Archdiocese of Westminster hosts talk from dissenting Catholic

The Archdiocese of Westminster has hosted a lecture by Catholic and Human Rights lawyer, Prof. Conor Gearty as part of its bi-annual ‘Faith Matters’ series that voiced significant dissent from the teachings and discipline of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality, the ordination of women and married priests.

The Tablet report indicates that Prof. Gearty expanded his criticism of the Church’s position regrading the ordination of women to a broader, frankly bizarre,  accusation that the Church wanted women to return to the home:

‘Professor Conor Gearty said the Church was denying women the right to fulfil theirvocation to become priests at huge personal cost. Professor Gearty, who teaches at theLondon School of Economics, said this was stunting their capacity to succeed in theirlives and he wondered whether the Church hoped that recent advances made by women in society was just a “passing fad”. “Do we in the Church secretly hope that women will shortly resume as the backroom mainstays of the lives and careers of men?” he said. “Is this truly the Church’s vision? I hope not.”

Protect the Pope comment: I personally don’t know of any Catholics, clergy or lay, who hopes for a reversal of the emancipation of women. For sacramental, symbolic, reasons only men can receive  orders. However, women play an irreplaceable role in the life  the Church. Mary Ann Glendon, former US ambassador to the Holy See and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, rubbishes the accusation that the Church is misogynistic, pointing out, among other things, that the vast Catholic healthcare system in the USA is run by a large number of professional women responsible for multi-billion dollar budgets.  Furthermore, women religious orders have had an enormous influence on the life of the Church.

The Tablet goes on to report that Prof. Gearty:

‘… also criticised the Church’s approach to homosexuality, stating that according to her teaching, homosexuals are allowed to “think it, feel it, but not act it”’

Protect the Pope comment: This is a gross simplification of the Church’s teaching about homosexuality. The Church sees homosexual feelings and thoughts as disordered, and homosexual acts, like all sexual acts outside marriage, as immoral.  The Church encourages  homosexuals to live a life of chastity, which would involve restraining, not allowing, sexual feelings and thoughts.  This coping with sexual thoughts and feelings isn’t restricted to homosexuals but all men and women, single and married. All of us are called to restrain inappropriate sexual thoughts and feelings. This goes back to Jesus’ teaching that a man who lusts after a women has already committed adultery in his heart.

Regarding married priests,

‘Professor Gearty also said secular human-rights campaigners were “dumbfounded” by inconsistencies in the Church’s attitude towards celibacy. Referring to married former Anglican priests joining the Catholic priesthood, he said that “a human-rights person would ask what is the rational basis for the distinction given that we acknowledge that certain married men can be priests, and others cannot.”

Protect the Pope comment: For hundreds of years the Church has had a complex attitude about married men as priests. Prof Gearty seems to have forgotten that the Catholic Church is made up of different rites, some who allow married priests and some who do not. The Latin Rite Catholic Church, of which the Church of England and Wales is part, does not, as a matter of course, allow married men as priests. For over 1,000 years the Latin rite Catholic Church has highly valued the tradition of celibate priests. However, in exceptional circumstances it does allow it on a case by case basis, as we have seen regarding Anglican ministers becoming Catholic priests. Prof. Gearty seems to ignore the fact that the Catholic Church is a communion that values unity in diversity.

Six months ago Westminster Cathedral warmly welcomed Pope Benedict during his State visit to the UK. Now during the solemn observance of Lent it has given a platform to a prominent Catholic who dissents from the Catholic faith. They had to invite Pope Benedict, they didn’t have to invite Prof. Gearty. I don’t understand how the Archdiocese can do that, it appears to be hypocrisy of the most blatant kind. Has the Archdiocese of Westminster issued a statement distancing itself from Prof. Gearty’s comments? Not that I can see.

All Catholics are called to be in full communion with the magisterium of the Church, not a bit in communion. The Catholic Church is not like the Church of England, it is not a broad church with a whole range of beliefs and opinions.  What is the primatial  Archdiocese of England and Wales doing  promoting dissent over some of the hot topic issues of our day?

I also wonder if the next series of ‘Faith Matters’ lectures will include guest speakers who strongly uphold the moral teachings of the Church, such as John Smeaton, Daphne Mcleod or Fr Tim Finigan? I doubt it. So, what is going on in the Archdiocese of Westminster?

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogmain.php?cms=0&ti=18

20 comments to Archdiocese of Westminster hosts talk from dissenting Catholic

  • Tim

    “Professor Gearty also said secular human-rights campaigners were “dumbfounded” by inconsistencies in the Church’s attitude towards celibacy”

    really? I’d be surprised if secular human rights lawyers gave this matter much thought at all. They have much more important things to worry about like why has the Holy See still not submitted its report on the rights of the Child as required by the 1998 convention of which it is a signatory. This is despite the report being 13 years overdue and the Nucio promising that it was “being finalised as we speak” a year ago.

    • Deacon Nick

      That’s pretty fast for the Holy See!!! Cardinal Schonborn said he didn’t submit his catechism for young people to Rome because it would take 15 years to get a first draft. A 2,000 year old institution takes its time.

