Dissenting Catholics answer government’s call for stooges supporting gay marriage

Over the summer break a group of dissenting Catholics answered the government’s back channel call for willing stooges within the English Catholic Church to publicly support its plans for gay marriage. According to The Tablet the government approached the group of dissenters through the offices of Gay activist Peter Tatchell who passed on the message that ‘the government would find it helpful for a group of Catholics to come out in favour of gay marriage’.

The group of twenty seven Catholics lending their support to the government in opposition to Church teaching and the authority of the Bishops Conference include six Catholic priests, Fr Kevin Kelly, Fr Bernard Lynch, Fr Patrick McLoughlin, Fr. Anthony Maggs, Fr. Frank Nally, and Fr.James Alison.

The letter published in The Times states:

Sir, Not all Catholics share their hierarchy’s stated views against proposals to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples. Nevertheless, the submission by the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales to the Government’s equal civil marriage consultation indicates a growing understanding about legislating for same-sex unions, compared with its 2003 position, when it firmly opposed civil partnerships. [Protect the Pope comment: It was a serious mistake of Archbishop Nichols to go against the teaching of Pope Benedict and the Magisterium that same-sex partnerships must be opposed by Catholics because they attempted to be pseudo-marriages]

It seems to us, as Catholic laity, theologians and clergy, important to uphold some key pastoral care principles used by the Catholic Church in England & Wales. Its 1979 guidelines stated that the Church has a serious responsibility to work towards the elimination of any injustices perpetrated on homosexuals by society. [Protect the Pope comment:  It is disingenuous of the authors of this letter to set up documents of the English hierarchy as a parallel magisterium to that of the Holy See. The CDF document, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1986) takes priority over any document issued by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. It makes clear that those who propose an equivalence between homosexual activity and conjugal love put the nature and rights of the family in jeopardy (9).']

In 1997 Cardinal Hume wrote that love between two persons, whether of the same sex, or of a different sex, is to be treasured and respected. [Protect the Pope comment: But Cardinal Hume also clearly stated that the Church cannot approve of homosexual genital acts].

This respect demands that such loving relationships be afforded social recognition according to social justice principles. He proposed three criteria for considering issues of social policy: are there reasonable grounds for judging that the institution of marriage and the family could, and would be undermined by a change in law? [Protect the Pope comment: If gay marriage is legalized then the organs and institutions of the State will immediately and ubiquitously challenge and undermine the perennial understanding that marriage can only be entered into by a man and a woman. Government reassurances that this will not affect the Catholic Church are not credible]. Would society’s rejection of a proposed change be more harmful to the common good than the acceptance of such a change? [Protect the Pope comment: Gay marriage will add nothing to the legal rights already enshrined in civil partnerships, so no its rejection will not harm the common good.] Does a person’s sexual orientation or activity constitute, in specific circumstances, a sufficient reason for treating that person in any way differently from other citizens? [Protect the Pope comment: Throughout history certain sexual activities have resulted in persons being treated differently from other citizens. Sexual behaviour is not a purely private affair that has no consequences for wider society] We suggest that it is perfectly proper for Catholics, using fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. [Protect the Pope comment: This is the fundamental flaw in the position of dissenting Catholics, they make the mistake of believing that their individual consciences are infallible guides to moral truth.  They ignore the fact that 'Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt.' (CCC 1801). Conscience must be 'guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.' (CCC 1785)

The following Catholics signed this letter:


(in alphabetical order – 27 signatories)

James Alison Theologian & priest

Ruby Almeida Chair of Quest (LGBT Catholics)

Tina Beattie Theologian

Mike Castelli Educationalist

Mark Dowd Journalist

Michael Egan Chair, Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement

Maria Exall Chair, TUC LGBT Committee

John Falcone Theologian

Eileen Fitzpatrick Educationalist

Kieran Fitszimons Priest

Mary Grey Theologian

Kevin Kelly Theologian & priest

Ted Le Riche Retired educationalist

Bernard Lynch Priest

Gerard Loughlin Theologian

Francis McDonagh Lay-person

Patrick McLoughlin Priest

Anthony Maggs Priest

Lorraine Milford Lay-person

Frank Nally Priest

Martin Pendergast Chair, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality

Sophie Stanes Lay-person

Joe Stanley Lay-person

Valerie Stroud Chair, Catholics for a Changing Church

Terry Weldon Editor, Queering the Church

Matias Wibowo Lay-person

Deborah Woodman Clinical Psychologist

Protect the Pope comment: What is Archbishop Nichols going to do about the three members of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council who are publicly challenging the Bishops Conference’s opposition to government plans for gay marriage and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church? Those members are: Mark Dowd, Martin Pendergast, and Terry Weldon. Of course these individuals have the right to publicly oppose the Bishops Conference and the teaching of the Church, but they do not also have the right as public opponents of the Church’s teaching to be members of a Pastoral Council that acts in the name of a parish of the Archdiocese of Westminster.



