Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP hopes Pope will allow communion for divorced and re-married. Soon to be a bishop?

Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the former General Secretary of the Dominicans, has expressed the hope that Pope Francis will allow divorced and re-married Catholics to receive Holy Communion. During the reign of Pope Benedict XVI Fr Timothy Radcliffe was stopped from speaking at the General Assembly of the Catholic development agencies. Fr Radcliffe is well known for his liberal positions on morality, including his public opposition to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

According to The Tablet,  Fr. Timothy Radcliffe was set to deliver the keynote opening address Monday and had already prepared his talk. Instead of Fr Radcliffe, Cardianl Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, gave the key note speech in which he emphasized the importance of Catholic development agencies being true to their Catholic identity and morality in their charitable work.

Fr Radcliffe wrote the following in America, the Catholic weekly:

‘I would conclude with two profound hopes. That a way will be found to welcome divorced and remarried people back to communion. And, most important, that women will be given real authority and voice in the church. The pope expresses his desire that this may happen, but what concrete form can it take? He believes that the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood is not possible, but decision-making in the church has become ever more closely linked to ordination in recent years. Can that bond be loosened? Let us hope that women may be ordained to the diaconate and so have a place in preaching at the Eucharist. What other ways can authority be shared?’

Fr Radcliffe also gave the following contribution to the Church of England ‘s review of homosexuality and gay marriage:

‘ The Anglican Commission on Sexual Ethics

I feel very honoured to have this chance to share some  thoughts on sexual ethics from a Catholic perspective. I must confess that I also feel rather unqualified. I can  make no claim to being a moral theologian.  It is frequently asserted that Christians are obsessed with sex, and with what we are or are not forbidden to do. But for most of the last two thousand years, Christianity has neither been especially fixated on sex, nor has it thought about it in terms of rules. Jesus says little about sexual ethics, except on divorce. Nor was it a central concern in the Middle Ages. Think of the two great classics of
Medieval Christendom, the Summa Theologica of Aquinas and Dante’s Divina Commedia. Thomas had a positive view of our passions, including sexual desire.

They are basically sound and good. They can go a bit astray and need education and the purification of grace. But sexual passion is good, and belongs to our journey towards God, the one whom we most deeply desire. Aquinas hardly ever refers to the commandments. Sexual morality is about becoming virtuous, not about obeying rules.

In Dante’s Inferno the top circles of Hell, where the punishments are lightest, are reserved for people who got carried away by their passions. They desired the good, but desired it wrongly. The really grave sins, for which people get a serious roasting, are telling lies, being violent and, worst of all, the betrayal of friends. And it is only with the Reformation that we see the Ten Commandments placed at the centre of the moral life.

The medieval stress on holiness as sharing the life of God is replaced with a new stress on obedience to rules. We see the rise of what Charles Taylor calls ‘the culture of control.1’ There is the emergence of the centralised state, absolute monarchs, standing armies, a police force, and the exponential growth of law. Human behaviour must be regulated and controlled. Sex must be disciplined! I suspect that it is only with the Enlightenment that one
sees the rise of our modern obsession with the regulation of sex. For example, it was at the beginning of the 18th century, according to Thomas Laquer that people began to worry in a big way about masturbation. There is a new hysteria about solitary sex.2 What are people up to behind closed doors? So my suspicion is that both this obsession with sex and a stress on rules both relatively late and alien to traditional Christianity.

The most nerve wracking lecture that I have ever given was in Mauritius. I had to talk to 600 noisy teenagers about sex, and in French. I tried to move them beyond just thinking about what was allowed towards some understanding of the deep meaning of sexual relationships. It was hopeless. Every single question was about what was permitted or forbidden.

So what then might be a Christian vision of sexual morality? We could go back to Thomas Aquinas and look at how he understands good sexual behaviour in terms of the virtues of temperance and justice. This would be an excellent thing to do, and is becoming increasingly popular, especially in America. We could look at Aquinas’ wonderful understanding of natural law.