    • louella

      Tim…..I don’t know anything about this ‘rights of the child’ report….but it makes me feel queasy. The UN regards the woman’s choice to take the life of her unborn child as a ‘right’ too….so what on earth makes anyone think they are qualified to write documents on the rights of children. I question their motives.

      The Vatican should steer clear of this godless politically and agenda driven organisation…..whose main interest is in attaining some one world government status….while diminishing and controlling the soverignty of nations (completely at odds with the Church’s doctrine of subsidiarity…and much else too!!) Let the Church write her own independant document on the ‘rights’ of the child based on the teachings of Christ and His Church….and then let all governments and institutions of good will to assent to it.

      • Tim

        Good grief Louella, How can you manage to get a rant about abortion and the Godless UN into a reply on the UN Convention on the rights of the child. Have a look at the document itself ( see http://www.unicef.org/crc/ ) and tell me how it contradictis the teaching of the Church. It doesn’t. it is a wholy comendable document that the Church actually made a significant contribution to and signed up to and which it actually uses as a tool to presure other countries to protect children from exploitation and abuse.

        The point here is that the Church (as the Holy See) signed up to the Convention voluntarity (along with every member of the UN with the exception of Somalia and the USA – both countries have since said that they will sign it). The signatories agreed to submit an annual report on steps that they are taking to safeguard rights of the child (something highly relevent for an organisation that has so much contact with children). The Church knew that that was an obligation when it signed, but it is one that it has completely disregard.

        It is simply the case of the Church making a promise under international law and then breaking that promise. Nothing to do with abortion or a UN adgenda or anything simply a case of promising to do something and then not doing it for 13+ years. If it doesn’t want to live up to the requirements of the treaty it shoudl withdraw not just tell lies about the report being “finalised as we speak”

        If the CHurch wants the privilege of being recognised as a state under international law, then it ought to demonstrate more repect for international law itself.

        • louella

          OK Tim…I will take your word for it that it doesn’t contradict the teachings of the Church….but if so then why didn’t the Church compile such a document itself….and include the rights of the unborn child too….for nations of good will to sign.

          In my opionion the Church should have more dignity than to sign any man-made charter….especially when the compilers don’t support any rights for children not yet born.

          The Church upholds God’s law…not international law….which could be based on anything. Are you trying to suggest that independant states are obliged to sign up to the UN’s decrees?! In which case you are illustrating just what I said….the UN exists to undermine national soverignty and control the world’s nation states with an undercurrent of coercion and threat. Not very liberal now is it.

          • Tim

            “but if so then why didn’t the Church compile such a document itself….and include the rights of the unborn child too….for nations of good will to sign.”

            that is a question for the church not me.

            ” Are you trying to suggest that independant states are obliged to sign up to the UN’s decrees?! ”

            Not at all, signing treaties must be voluntary. The church didn’t have to sign, teh church didn’t even have to be a member of the UN (and other churches of course are not members). It chose to do those things freely. I am just suggesting that if you do decide to sign, you should live up to your obligations. Breaking promises is dishonorable and does the Church no credit.

            “The Church upholds God’s law…not international law….which could be based on anything”

            fair enough, but the point is that in many matters there isn’t actually any disagreement between God’s law and international law. It is possible for the church to promote God’s law (for example on the issue of outlawing child slavery which is one of the things prohibited in the Convention) through the mechanisms of international law and the Vatican is actually very skilled at doing that. My only point is if they are going to play that game they should play by the rules.

            Now you manage to find promoting child education and protection from abuse and exploitation illiberal is beyond me. The UN isn’t treatening or coersing anyone here, least of all the church it just seems to distrub you that a morally good document arrose from an agency that was not the church.

          • louella

            All I can say is that the Church must have had second thoughts in her dealings with the UN. But I don’t know for sure. We can only hope.

            There may not be any disagreement over some issues….but obviously on very fundamental others there are. Let the Church get the UN to sign up to Church charters for the common good….not visa versa. The Church must never let the UN usurp her unique Divine role.

        • Tim

          “All I can say is that the Church must have had second thoughts in her dealings with the UN.”

          If that is true then the Church must do the honorable thing and withdraw from the UN or at least those conventions that it is having second thoughts about. You play by the rules of the club or you leave.

          “There may not be any disagreement over some issues….but obviously on very fundamental others there are. ”

          There is only really disagreement on a handful of issues (abortion, gays/gender, end of life, contraception). They are big issues for sure but only a handfull. It would be stupid and self-defeating for the church to lets those issues prevent consensus and progress being made on other areas (international peace, slavery, poverty, vacinations, etc etc)

          I know you would like the church to be the only powerful international organisation, but until more people are willing to let that happen, the UN, imperfect though it is, does make progress on some areas and it seems to only be your pride that is preventing you from noticing that.

          • louella

            I agree 100%……the Church should leave the UN. She is perfectly capable of drawing up documents herself based on the teachings of the Master…Jesus Christ. But the UN has ulterior motives….and an agenda at odds with the Christian vision of humanity and its destiny.