32 comments to Dissenting Catholics answer government’s call for stooges supporting gay marriage

  • Karla

    Pope Benedict said recently,

    Judas,” said Pope Benedict, “could have left, as many of the disciples did; indeed, he would have left if he were honest. Instead he remained with Jesus. He did not remain because of faith, or because of love, but with the secret intention of taking vengeance on the Master.”

  • John

    You might also point out that these ‘Catholic theologians’ are self-appointed. True Catholic theologians are so only when they sign the ‘mandatum’ which is a declaration that they adhere to the Teachings of the Magisterium. Beattie, Grey, Kelly and Loughlin clearly do not do so and the same is true of the other priests who have signed this letter.

  • In Brazil a civil partnership has just been announced between two women and a man. The legal position was that the law formed to allowed gay marriage was insuffient to stop the rights of this polygamous arrangement. Again in just how many issues will Tina Beattie and her band exercise their `informed conscience` over the Church before they are honest enought to admit they are not really members.

    • Karla

      There was a time when homosexual marriage activists said the claim of polygamous marriage after homosexual marriage was scaremongering, turns out we were right

  • Mike2

    In Scotland, a Catholic headteacher, no less, had a letter published in the Herald newspaper announcing her dissent from the Church’s teaching on marriage:
    I had the following response published in the same newspaper:
    Caroline Campbell (Letters, Herald Aug 28) says that she does not agree with the Catholic Church on the issue of the redefinition of marriage. Mrs Campbell has got things the wrong way round. Catholics do not decide for themselves what to believe and then see if the Church agrees with them. Catholics accept that the Magisterium of the Church is divinely-appointed to teach the faith and that is how we know what teachings are true or not.
    As it says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2032) “The Church…has received the solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth. To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles …. And to make judgements on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.” CCC 2034 states: “The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are ‘authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.”
    I appreciate that people outside the Catholic Church will not agree with the above statements but it is sad when a Catholic, and especially a headteacher, seems not to agree or be familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a document formally approved by Pope John Paul II in 1992.

  • “According to The Tablet the government approached the group of dissenters through the offices of Gay activist Peter Tatchell who passed on the message that ‘the government would find it helpful for a group of Catholics to come out in favour of gay marriage’.”

    I cannot find the justification for this assertion in the article linked-to. It is a pretty damning assertion if true but I should be grateful for the actual source.

    • Deacon Nick

      Patricius, I quoted from the print version of The Tablet (18 August 2012) page 28.

      Here’s the paragraph it comes from:

      ‘One of the signatories, Fr Bernard Lynch, said a factor in the group’s decision to write the letter came after it was communicated to them via gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell that the Government would find it helpful for a group of Catholics to come out in favour of gay marriage’.

      Deacon Nick

  • Pedro

    Ah, it’s nice to be back. After a refreshing summer break of roses and wine, the delights of human achievement to be found in the Olympics and Paralympics, long nights chatting with friends on the garden decking, Protect the Pope returns to remind us what is wrong with the world.

    I was having a difficult time deciding whether you would restart by having a go at The Gays, or those who aren’t Catholic enough, Deacon Nick. How very fair and balanced of you to post an article that manages to have a go at both.

    • John

      Pedro, Why do you bother looking at this site?

    • sam mace

      Welcome back Pedro :) I know its become a news-feed for the anti gay ‘non discrimination’ movement hasn’t it :) What the Deacon has failed to report is that the former archbishop of Milan who was at one point very high up in the church in his last statement criticized the church for being 200 years behind the times. Instead of publishing something about that worthy man he chooses this piece of almost non news. The legislation will go through regardless of what the churches think and no you shall not be forced to conduct a ceremony if you don’t wish.

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Sam: It is not “anti-gay”. We are all sinners whether we have heterosexual or homosexual inclinations. We are just against encouraging sinning.

        As to Archbishop Martini I suggest you look at Fr Ray Blake’s blog.

        • sam mace

          It’s weird you don’t count heterosexual sinners in that sense as morally evil or disordered for having sexual acts? You do with Homosexuals and to me that is wrong and it is in the ‘anti gay’ camp. You say you hate the sin and not the sinner, but what if someone is a sinner because of who they are?

          • Teresa

            1) Catholics do not ‘hate’ gay people – that is a ridiculously uninformed statement
            2) the Church does not state that a homosexual has ‘sinned’ if he/she is not in an active relationship – it is not simply ‘being gay’ that is considered immoral, but entering into homosexual acts

            disagree if you wish – call us homophobic if you feel the need – but do not misrepresent what the Church teaches!

          • Teresa

            “that is a ridiculously uninformed statement”

            ………or (more likely) intentional polemic

          • Sam Mace

            I said you were anti gay and to an extent your church is anti gay and it really is. You call homosexual acts morally evil and you call being homosexual disordered. I think those who have homosexual love are just as right to express that love through sexual love as heterosexuals and it deserves our respect because homosexuality is a form of love. The church won’t even accept chaste marriages for homosexuals. Oh well as long as gay people don’t express their love then that’s okay, I’m sorry it’s a farcical position and many of the church’s followers don’t like it along with the general public. Many people will need to have sex or relations from time to time and to call someone morally evil for having that relationship with a consenting person is in my view morally evil and indefensible.