But I want to try another approach, because I am not an expert on St Thomas’ virtue ethics. I want to look at the Last Supper. Jesus says to the disciples: ‘This is my body, given for you.’ He gives us his body. This surely helps us to understand what it means for us to give our bodies to another person. Let us try to imagine a sexual ethics which is Eucharistic.


So this is a one way to understand Christian sexual ethics: sexual intercourse is most fundamentally mutual generosity. This is inseparable from every aspect of our  lives, in which we accept the gift of another person, delight in their talents, cherish their hopes, their weakness, even when they are old and ill, and sex has probably ceased. Herbert McCabe, my next door neighbour of many years, wrote: ‘Ethics is just the study of human behaviour in so
far as it is a piece of communication, in so far as it says something or fails to say something.4’ The first question is not: ‘I am allowed to do this?’ But ‘What does it mean?’
When you have sexual intercourse with someone, then you say with your body, ‘I give myself to you and I receive you are as a gift.’ But if we get up the early next morning and leave a note by the bed saying ‘Thanks for the pleasurable sex, but I never wish to see you again’ then we have, in a sense, lied with our bodies. It is as if we were to say, ‘I love you eternally’ and then walk away. So sexual ethics has to be embedded in how we communicate with each other.


But not every marriage is fertile in this way. We must avoid having a mechanistic or simplistic understanding of fertility. Jesus speaks a fertile word: This is my body, given for you. He is God’s fertile word. And surely it is in the kind and healing words that we offer each other that
we all share in fertility of that most intimate moment. When Jesus met Peter on the shore after Easter, he offers him a word that renews their relationship. Three times he asks him; ‘Do you love me more than these others?’ He allows him to undo his threefold denial. Sexual fertility cannot be separated from the exchange of words that heal, that recreate and set free.

How does all of this bear on the question of gay sexuality? We cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means, and how far it is Eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual and non-violent. So in many ways, I would think that it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift.

We can also see how it can be expressive of mutual fidelity, a covenantal relationship in which two people bind themselves to each other for ever. But the proposed legislation for ‘gay marriage’ imply that it is not understood to be inherently unitive, a becoming one flesh. [...]

And what about fertility? I have suggested that one should not stick to a crude, mechanistic understanding of fertility. Biological fertility is inseparable from the fertility of our mutual tenderness and compassion. And so that might seem to remove one objection to gay marriage. I am not entirely convinced, since it seems to me that our tradition is incarnational, the word becoming bodily flesh. And some heterosexual relationships may be accidentally infertile in this sense, but homosexual ones are intrinsically so.

Sexual ethics is about what our acts say. And I have the impression that we are not very sure of what gay sexual acts signify. Maybe we need to ask gay Christians who have been living in committed relationships for years. I suspect that sex will turn out to be rather unimportant.

Protect the Pope comment: Often in the past Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP has been spoken of in liberal circles as a possible future bishop. In the light of the  seismic changes at the Congregation for Bishops, this possibility, that was unlikely under Pope Benedict, seems more than likely. Fr Radcliffe has friends in high places.

101 comments to Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP hopes Pope will allow communion for divorced and re-married. Soon to be a bishop?

  • rjt1

    If becoming a deacon involves sharing in the Sacrament of Orders – one sacrament in which men participate to different degrees, whether as deacons, priests or bishops – I don’t see how one could ordain women to the diaconate any more than one could ordain them to the priesthood or the episcopate.

    • And there you have put your finger on the illogicality of the Anglican position that would deny their pseudo-episcopate to women while they admit them to their lower “orders”. It is either all or nothing – any halfway house is simply misogyny.

