One thousand Catholic priests warn gay marriage threatens the return of persecution

One thousand Catholic priests have signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph warning that David Cameron’s plans to legalize same-sex marriage threaten the return of the persecution of Catholics in the UK.

The priests write: “After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.

“Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

“It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.”

Arguing that marriage as traditionally understood is “the foundation and basic building block of our society”, they add: “We urge Members of Parliament not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear.”

This is a grass roots initiative among our priests. Rev Mark Swires, one of the organisers, said it had taken weeks to compile the signatures but that it showed the strength of opinion in the pews. This is a grass roots initiative by priests, it isn’t an initiative by the hierarchy of the church.”

The Daily Telegraph reports:

In one of the biggest joint letters of its type ever written, they raise fears that their freedom to practise and speak about their faith will be “severely” limited and dismiss Government reassurances as “meaningless”.

They even liken David Cameron’s moves to redefine marriage to those of Henry VIII, whose efforts to secure a divorce from Katherine of Aragon triggered centuries of bloody upheaval between church and state.

They claim that, taken in combination with equalities laws and other legal restraints, the Coalition’s plans will prevent Catholics and other Christians who work in schools, charities and other public bodies speaking freely about their beliefs on the meaning of marriage.

Even the freedom to speak from the pulpit could be under threat, they claim.

And they fear that Christians who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would effectively be excluded from some jobs – just as Catholics were barred from many professions from the Reformation until the 19th Century.

The comments are contained in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, signed by 1,054 priests as well as 13 bishops, abbots and other senior Catholic figures.

They account for almost a quatrer of all Catholic priests in England and Wales.

Last night the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip Egan, one of the signatories, insisted that the comparison with the penal laws was “dramatic” but not an exaggeration.

“It is quite Orwellian to try to redefine marriage,” he said.

“This is strong language but something like this totalitarian.

“I am very anxious that when we are preaching in Church or teaching in our Catholic Schools or witnessing to the Christian faith of what marriage is that we are not going to be able to do it – that we could be arrested for being bigots or homophobes.”

Rev Dr Andrew Pinsent, a leading Oxford University theologian, who also signed the letter, said: “We are very sensitive to this historically because of course the reformation started in England as a matter of marriage.

“Henry VIII could have been forgiven for his adultery but he didn’t want to do that, he wanted to control marriage and redefine what was a marriage and wasn’t.

“Because the Church would not concede that point, that launched three centuries of great upheaval in English society, and from the Catholic point of view life was very difficult.

“We fear that what is happening now is that a network of laws are being put in place which would violate our freedom of conscience.”

He added: “I think people in the Westminster bubble have underestimated the level of concern in the country – at a local level there is great concern about these things.”

Protect the Pope comment: Through ordination bishops and priests participate in a unique way in the munus regendi of Christ, Christ’s power of leadership. This letter to the Daily Telegraph from over one thousand priests and bishops is a powerful expression of the munus regendi at work in the Church of England and Wales.  We pray to God that it will be heeded by the politicians of our country, be they Catholic or not, and in particular by those Catholic politicians who are supporting gay marriage, such as Ian Duncan Smith and John Gummer.

This is a great day for the Catholics of England and Wales, which we should thank God for, because our priests are uniting at last to publicly lead God’s people in defence of the faith. As a deacon it is an honour to be able to assist our priests in this work of witness given us by the times in which we live. Deacon Nick Donnelly



25 comments to One thousand Catholic priests warn gay marriage threatens the return of persecution

  • Joseph Matthew

    In the sixties, a certain “leading Catholic” politician persuaded the Catholic bishops to keep quiet on abortion in case it became a Catholic issue. What a disaster that was! In the most immoral piece of legislation since the 1967 abortion act, the bishops and clergy are doing what they should be doing.

  • John

    This is a really excellent initiative and effectively counter-acts that handful of priests who signed the notorious letter to The Tablet supporting homosexual “marriage” as well the Call to Action priests.

  • paul

    Is the list of the names of the priests that signed it anywhere? Would love to know if my priest signed it.

    • Fr Francis Coveney

      If your parish priest did not sign the letter, it might be because he did not hear of it. I did not sign the letter – but only because I did not hear of it.

      So if all the priests in the country had heard of the letter, there may well have been many more than the already very impressive number of 1,054 signatures.

      • Dr Mark Thorne

        Dear Father Francis, you are surely right. I am pleased to say that the same situation applies to my own priest.

        With thanks to call those priests and clergy in the Catholic Church, including the Ordinariate, who have shown the courage to sign this letter. God Bless, Mark

  • Gervase Crouchback

    all i can think of -seeing as we here in Australia both catholic and non catholic christians-will invariably face white persecution before the red ,given our hedonism,irreligion,and lack of compassion is the Prayer to st michael.

    “Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
    by the Divine Power of God -
    cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
    who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

    Amen. ”

    God Bless my British Brethren -comrades in the fight for the soul of our respective countries

  • God bless our priests! Perhaps someone could organise a letter of support now to be signed by all faithful Catholic laypeople to counteract the usual suspects whom the establishment media will doubtless wheel out to show dissent.

  • John Scotson

    The priests are to be commended and supported for their stance in support of the truth

  • Lynda

    Civil partnership legislation recognised homosexual relationships in the same way as marital relationships for most purposes. The persecution of those who stand against such objective evil is well under way.