    • harry

      You missed ‘conspiracy’Pedro :)

    • Bob Hayes

      Deacon Nick is not ‘having a go at gays’. The article is about the apparent perfidy of some ordained priests and self-styled ‘prominent’ Catholics.

  • relativist

    If it is true that the Government could force catholic churches to allow same sex weddings they could also force catholic churches to allow weddings of divorced couples.

    Reminder: at present the Church does not allow church weddings of divorced couple. So how would it be different for same sex couples?

    • Bob Hayes

      Divorcees do not have a powerful lobbying group. Divorcees do not have a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010. As a consequence of the foregoing, they are in no position to challenge.

    • Teresa

      I thank you for pointing out that the Church does not allow divorcees to marry – nor are they permitted to Holy Communion (remarried or not) if they are in an active relationship

      There is strong protest that the Church “excludes” gay people – not true! It simply does not admit them to Holy Communion. It is rarely pointed out in such debates that heterosexual people in an immoral relationship are not admitted to Holy Communion either. It does not mean that neither group is welcomed in the Church or loved as human beings.

      Actually, my own statement is not strictly true – a person in an immoral relationship excludes themselves from Holy Communion.

      Not what you were getting at, I know, but illustrates my point, nonetheless

  • Nicolas Bellord

    These dissenters quote extensively from a statement by Cardinal Hume which can be found upon the Archdiocese of Westminster’s website at:


    In that statement Cardinal Hume said:

    First, the Church has always taught that the sexual (genital) expression of love is intended by God’s plan of creation to find its place exclusively within marriage between a man and a woman. The Church therefore cannot in any way equate a homosexual partnership with a heterosexual marriage.

    To ignore those two sentences and yet use parts of the remainder of Cardinal Hume’s statement to justify their stance is grossly dishonest. Those signatories who are in academia and call themselves theologians should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. It is difficult to see how they can be taken seriously in the future.

    As to your question about Archbishop Nichols I think the position is that they have not said that the Soho Masses Pastoral Council has any official standing in the Archdiocese. But the Archdiocese has done nothing to deter people from thinking they have. That is scandalous.

  • JosephMatthew

    We now know their names. Any priest who invites them to present at Catholic events is acting in bad faith.

  • Spesalvi23

    Surely nothing is wrong with our world!!
    We can fill our guts and switch on the tube!
    Any other requirements?!

    I can highly suggest the Austrian Alps as a vacation spot. I can’t be much more beautiful than that!!
    Unless you have a problem with high mountains, clean lakes and clear, blue skies.
    Simply wonderful!

    Karla had a great point. That discourse by B16 was very profound!
    If you can’t agree, be honest and leave.
    In the land of Luther, the Protestant church is already subscribing to all those dissenting points.
    Result: irrelevance and confusion amongst the flock.
    The shepherd keeps changing course and chucks his principles into the rubbish as he turns Christianity into sociology.
    Nice and cozy, no demands and no no-no’s.
    It hasn’t made the lost flock return.

  • Karla

    Off topic: Sex education has little impact on teen pregnancy as figures have remained unchanged over last 40 years


  • PlainJohn

    Would not those ‘priests’ who signed the letter be responsible to a Bishop…….hence, will those
    Bishops be having a word with them??

  • Veritas


    I have not checked all the names – but I do think that most of the priests who signed this letter are either members of religious orders or are retired. So they would not under the authority of any bishop.

    Perhaps that is why they chose to express their dissent so mischieviously.

  • SteveD

    Father Bernard Lynch (who claims to have been married to a man for 14 years) is a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA) and stated in a radio interview with Libby Purves recently that his “order protects him from the Vatican” as do the other orders for their priests who share his views. It is outrageous that he has not been laicised.

  • Pat

    Deacon Nick
    You said:-
    What is Archbishop Nichols going to do about the three members of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council who are publicly challenging the Bishops Conference’s opposition to government plans for gay marriage and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church? Those members are: Mark Dowd, Martin Pendergast, and Terry Weldon. I make it more than three:-

    Mark Dowd Journalist
    Lorraine Milford Lay-person
    Joe Stanley Lay-person
    Terry Weldon Editor, Queering the Church
    Deborah Woodman Clinical Psychologist

    are all listed members of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC)

    Michael Egan Chair, LGCM, is a Eucharistic Minister at the Soho Masses
    Martin Pendergast is no longer listed as a SMPC member but is still very active in the Masses
    Sophie Stanes Lay-person used to be on the SMPC

    Several other signatories of that letter to The Times, although not officially on the SMPC, most definitely attend the Soho Masses. Enough said. And yet Abp Nichols continues to support and protect this fifth column in the Church.

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