Peter Tatchell has written a piece for MSN that is typically ignorant of many anti-Catholic liberals who think they can comment knowledgeably on the affairs of the Church. Tatchell, like other political activists, makes the basic mistake of applying a political model to the changes soon to take place in the Holy See with the resignation of Pope Benedict, and the appointment of his successor. Tatchell’s article is titled, ‘Change of Pope must bring change of policies’. Tatchell and others in the secularist media need to understand this simple truth – changing popes isn’t like changing presidents, there will be no change in doctrine. Peter Tatchell writes:
The resignation of Benedict XVI – unprecedented for a Pope in six centuries – offers the Catholic Church an extraordinary opportunity for positive change and reengagement with the wider world.
Having broken the tradition that a Pope is for life, millions of grassroots Catholics hope the new Pope will seize his moment to revise harsh Vatican policies that have caused so much harm – and which have left the papacy socially marooned and out of touch with the modern world.
For many people of all faiths and none, Pope Benedict was stuck in dogma. While he took a strong, commendable stand against war and global poverty, he failed to meet contemporary challenges on a range of burning social and moral issues, as I explored in my 2010 Channel Four documentary, The trouble with the Pope.
The new Pontiff could start this renewal process by remedying the shameful sexism that lies at the heart of Catholic doctrine: its opposition to women’s ordination. The idea that women are unfit to be priests is an insult to the whole female sex. It suggests that women have no moral capacity for spiritual leadership. This imposition of a male-only priesthood is pure patriarchy.
[Protect the Pope comment: The Church's doctrine on the priesthood being reserved to men is not based on the idea of women being unfit to be priests but out of the recognition that the |Church does not have the authority to ordain women. Our Lord Jesus Christ only chose men to be his apostles, and they only chose men to be their successors. Some argue that Jesus was conditioned by his times, but as the Son of God he was not limited by the culture of the time, seen by his authority to change Jewish laws. Pope John Paul II declared definitively, 'I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.' (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis)]
Since the invention of artificial contraception, successive Popes have condemned it as a sin. This needs to change. Church policy condemns many poor parents to have large families that they can’t adequately support. In some countries, priests spread the lie that contraception makes women sick, as I discovered when I went to the Philippines.
[Protect the Pope comment: Artificial contraception has not only been condemned as sinful by successive popes it was declared sinful by the Second Vatican Council, an ecumenical council, which gives the doctrine on the immorality of contraception the highest authority in the Church. 'Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law.(14)' (Gaudium et Spes, 51)]
A new Pope also needs to revise the Vatican’s opposition to IVF fertility treatment. This treatment gives childless couples the chance of parenthood. For the church to oppose such treatment is very odd, since it claims that having children is God’s will. So why deny the option of parenthood to infertile couples?
[Protect the Pope comment: IVF is immoral and inadmissible on two grounds, it separates the unitive and the procreative dimensions of conjugal sex, which mean that every child is conceived by the physical act of love, and in the UK alone 1 million embryonic human beings have been discarded and destroyed as a consequence of IVF. ' IVF dissociates the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."168 "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2377)]
It’s also overdue for the Catholic leadership to embrace potentially life-saving embryonic stem cell research, which could help find cures for terrible illnesses like motor neurone disease; thereby reducing suffering, improving people’s quality of life and saving lives. Surely this research is fulfilling Christian values and ideals?
[Protect the Pope comment: Why is it that people like Tatchell always ignore the successes of adult stem cell research, which is out stripping research on stem cells taken from the destruction of embryonic human beings? Why is Tatchell so blind to the immorality of stealing the cells from embryonic human beings? The CDF stated ', “the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.” (CDF, Dignitas Personae)]
Benedict XVI denounced the use of condoms, even to stop the spread of HIV; thereby putting millions of lives at risk. He even went as far as claiming that condom usage may “increase” the rate of HIV infection. These dishonest, immoral teachings need to be dumped. Condoms are life-savers and the new Pontiff should say so. Even he believes they are evil, surely they are the lesser of two evils? The successor to Benedict XVI should also rein in the senior Vatican officials who are promoting the lie that condoms actually spread HIV because, they claim, latex is porous to the virus (sic). This is an outrageous falsehood and has been condemned as untrue and irresponsible by scientists and medical professionals.
[Protect the Pope comment: Pope Benedict said 'HIV/Aids was, he argued, "a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem". Dr. Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, told National Review Online last week that despite AIDS activists and media outlets pounding the pope for downplaying the effectiveness of condoms, the science actually supports the Catholic leader’s claim. ”The pope is correct,” Green told NRO, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments.” There is,” Green added, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”]
A revision of the church’s hardline stance against homosexuality and gay human rights is much needed. The official Catholic doctrine is that same-sex relationships are an “objective disorder” and a “strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil.” Rejecting the concept of gay human rights, the last two Pope’s have asserted that there is no “right” to laws protecting homosexual people against discrimination, suggesting that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be “legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct.”
[Protect the Pope comment: The fact that sacred Scripture presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity cannot be ignored or air-brushed away. There is no getting away from the fact that sacred Scripture judges homosexual acts as intrinsically evil. The Catechism of Catholic Church states the following about homosexuality, ' Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.' ( 2357-2358).
Same-sex marriages as “evil” and vilified supporters of gay equality as “gravely immoral.” Benedict XVI denounced homosexual equality as a “deviant trend” and condemned same-sex love as being “without any social value.” He even threatened to excommunicate Catholic legislators who voted for gay rights laws.
[Protect the Pope comment: Pope Benedict XVI has mentioned the possibility of excommunication of politicians who support abortion, but sadly the Holy Father has not made similar statements about Catholic politicians who support same -sex marriage. Hopefully the next pope may clarify the application of canon law to politicians who support intrinsic evils in addition to abortion.]
The current Pope’s successor must move on from this unbridled homophobia, to embrace loving, stable, faithful same-sex relationships. According to the Christian gospel of love, the yardstick for judging the morality of any relationship should be the quality of that relationship, not the sexual orientation of the couple.
[Protect the Pope comment: Tatchell makes another typical misrepresentation of Christianity when he mentions, 'the Christian gospel of love'. The Gospels and epistles of the New Testament make it clear that it is a gospel of love and truth. And the truth is that the Christian gospel judges homosexual acts depraved and sinful. It would not be loving to pretend otherwise, because sinful behaviour endangers the eternal destiny of the soul]
Unless the new Pope makes significant changes in doctrine and articulates a new caring, compassionate Catholicism, his church will become increasingly out of step and irrelevant to modern life – as well as continuing to cause great misery to millions of people.The dramatic resignation of Benedict XVI could be an opportunity for Catholic renewal. Will the new Pope seize it?
Protect the Pope comment: Why would Peter Tatchellwrite a article for MSN based on the false premise that a future pope will change the doctrine of the Catholic Faith? One of the reasons could be the open dissent of prominent Catholics in England, which sadly includes our present cardinal who has openly contradicted the Church’s doctrine on the immorality of condoms. Also the failure of the majority of bishops to defend the Church’s clear teaching that homosexuals cannot be adoptive parents may have also influenced Tatchell’s misreading to the Church. Peter Tatchell has made the mistake of thinking that the behaviour and attitudes of prominent Catholics in England is representative of Catholics throughout the world. He is wrong to do this. The Church in this country will be reaping the poisoned fruit of open dissent for years to come.