    • Deacon Paul

      Pope Benedict changed both Canon Law and the CCC to modify the relationship of the role of the Deacon to that of the Priest and Bishop. This could well be seen as a precursor to allowing Women to participate in the Diaconal ministry. In the early Church women deacons were commonplace so it would not be possible to appeal to tradition to oppose such a development.
      The problem with the Church of England was that women deacons were always seen as a precursor to womens’ ordination to the priesthood. I think the biggest difficulty with re-introducing the role to the Catholic church at this time would be preventing it being seen as a step on the way to Women Priests and Bishops.
      Finally re Fr. Radcliffe’s comment re women preaching there is no record that women deacons in the early church preached, their role was minstry to the sick and the physical preparations for full immersion baptism.

      • rjt1

        The question I would raise is whether women serving in that role were ordained in the sense we now understand it.

        • No, the deaconesses in the early Church were not in Holy Orders and that distinction was clearly made. There have never been women in Holy Orders in either Latin or Greek tradition and if the attempt were made the repercussions would be disastrous.

          • rjt1

            Yes, it is one thing to assert that were women serving in a particular way, and another thing to demonstrate that they were ordained. I believe the Greek for service (diakonia) might lead to some misunderstanding.

            I also hasten to add that when I said ‘as we now understand it’, I did not mean that the Church’s understanding has changed essentially but that it has developed to a state of greater fullness and clarity – this is what I understand by tradition – a living and growing reality, not merely historicism.

  • Joseph Matthew

    Either Fr Radcliffe knows nothing about Aquinas or he has a very low opinion of other peoples’ grasp of sacred doctrine.

    • Deacon Paul

      Whatever one might say of Fr. Radcliffe’s positions it is extremely foolish to suggest he is not knowledgeable about Aquinas, your second point is a non-sequitur from the first.

      • Wake Up England

        Deacon Paul:

        What an unattractive comment; most especially from a Deacon!

        May I remind you that there are rather severe penalties in the next world – about which Jesus uncompromisingly warns us – for those who say “You Fool”.

        But perhaps you’ve joined the American nuns and “moved beyond Jesus”?

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Who suggested that it was a sequitur?

  • Michael Petek

    Why is the divine law of sexual morality the way it is?

    Because the marital act is an act of divine worship in that it summons God’s creative power for the transmission of human life. The principle in play here is the same as that which applies in public worship: what is not prescribed is forbidden.


    God help us.

    How should faithful catholics behave if a fool like Radcliffe were made their bishop?

    Come to think of it, this is not a hypothetical question.

  • JAC

    I feel very uneasy with Fr Radcliffe’s view with ‘homosexuality’.

  • Chrysostom

    Fr Timothy Radcliffe wants, he is quoted as saying, “And, most important, that women will be given real authority and voice in the church.” Might one ask why Fr Radcliffe did not ask a woman to speak instead of him? Are we to expect that, except for sermons, Fr Radcliffe will never make any more speeches but will insist on a woman speaking instead? Will Fr Radcliffe write no more articles but insist on a women being given the opportunity to write?
    Fr Radcliffe is wrong about Dante when he says, “In Dante’s Inferno the top circles of Hell, where the punishments are lightest, are reserved for people who got carried away by their passions” Adulterers and the lustful are in the second circle. Homosexuals -or “gays” as Fr Radcliffe calls them – are in the third round of the seventh circle on the burning plain.

    Even in modern Europe, America and almost the whole world – despite the claim for “gay” equality – male homosexuals are not allowed to be blood donors.

    Here is a challenge for Fr Radcliffe: I challenge him to quote, from before, say, 1960, any Dominican, any Pope, any Bishop or any priest not a heretic, who speaks or writes in favour of homosexual sexual relations or that they are not sinful.

    • peter

      Even in modern Europe, America and almost the whole world – despite the claim for “gay” equality – male homosexuals are not allowed to be blood donors.”

      In the UK I don’t think that is true.

      • Lynda

        Men who engage in sodomy are prohibited from donating blood.

      • Wake Up England

        Peter dear,

        As a homosexual myself I can assure you this certainly was the case.

        I fully admit I haven’t tried to give blood for about 12 years, so maybe it’s changed. I was certainly declined as a blood donor in London because I’m gay.

