Fr Radcliffe is evidence, if anyone were in need of convincing, that all you have to do to be loved by readers and writers of The Tablet, is to say all the wrong things.
Of course, saying the wrong thing wins you friends in liberal Catholic circles and possibly beyond, but actually does enormous damage to those whose faith is perhaps a flickering flame and who need encouragement to strive to live lives of holiness. We all need that encouragement, but the sad things is that in modern times, it is actually not that easy to find. You have to really search for it. Sometimes, in Google.
Lay Catholic, Stephen Hough, who writes for The Telegraph may be one who perhaps finds himself on the periphery of a Church that continues to hold to the view that in no way can homosexual acts be condoned and that they are gravely contrary to the law of God and natural law.
That the Church to which one belongs should hold such a view as immovable dogma can be something of a disappointment to those with the condition of same-sex attraction. The idea that the longing for sexual intimacy with a member of the same-sex is something that will be forever illicit and forbidden is something men have had to grapple with way before today when homosexuality was rejected by society at large.
But when the Catholic Church is among the few denominations of Christianity that condemn the homosexual act as gravely sinful, when you belong to that Church and the hope that God might change His mind on the matter is still lingering within you, because you are attracted to whom you are attracted through particular no fault of your own, it means that when someone in a position of teaching authority in the Church endorses your hope, it is extremely damaging. It's a little like telling someone that the red light has gone to amber and is now green, despite the fact that its still, in fact, red.
Stephen Hough writes of Fr Timothy Radcliffe's article in The Tablet with a good measure of praise. For some reason, while Fr Radcliffe makes a concerted appeal to reason in order to defend natural marriage, he also manages to give Stephen the impression that some 'leaders' in the Church are reconsidering the Church's official teaching, so having defended natural marriage and opposed 'gay marriage', Fr Radcliffe says:
'This is not to denigrate committed love of people of the same sex. This too should be cherished and supported, which is why church leaders are slowly coming to support same sex civil unions. The God of love can be present in every true love. But "gay marriage" is impossible because it attempts to cut loose marriage from its grounding in our biological life. If we do that, we deny our humanity.'
Are Church leaders really 'slowly coming to support same sex civil unions'? Which ones? Anglican leaders? Catholic leaders? Do you mean Bishops, clergy, or 'revisionist' Dominican priests such as yourself? Because the last I heard, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explicitly condemned same-sex unions as gravely sinful, damaging to society, individuals and families and to the institutions of marriage and the family that you claim to be defending. Similarly, I haven't heard such tolerance and acceptance of same-sex civil unions from His Holiness either? Come to think of it, support in Catholic circles for same-sex civil unions comes largely from people who challenge the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in such disease-ridden organs as The Tablet.
And, for some reason, unless I am totally misreading both Fr Radcliffe's article and Stephen Hough's glowing review on his blog, these words can quite easily be read as a Dominican priest's approval of both same-sex unions and homosexual acts. Fr Radcliffe is right to say that 'gay marriage' is impossible because marriage requires two persons of different genders for unitive and procreative love.
'The God of love can be present in every true love', indeed, but that depends what is meant by 'true love' and it implicitly denies what the God of love really desires: namely our love and adoration, because that is His will. It is His will that we be happy and our own happiness is in serving and loving our Creator. As baptised persons, we are brought into share in the life of the Blessed Trinity. Our reason for living is to love God, serve God and praise God, worship God in this life and even to suffer for Him and to do so in order that we may possess Him in Eternity. Only that will make us happy in this life and in the next.
It is, quite simply, what we were born for. Only in loving God do we find freedom, happiness or anything close to rest or peace. It might also have been wise of Fr Tim Radcliffe to suggest to all those adoring readers of his that for the homosexual person, the God of love is greatly honoured, praised and glorified by embracing chastity and the self-sacrificial love that can come about only through a relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Perhaps Fr Tim Radcliffe might have praised the glory of friendship between men through which God's love is made manifest through brotherly, fraternal, pure love, because, as a Dominican priest, while his pastoral concern may be that homosexuals do not feel excluded by the Catholic Church, his moral duty is to proclaim the Gospel and draw men and women closer to God. Instead, his words are left open to the interpretation that 'gay love' in the way in which the World understands it, is love indeed, when, in fact, homosexual acts are gravely sinful and lead homosexual persons into all kinds of harm, both spiritual and temporal, and if they are not repented of, severely jeopardise the salvation of those who commit them.
Unfortunatley, because Fr Radcliffe omitted to make suggestions towards the more spiritually healthy aspects of the Christian life for a homosexual person, one homosexual, in Stephen Hough, has found in Fr Radcliffe someone who, in his mind at least, would like to offer a 'revisionist' view of the Catholic perspective on sexuality and love which manages to defend natural marriage but fall only marginally short of raising homosexual unions to near sacramental value, which, obviously, is music to the ears of such people as Soho Masses organiser, Martin Prendergast.
Of course, 'revisionist' is the wrong word since even Holy Mother Church herself has not, does not and never shall 'revise' the essential truth She proclaims on the issue of homosexuality. 'Wrong' and 'bordering on heretical' are better words. 'Dangerous to the salvation of souls' are other words which could equally be used to describe his article. As St Francis of Assisi said, 'It is sweet to the body to sin but the punishment that follows it is everlasting." Well, he said something like that.