    • Michael Petek

      The Henrician and Elizabethan persecutions were an episode which the nation was able to survive, because marriage and the family remained intact. Today, they are under clear and present danger. If a society withdraws its support from monogamous marriage and the family based upon it, then social chaos will follow within three generations. For this reason, we Christians must not ‘turn the other cheek’ to our persecutors. If push comes to shove, we will have to be unabashed in declaring that Her Majesty will have our full support should she decide to overthrow a persecuting government.

  • ms Catholic state

    Thank you 1.000 priests. It is time the whole raft of consequences of gay marriage legislation were highlighted because in my opinion….the government are deliberately focusing our attention on the consequences for Church buildings only…in order to deflect our attention from the wide-ranging negative and downright evil effects for ordinary Catholics in everyday life. (And traditional Protestants too).

    Because apparently…..we don’t matter. (I can just imagine them sniggering away.) Time for secularist toe-sucking ‘Catholics’ like IDS and John Gummer to wake up. Or maybe they are already awake…and have chosen sides.

    And if Catholics are barred from certain jobs….that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. We will have to create our own institutions and opportunities….though we will want a cash back from our taxes. No taxation without representation etc.

  • On Tuesday last, in response to comments in an article published by The (Glasgow) Herald concerning Archbishop Conti’s letter in last week’s Tablet, I submitted by email a Letter to the Editor of The Herald. As per usual they failed to publish it. (Non-Scottish Catholic friends of your Blog will be unaware that I am blackballed by the Letters to the Editor desk, although they deny it.) May I beg your indulgence to reproduce it here?

    “Dear Sir
    If Tom French, policy coordinator of the “Equality” Network (Archbishop in warning over same-sex marriage, Jan 8), finds Archbishop Conti’s remarks “offensive” then, firstly, he is easily offended and, secondly, he should expect to be more offended more often. For, contrary to what he and his fellow homosexualist proselytes are fond of maintaining, most people in Scotland agree with Mgr Conti rather than with he and them.

    And before he starts to attempt to pray the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in his aid, he should first of all read it and attempt to discern what it in fact portrays rather than what he wishes it did. The Executive Summary of the Survey in its Conclusions merely states: “29. Finally, the increase in support for same sex marriage since 2006 suggests that a majority of people in Scotland would support same sex relationships being treated in law in the same manner as heterosexual relationships.” Note that important word “suggests”: it may or it may not be the case. And note it does not say a majority may support same-sex marriage, it uses a far looser term “treated in law in the same manner”. The reason for this caution is quite simple: of those sampled, 1500 or so, only 21%, 300 or so, were prepared to tick the box on the questionnaire which indicated that they were strongly in agreement with the statement: “Gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to.” 79% were not.

    The Catholic Church has not “campaigned against equal rights” for homosexuals/lesbians. What the Catholic Church has campaigned against is a tiny fraction of the population being allowed to dictate to the overwhelming majority of the population on such a fundamental matter as the very building block of society: the family. The Catholic Church has demanded that before any proposal is put before Parliament or Holyrood there should first be a full and frank debate in the country followed by a referendum in order that the people, the sovereign people, may make an informed choice in the matter and demonstrate the sovereign will of the sovereign people.

    Of course, a full and frank public discussion is precisely what the Tom French’s do not want. Anyone who disagrees with them is “homophobic” and must be silenced, or shouted down, or locked up. They want the public to wallow in ignorance, believing all the lies fed to them: such as 15 to 20% of the population are “LGBT” (approximatey 1%); 50,000 homosexuals were done to death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz (none in the gas chambers, probably a couple of hundred died in ordinary concentration camps, mostly of disease, neglect and cruelty, and the stories of their pink crosses being used as target practice are just that, stories).

    Yours etc, Hughie McLoughlin”

    The Telegraph alone seems prepared to allow free and open debate of this issue and deserves our support: something I could never have contemplated ever saying way back in the early 1970s when I was a member of the Socialist Society at the University of Glasgow and Convener of Debates in its Men’s Union.

  • Schmorty

    I can’t think of a better application for persecution than the Catholic Church.

  • Dr. Harvey

    How ironic, and arrogant, that these Catholic priests worry about being “persecuted” over gay marriage, when the Catholic church’s centuries long record of persecuting gay people is the real atrocity.

  • David

    I hardly think celibate priests are the best people to teach about marriage anyway.

    The cobbler should stick to his last.

    • ms Catholic state

      Jesus Christ is the One with the authority to teach what marriage is. And His teaching on marriage is to be found in Matthew 19. It is Christ’s teaching which the priests are bound to uphold.

  • Trisagion

    I usually loathe Diaconal “me-toos” but I wonder why no one sought to obtain signatures from the seven hundred or so permanent deacons in England and Wales. I’d have signed it and I don’t know a deacon in my diocese who wouldn’t.

  • Michael Petek

    If Tom French, policy coordinator of the “Equality” Network (Archbishop in warning over same-sex marriage, Jan 8), finds Archbishop Conti’s remarks “offensive” then would Mr French mind awfully if I were to call him an oversensitive Brokeback Mountaineer?

  • comte de Frebonius

    Well done Brothers!! My prayers are with you!

  • Karla

    Thank you and God bless to these priests

  • OJM

    Why do Catholics seem to be so massively obsessed with what other people do with their willies and bottoms?

  • zevonia

    Why do catholics and other christians feel that laws should be based on their religious beliefs? Why should any religion’s beliefs have anything to do with the law? Murder is illegal not because of the ten commandments but because it is bad for society. The funniest aspect of this is that these same christians would be screaming their heads off if laws were based on the beliefs of muslims, hindus or any other religion but think nothing of forcing their beliefs on others.

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