walk, and this means letting our imaginations be stretched open to … watching Brokeback Mountain, reading gay novels, having gay friends, making our beliefs of our hearts and our minds delighting in that being…”

CWR also ran a very good article on Fr Radcliffe by James Hitchcock, called 'The False Prophet', showing his modus operandi - deploring divisions in the Church, while busily sowing them. I don't know if it's online but I urge people to read it.
Perhaps a few references to Fr Timmy's [echoes of Southpark] sermons and articles will clarify his position ?
But - maybe they won't until one realises the context, the circumstances or the structure of the audience?

Might I remind everyone of the latest 'positive reframing' of same-sex mutual masturbation [as referred to in Warwick Street bidding prayers] as 'life affirming'.

..and I trust everyone has heard the latest from Catholic Voices on the issue re the arguments against Same-Sex marriage :

"The impression has been created that the case against same-sex ‘marriage’ arises out of
religiously-sanctioned disapproval of homosexuality. This frame, which has been encouraged
for obvious reasons by advocates of same-sex marriage, is false for a number of reasons."

...as someone who has many homosexual friends - I disapprove of homosexuality - in fact I hate it - despise it and abhor it in that it denies my, beautiful, caring, wonderful friends the ability for their awe-inspiring love to overflow into new life - that they are denied that ability to participate in a love which can unify souls and share in that act where we can be most like God...

Their crosses are immense...their burden is one of the heaviest.

..and frankly I want to find the person from Catholic Voices...

[who wrote that contemptible dismissal of the alienation, disenfranchisement & deprivation that same-sex attraction brings]

...and knock their block off!
Joseph Vella said…
Its high time that the Catholic Church cleans up house even to the extent that from one billion members, run down to a few true Catholic Believers.
Pelerin said…
I have just reread this whilst trying to find out more about Fr Timothy Radcliffe. Having discovered from the A & B website that the key speakers at the 50th anniversary celebrations will be this particular Priest and Rowan Williams former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury my initial looking forward to the event has considerably dampened.

In August 1965 I went to the enthronement of the first Bishop, Bishop David Cashman, in Arundel cathedral and have just found the leaflet of the Mass. A magnificent celebration with the rite being described as 'taken substantially from the ancient Pontificals used at Canterbury about 1400.' All in Latin of course but we could follow the words in English in the leaflet provided so problem there.

I fear next year's celebrations in the amex stadium will be considerably different from this wonderful dignified High Mass of 50 years ago and I hope there will be an alternative prayerful celebration elsewhere which some of us could attend instead. Preferably without the gaudy t-shirts too!