        Personally, I think it is extremely sensible of the powers that be to refuse blood from homosexual people; I completely see their logic and applaud it.

        Lynda, honey:

        whether one engages in sodomy or not is not a question the blood donor people asked me. They merely want to know if one’s homosexual or not. One’s bedroom proclivities (or lack thereof) were not investigated.

        I repeat: not all homosexuals indulge in sodomy. Some of us struggle hard to live Good Catholic Lives.

        • Ruben

          God Bless you and keep you under his wings.

        • Your blood is not refused because you are “gay”, it is refused because there is a very high risk, relatively speaking, that it may transmit AIDs, Hepatitis C etc. Despite all that the Tatchellistas claim, homosexual acts are still the single biggest factor in the spread of these diseases.

          • Deacon Paul

            Just on a point of accuracy your comment is only true for the developed world. In Sub-Saharan Africa heterosexual sex is the biggest factor in the spread of AIDS.

          • Wake Up England

            Hugh McLoughlin:

            All you say is absolutely true. It’s common sense to refuse blood from homosexuals and it would he highly irresponsible to do otherwise.

        • Lynda

          Wake Up England, I give blood regularly in Ireland (have done for over twenty years) and if one answers yes to any of the questions regarding sexual acts between two men, one may not donate. Also, a woman who has had intercourse in the previous 12 months with a man who has engaged in any of those sexual acts, may not donate.

  • SteveD

    The fact that this man is still in holy orders is worrying enough. If raised to the Episcopate, he wouldn’t be the only bishop who has expressed such views but he might be the first to be elevated AFTER expressing such views and would be further confirmation that the Church is in real trouble.

  • peter

    In my opinion Timothy Radcliffe would be an enormous asset to the Bishops conference. He is a wonderful man of deep integrity – no one becomes Master of the Dominican Order (not the general secretary as suggested above) without a deep spirituality and a good theological background. To get an understanding of him I suggest a reading of his letters to the Dominican Order whilst he was Master and his sermons.
    Timothy Radcliffe refers to Herbert McCabe in the section above; if you haven’t, try reading Herbert McCabe. One of the great English theologians of our time and sadly missed.

    • BJC


      It’s you again isn’t it? Give me a break. Fr. Timothy Radcliffe might be a good bloke, but integrity isn’t one of his strong suits. I’ve think we’ve had this conversation before. This is what he said in the Tablet, that organ of biased liberal “Catholic” beliefs, on 28 February 2006:

      “Let us glance at some touchy issues: sexual ethics, homosexuality and the ordination of women. Christian morality is not mostly about sex, despite the impression given by the media. It is fundamentally about becoming free and happy in God. But if the Church’s teaching about sex becomes radically out of touch with what Catholics live, then there is a problem. Many Catholics are divorced and remarried, or living with partners or practising contraception or are gay. To put it simply: should the Church accommodate her teaching to the experience of our contemporaries or should we stick by our traditional sexual ethics and risk becoming a fortress Church, a small minority out of step with people’s lives? Neither option seems right. In my book, I confess that I do not know the answer.” In the same article he asks the question about homosexual people:- “Are they to be told that they must for ever be celibate?” He answers it by saying “I must confess that I do not know”. On the ordination of women, he asks the question “Is it then true that women cannot be ordained?” and again answers by saying “I confess for a third time that I do not know”.

      As Pat commented at the time:-

      “For someone who is a prolific speaker and writer on Catholic issues, he doesn’t seem to “know” an awful lot.”

      Get him on here if you know him and ask him to “dialogue” with me about his strange beliefs. What I’d like to know is why does he think the pennies of the Catholic poor should be used to pay his rent, buy his grub, and pay for him to take trips to Rome whilst he seems to quite blatantly reject Catholic teaching in key areas. It seems to me a betrayal of trust that as a priest he feeds the sheep in his flock stones when they ask for bread and snakes when they ask for fish (Matt 7:9-11). That he does all of this using the kudos he has a former Master of the Dominicans in this country is even more reprehensible and a further betrayal of the gospel and Our Lord’s teaching. I think even the atheists who read his blog would be shocked by his hypocrisy.

