Tina Beattie argues for gay marriage in The Guardian on day of the vote as Professor of Catholic Studies

Prof Tina Beattie has expressed her support of same-sex marriage in The Guardian on the day of the vote in the House of Commons, publicly defying the authority of the Bishops of England and Wales and the moral teaching of the Catholic Church. She has expressed her dissent as Professor of Catholic Studies, Roehampton University. Prof Beattie has been banned from delivering lectures in her own diocese and at a university in the USA as a consequence of her public support of gay marriage, but has been invited by the Archdiocese of Westminster to deliver a lecture on the 16th February. The Archdiocese of Westminster is led by Archbishop Nichols.

Prof. Beattie writes in response to the question, ‘should Catholics accept gay marriage?’

Tina Beattie: ‘Yes, society will benefit from same sex-marriage’


I have never been able to understand the argument that same-sex marriage threatens marriage as we know it. Marriage is far more threatened by a consumerist culture in which the demand for instant gratification is worth the sacrifice of any relationship or responsibility which involves commitment and struggle, and by an ethos of sexual libertarianism which so easily mutates into predatory and exploitative relationships involving young and vulnerable people, and which fosters unrealistically high expectations of sexual performance among adults who ought to know better.

In this context, society stands to benefit from any move towards a deeper understanding of the value of “lifelong fidelity and commitment” between two people, whether of the same sex or of different sexes, as a basic building block for community and family life.

[Protect the Pope comment: Prof. Beattie abandons the Catholic doctrine that marriage has the sole purpose of the union of man and woman for the procreation of children, with the two meanings of unitive conjugal sex and procreative openness to life. Homosexual marriage fails on all three dimensions. Prof. Beattie is not a Catholic in her understanding of marriage.]

And let’s be honest – the gay subculture is such that there may be relatively few men in particular who want to agree to “forsake all others” and opt for lifelong monogamy, which is implicit in the understanding of marriage informing the current debate.

When evangelical preacher Steve Chalke recently argued in favour of same-sex Christian marriage, one gay person complained about the “enforced monogamy” that this entailed. This is only one of many complex and messy issues that surrounds the proposed change, but life is complex and messy. Christianity recognises that, and at its best it seeks to nurture the most favourable social conditions for human flourishing and for care for the vulnerable within the muddle and mess of our human fallibility.

Religions are organic and slow-growing worlds of meaning. They are not progressive, democratic organisations,

[Protect the Pope comment: The question under discussion is about Catholics and the Catholic Church. Prof. Beattie abandons the Catholic doctrine that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has entrusted the Depositum Fidei to all baptised Catholics, that is safeguarded, preserved and communicated by the interplay of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium (Dei Verbum 10). Prof. Beattie is not a Catholic in her understanding of revelation.]

and a truly democratic and free society must respect their internal dynamics and values, even if from a secular, rights-based perspective these are at odds with prevailing cultural norms.  So it is right that religious communities and institutions are guaranteed protection from any attempt to use the law to impose same-sex marriage upon them.

Reading the government response to last year’s consultation published in 2012, every possible endeavour has been made to take account of religious and other objections, and to ensure legal protection for religious communities, only allowing them to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies if their official governing bodies authorise this. Fears have been expressed about whether faith schools will be forced to teach that same-sex marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage, but on a wide range of sexual and reproductive issues, Catholic schools already promote the church’s teachings which challenge existing legal and social norms in wider society, for example with regard to remarriage after divorce, contraception, abortion and extra-marital sex. It is not clear why same-sex marriage should be any different.

[Protect the Pope comment: Prof. Beattie is being disingenuous in her argument here. Same-sex marriage will come under Equalities legislation, while the aspects of Catholic sexual morality she mentions don't.]

In the government’s response to the consultation, marriage is defined in terms that are deeply rooted in traditional Christian values, such as the claim that “marriage in the 21st century is an inclusive, not exclusive, institution. It is available to all those over 16 who are prepared to make vows of lifelong fidelity and commitment.” At a time when the Christian understanding of marriage is being undermined, not by same-sex relationships but by heterosexual relationships which often fall far short of these ideals, I believe the government is trying to make a public affirmation of the ways in which the dignity and commitment of the Christian understanding of marriage offers a model for human love and fidelity that is still the best society can aspire to.

[Protect the Pope comment: Again Prof Beattie abandons the Catholic doctrine of marriage replacing it with a individualistic caricature. To remind Prof. Beattie of the Church's teaching on marriage here's a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 'By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory." Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: "It is not good that man should be alone," and "from the beginning [he] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.’ (CCC 1652)]

I have now spent many months reading and reflecting on the arguments and discussing this with gay and straight friends, with those opposed and with those in favour. I have come to believe that same-sex marriage would be good for society and for the individuals involved.

And I’d like us to get that out of the way and hold this profoundly inegalitarian government to account for its much greater abuses and violations with regard to the destruction of the welfare state and the fabric of care and social responsibility upon which every family – gay or straight – depends for its wellbeing.

• Tina Beattie is professor of Catholic Studies at Roehampton University

[Protect the Pope comment: If Prof. Beattie was banned from lecturing in her own diocese, the Diocese of Clifton, because she signed a letter in The Times arguing for Catholics to support same-sex marriage, how is it possible for the Archdiocese of Westminster to allow her to lecture on the 16th February now that she has publicly supported gay marriage in The Guardian on the day of this important vote?]