            And to say that abortion is only one of a handful of few issues on which the Church and the UN disagree shows you don’t understand the situation. If people can murder their own children in the womb….then they are capable of anything. If you can allow abortion….then there is no logical reason why you can’t allow any other inhuman behaviour. You just have to find the right fig leaf to hide behind.

        • Tim

          “And to say that abortion is only one of a handful of few issues on which the Church and the UN disagree shows you don’t understand the situation. If people can murder their own children in the womb….then they are capable of anything. If you can allow abortion….then there is no logical reason why you can’t allow any other inhuman behaviour. You just have to find the right fig leaf to hide behind.”

          I do see the logic in your reasoning here, but the church does need to be careful that it doesn’t allow the areas where it has genuine disagreement to lead to it cutting itself off from secular organisations altogether.

          It shouldn’t comprimise its deeply held beliefs but it should not cut off its nose to spite its face. I am totally gald that the Church co-operates with UN agencies in some areas where there is agreement. The church, as a provider of health care in developing countries contributed to the irradication of smallpox by cooperating with the relevent secular agencies and other health care providers. If it has refused to do that because of those secular agencies being involved in abortion and/or contraception, we might be looking at a world where smallpox was still killing people.

          To my mind the vatican signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the CHild is analogous. The Holy See is free to disagree with the other UN members on other issues but where it is in agreement it ought to cooperate for the good of mankind.

          There is an irony in your calling for the vatican to withdraw from the UN (and thereby reduce its influence). This is a mainstream secular position.

          Also the UN doesn’t have its own adgenda. Its adgenda is driven by its members including the Holy See who in involved with many of its agencies.

  • Mike2

    Unfortunately it is not only in Westminster that we have such diabolic events. In Glasgow the Head of St Aloysius College (a lay person although the College is Jesuit-run) invited Professor Thomas Groome from the USA and Professor Tina Beattie from the deep south of England. Why, oh why, can these people not invite people who are unquestionably loyal to the teaching of the Church?

  • Jonathan Marshall

    “Now during the solemn observance of Lent it has given a platform to a prominent Catholic who dissents from the Catholic faith.”

    He may be prominent, but if he “dissents from the Catholic faith” then he’s not a Catholic!

  • “Archdiocese of Westminster hosts talk from dissenting Catholic”

    But why?

    Why?

    Why?

    I just don’t get it!

  • Pedro

    “For sacramental, symbolic, reasons only men can receive orders.”

    I think we can resolve the issue of ordination of women by a simple experiment. Take five women and have them ordained by a bono fide Catholic bishop. We’ll need a control group of another five women who only think they’re being ordained (perhaps we could get an Anglican bishop to do these – as we all know, they’re not really proper bishops). Then test both groups in a double blind study to see which ones (if any) can successfully transubstantiate.

    Voila! The problem will finally be answered!

    • Deacon Nick

      And there in your usual humorous way Pedro, you come to the heart of the question for Catholics. To you I’m sure that’s ridiculous, but to Catholics its the key question. As Cardinal Hume expressed his doubts about the ordination of women, we wouldn’t know if it was a valid Mass, or as he put it, whether the words of consecration had ‘taken’.

      • Pedro

        “To you I’m sure that’s ridiculous”

        An interesting comment Nick. You clearly know why I think it’s ridiculous – an untestable power to pass on an untestable power to perform an untestable miracle – no wonder you’re scared of changing the rules.

        “we wouldn’t know if it was a valid Mass, or as he put it, whether the words of consecration had ‘taken’.”

        But how do you know it’s taken when a man receives Holy Orders? If wikipedia is to be believed, 90% of today’s RC bishops (including every Pope since Benedict XIII in 1724) can trace their place in the apostolic succession back to Cardinal Scipione Rebiba in the 16th century. Beyond that there is no written evidence. What if Cardinal Rebiba was never properly consecrated?

        • Deacon Nick

          Pedro, the one thing that really annoys me is when people attribute thoughts and feelings to me that are not my own. I’m not scared of changing the rules. I may be scared of other things, like being eaten by a Great White Shark as a result of watching Jaws when I was younger, but I’m not scared of the ordination of women. And about wikipedia, yeh that’s a reliable source isn’t it.

          • Pedro

            “And about wikipedia, yeh that’s a reliable source isn’t it.”

            I’m only relying on wikipedia for the statistic of 90% because I haven’t counted them myself. Go to

            http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/

            See how long it takes you to find a bishop who doesn’t rely on Cardinal Rebiba for his episcopal credentials. You might get lucky.

          • Deacon Nick

            Thanks Pedro, I’m learning new things about the Church everyday. She really is wonderful, that is full of wonders. Good to see that you are learning things too.

  • Lisa

    The consecration would not take place. Priests are fathers: a woman cannot be a father. Nuns are mothers: men cannot be mothers. That simple. No, there would be no transubstiation – and I am saying this seriously.

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