      On a cheerier note Happy Christmas to you and welcome back. Glad to see you’ve recovered from your illness.

      St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, protect us from bad Bishops

      St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests, protect us from bad priests

      • peter

        Hello BJC

        yes, I think we have had this conversation before! And I think we will continue to disagree! And please believe me being the Master of the Dominicans did not give Timothy Radcliffe any Kudos – he served his term and is now like any other Dominican friar, preaches the gospel. One doesn’t become the Master of the Dominicans easily – the Dominican order trusted him to lead them for 9 years. He is not afraid to ask difficult questions of us all, but recognises that he does not know the answers. I understand that you believe Church teaching via the CCC and elsewhere gives us all that we need, but for others it is more difficult and their faith is a constant battle – and that is the audience Timothy Radcliffe is in dialogue with.

        May the blessings of Christ be with you and all you love this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

        i am not fully recovered as yet but thankyou for your kind thoughts.

        • BJC


          “One doesn’t become the Master of the Dominicans easily”

          Where have you been the past 40 years? It’s been the story of the Church since the 1970s. Never has the Church had so many faithless priests and religious in it at any one time. That a person with such little firmness of faith in the teaching on women priests or homosexual acts can become leader of the Domincans in this country, for heaven’s sake, says it all. The quality of our religious has been poor and he stood out from a lot of weak candidates that’s the conclusion. It’s inconceivable that in any other century, and in fact right up to the 1950s, he would get a job like that.

          Incidentally Peter, I don’t bear you any ill will and these exchanges have never been personal. Outside of these exchanges you seem like a nice enough bloke and I would probably say we would get on despite our differences. Merry Christmas to you as well and I pray that your faith and health returns.

          St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, pray for our bad Bishops so that their faith may return.

          St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests, pray for our bad priests so that their faith may return.

          • peter

            I ma not up to reading at much at the moment, however in the future I hope we can chat again about Herbert McCabe, I find him intellectually very stimulating.

            And yes I think we would get on if we ever met up – my health isn’t great but my faith is as strong as ever.

            Just for clarity, Timothy Radcliffe was the provincial of the English friars then Master of the Dominicans Order throughout the world. He was elected Master by fellow Dominicans at the General Chapter of 1992 – it wan’t that he stood out from a ‘lot of week candidates’, he was democratically elected to be Master by the entire Dominican Order.

        • Nicolas Bellord

          Peter: You write ” that is the audience Timothy Radcliffe is in dialogue with. ” I would suggest it is an audience that he confuses and sows with doubts about the Catholic religion.

          As for being democratically elected since when has that been a guarantee of suitability? It just shows something about the Dominicans that he was elected.

          • Peter

            Are you really sayong that the Dominicans are fools and didn’t know what they were doing when they elected him. If you don’t mind me saying it is a rather bold statement about a religious order.

          • Nicolas Bellord

            Peter: I have never suggested that the Dominicans or anyone else are fools; so please do not try to put words in my mouth. In a democratic system one can never know exactly what one is going to get when one votes for somebody; indeed in my experience one seldom gets what one expects. When I voted Conservative in the last election I never expected either gay “marriage” or an idiotic proposal to bomb people in Syria. If however you think the Dominicans knew exactly what they were going to get with Father Timothy presumably it shows that, at that time, the majority were of the same mind as he, which rather confirms my impression of them gathered over the last 60 years or so. Although there are some excellent ones who have appeared more recently such as Father Aidan Nichols.

    • BJC


      Sorry to have to keep correcting you on your choice of reading material and “great” theologians, but Fr. Herbert McCabe was another dissenter from Humanae Vitae and also a supporter of women priests. So not so “great” after all. As you say Fr. Timothy Radcliffe refers to him in the passages Nick uses, it adds fuel to the fire that he shares the same beliefs. Looks like Fr. McCabe was another one of those Catholic priests of the era who decided his life’s mission was to undermine the gospel and Our Lord’s teaching, live as an eternal student, and get the pennies of the Catholic poor to pay for it. Oh what larks!