23 comments to Tina Beattie argues for gay marriage in The Guardian on day of the vote as Professor of Catholic Studies

  • Nicolas Bellord

    how is it possible for the Archdiocese of Westminster to allow her to lecture on the 16th February now that she has publicly supported gay marriage in The Guardian on the day of this important vote? A very good question. One would think that an authoritative explanation would be forthcoming from the Archdiocese to explain what appears to be a scandal. Will we get such?

  • Haslam

    “how is it possible for the Archdiocese of Westminster to allow her to lecture on the 16th February”

    well I don’t think it is. Let’s be charitable enough to give the Archbishop a few days to reach his decsision before attacking him, but this is a rather clear cut issue for him I would have thought. I would be very surprised if the lecture proceeded

  • Confusedof Chi

    Deacon Nick
    Who would have appointed her Professor of Catholic Studies?

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      That would be Roehampton university. Digby Stuart college was established in 1874 as a teacher training college for Roman Catholic women. The college owes its existence to the Society of the Sacred Heart, whose members continue to support the college and the university. Ultimately, it appears that the Society of the Sacred Heart is responsible. They need to issue a public statement about their attitude towards Prof. Beattie’s public dissent from the Catholic Church. Deacon Nick

  • aindelal

    American Bishops supporting the Pill. English Catholic professors supporting Gay marriage. Time for some firm leadership from Rome in my humble opinion.

  • But same sex marriage is not just about Catholic Teaching. Marriage between a man and a woman in all cultures came about because it became obvious that the best people to raise children were the natural parents in a life-long relationship. If this important fact was not observed by all cultures and societies then there would never have been marriage. This is the danger. Take children out of the equation and we must ask the question if marriage is only about `love` then why must it be confined to two people. As Maria Miller would tell us Marriage evolves so polygamy must h ave its day if she is truthful. The most important point however is that the Government, if it accepts marriage is a basic human right for homosexuals must see it as an absolute right and there so called ruling out religious bodies is legalising discrimination. Such a division will not be allowed to stand for very long. The Churches will be very soon under attack.

  • Quid pro Quo Nick…

    Remember Catholic Voices has repeatedly contravened Catholic teaching & CDF directives by saying the Church does not oppose Civil Partnerships.

    • Augustine

      By “Catholic Voices”, do you mean that this is the official line of the organisation or do you mean it is the opinion of one of the members of Catholic Voices?

      • Yes it’s the official line – Austen Ivereigh publicly stated CDF opposition did not apply to British CPs and William Oddie was being..ahem..ahem..for saying so. This position is repeated on the website in support of Archbishop Nichols’s amnesiac position “We did not oppose CPs” [one which the Vatican forced him to retract and clarify - which led to Conference's republication of Bishop Hines's deposition to parliament] There has been no retraction. Rather multiple reiteration online and in media interviews [despite being given the opportunity to clarify - CVs haven't] Interviews are readily promoted on their website and youtube…and yes even as recently as last month there was repetition of this position by a CV – with calls for its universalisation.

      • Nicolas Bellord

        I had a long argument with Greg Daly of Catholic Voices about the Civil Partnership Act which is still available at:


        The discussion finished with a personal attack on me. He refused to accept my defence. I asked him either to delete the personal attack or to print my defence. He refused again.

        I am interested to learn that they still maintain their myth that Civil Partnerships are not an indorsement of buggery. Their problem is that they see their role as defending the Archbishop rather than the teachings of the Church.

  • Michael Petek

    Prof. Beattie is not a Catholic in her understanding of marriage. Neither is she a rational human being in her understanding of marriage. Her position represents both an affront to reason and a sin against the Holy Spirit.

  • Professor Beattie thinks that families – all of them – depend on the state. And there was me thinking that the state depended on families. Has the state, in her theology, been elevated to the status of not being dependent on anything?

  • Re her status: a friend of mine teaches Islamic Studies at a German university. She’s an atheist, and even if she one day becomes a professor she would not dream of thinking it gave her some kind of entitlement to lecture Muslims on doctrinal matters. It seems to me it would be better for the department at Roehampton to have the same purely secular status, so that its Professor could be an Anglican, a Jew or an atheist, than for Prof. Beattie to go on enjoying the “half in, half out” position from which she is deriving so much mileage.

  • Rifleman 819

    Deacon ,

    This was very carefully calculated , wasn’t it?

    She knows exactly what she is doing.

    • Haslam

      I agree with you that she knows what she is doing. She realises that she will soon be banned from speaking on church premises, but it seems that she has decided to go out with a bang and has chosen her timing very well to do so.

      • Deacon Nick Donnelly

        I hope your assessments are correct, but I fear that she counts on the continued acquiescence of the bishops, particularly the Archbishop of Westminster. The argument coming out Westminster in defence of Tina Beattie is that she has the right to express her opinions, just so long as its made clear that her opinions aren’t the teachings of the Church. The problem is that none of the bishops are making this point. They just give her a platform that gives her credibility, suggesting that her heretical opinions are welcome in a ‘broad church’ version of the Catholic faith. Yer right, that’s really worked out well for the Church of England. Deacon Nick

  • Bob Hayes

    The current phase of the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate is over. The Church does not need to take any special measures: those who reject teaching have done so by their own actions. If they have placed themselves outside the Church that is their voluntary act. If Tina Beattie is outside the Church, she should tell us: if she is unsure of her status, the Church should step in and tell the faithful….

  • Damask Rose

    “They just give her a platform that gives her credibility, suggesting that her heretical opinions are welcome in a ‘broad church’ version of the Catholic faith.”

    Yes. That’s right. If she were to loose her Roehampton position (amongst others), she would no longer have a voice. Her dissent allows her to remain in her academic clique.

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