      Before you ask, no I haven’t read him and I’ve no intention of. My reading list is a heretic free zone.

      • peter

        Sorry but I don’t use Wikipedia as a ‘real’ source of information. Herbert McCabe was a brilliant brilliant man – and very humble. Sadly not much of his writing is easily available, but his use of Aquinas in his work is truly inspiring. Yes, he was against HV, but so are many other church goers. He was a lecturer and yes he would admit to be an eternal student – a continual learner.

        • BJC


          Neither do I, but on this occasion it seems to have got it right and I don’t see you disputing it.

          Take a look at this quote below Peter from the Catholic Herald of 1985. The implication is that your “great” Fr. McCabe rejected Catholic teaching on the soul, the persons of the Trinity and conscience. Are these teachings you reject too? I know his catechism got an imprimatur, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t reject these teachings. In true modernist style it might just mean he “forgot” to mention it – a bit like Fr George Tyrell.

          “The new catechism makes only one reference to the priest as “he”. Fr McCabe explained that this was a mistake, to be corrected in any subsequent editions. “It is not part of the Church’s teaching that priests have to be male,” he said.

          Nor is there any reference to the soul, the persons of the Trinity, or to conscience. These words, said Fr McCabe, are no longer an adequate expression of the truths they are intended to convey.”

          • peter


            I’ve just read the Wikipedia article and it is rather brief and says nothing of any substance. I read the booklet when published by Catholic Truth Society (not usually known to publish heretical works) and i found no heresy in it whatsoever. It has an imprimatur by Couve de Murville a well known Traditionalist. As for his views on ordination his booklet was written before the CDF’s ‘response to a doubt’ so you cannot blame him for stating his position. I don’t believe Herbert was ever called to Rome to defend his views. I think before one criticises a theologian, it is better to read him/her first.

      • Pat

        Spot on BJC, spot on. There was also that heretical ‘catechism’ that Fr McCabe produced sometime in the 80′s/90′s that was widely distributed in the UK.

        • BJC


          Really? Didn’t know about that, what else did he reject? Any idea? I’ve dug this out from an old Catholic Herald article of 1985:

          “The new catechism makes only one reference to the priest as “he”. Fr McCabe explained that this was a mistake, to be corrected in any subsequent editions. “It is not part of the Church’s teaching that priests have to be male,” he said.

          Nor is there any reference to the soul, the persons of the Trinity, or to conscience. These words, said Fr McCabe, are no longer an adequate expression of the truths they are intended to convey.”

        • peter


          What are the heresies in his catechism?

          • BJC


            It’s what he hasn’t said that’s the problem. Can you show us some definitive quotes demonstrating that Fr. McCabe had Catholic beliefs on the soul, the Trinity and conscience? It’s the typical modernist trick to keep their true beliefs well hidden whilst winning peoples confidence and undermining Catholic teaching from the inside. Ask Fr. George Tyrell and characters like De Loisy, they apparently were masters of the dark art.

          • Pat

            I no longer have a copy, but I am confident in saying that some of it was heretical. I was a new (and very naïve!) convert at the time and purchased a copy thinking I could gain from it and pass copies to others. I gave this copy to my spiritual director at the time, a very holy and learned Jesuit who has since passed to his eternal reward, and he scrutinised it and said not to have anything to do with it. He did point out specific details, but they escape me. It was sometime in the 1980′s so please understand that. None of us have photographic memories. The CTS should never have published it (I notice they no longer do so – their website comes up saying ‘no product found’ when I type in the details of the book). I will look for detailed critiques and will post any if I find them.

        • peter


          it seems to me calling someone a heretic is a big deal. If Herbert McCabe was a heretic he would have been at least called to Rome or excommunicated – but he wasn’t. It is up to the church authorities to declare a theologian a heretic. Even Hans Kung, who I’m sure you disagree with, has never been labelled a heretic by Rome, Kung had his licence to teach removed but is still a priest in good standing within the church.

          • BJC


            (1) Your faith is weak – it’s obvious.

            (2) “Timothy Radcliffe was the provincial of the English friars then Master of the Dominicans Order throughout the world”

            Good grief what a mess. His weakness of faith is embarrassing in a priest and his books from what I’ve seen are vacuous and muddle-headed, as are his articles in the Tablet.

            (3) Seeing as you know so much about Fr.Herbert McCabe can you please show us definitively that he believed in Catholic teaching on the soul, the Trinity and conscience because judging by his own words it’s debatable. It’s no excuse to say he wasn’t censured by the Vatican. Modernists have always been too cute for that and know exactly how far to push the envelope – just look at Fr. Timothy Radcliffe’s words in the Tablet on 28 February 2006. Very carefully crafted.

          • BJC


            Forgot to add. You still haven’t told me whether you agree with Catholic teaching on the soul, the Trinity and conscience as set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – no ifs, no buts.

          • BJC


            Post script to my comment @ 11.33 p.m.

            I’ve now tracked down enough of what Fr. Herbert McCabe wrote to see that he is orthodox on the Trinity and the soul from what I can see, which is a relief. As for conscience I can’t find anything at the minute.

          • BJC


            “Even Hans Kung, who I’m sure you disagree with, has never been labelled a heretic by Rome, ….but is still a priest in good standing within the church.”

            That’s a pretty meaningless statement these days.

            As a point of interest can you tell me when was the last time he said mass?

          • Peter


            I’m just back from treatment but I’ll attempt a quick answer.
            1 Faith is a gift from God and I am always thankful for the grace I receive.
            2 I think we disagree about Timothy Radcliffe and that is fine. But the role you yourself have taken on as his jury has not been endorsed by Rome. Please remember he is a Dominican friar, a scholar and a priest in good standing. Have you really read any of his books?

            3 I do believe the Trinity, the soul and conscience in line with church teaching and the development of doctrine.

            4 Herbert McCabe was a brilliant theologian whose work on Aquinas is still beautiful. I am not able to read anything at the moment but in the future I hope we can discuss his work.

            5 the problem with labelling Kung a heretic is that you are taking a position that even Benedict did not take. I have no idea when he last said mass – but as a retired priest he is probably saying mass weekly

            Keep well

  • Wake Up England

    Say what you like about father Tim Radford, but he makes a good breakfast.

  • Shaun the Sheep

    It just gets worse, doesn’t it? Could any of us have foretold all of this back in March or whenever it was Benedict resigned? Ah well. Let’s not let ourselves be eternally lost in all this madness. Pray, hope, and don’t worry.

  • Mark Thorne

    Fr Radcliffe says, “Let us try to imagine a sexual ethics which is Eucharistic.”. However, surely no imagination is required here- all you need to do is purchase a book written by Blessed John Paul II entitled “The Theology of the Body” which spells out beautifully the theological dimension of properly ordered sexual relationships in sacramental marriages, and how we should respect our bodies. Having worked my way through this book, it bears little resemblance to the mostly heretical extracts from the article featured here. We’re now facing a situation where this wonderful Pope is going to be canonized next year, but paradoxically his teaching in this area, which may have enabled him to have been accorded the status of a Doctor of the Church in times to come, is in danger of being declared null and void. St Michael, Defender of the Faith, please pray for us. [Moderated comment]

  • Paul Commins

    Perhaps this Prophecy is appropriate::
    St. Anthony the Abbot (4th Century)

    Men will surrender to the spirit of the age. They will say that if they had lived in our day, faith would be simple and easy. But in their day, they will say, things are complex; the Church must be brought up to date and made meaningful to the day’s problems. When the Church and the world are one, then those days are at hand.

  • “Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the former General Secretary…” I was going to ask if the Dominicans had become a Trade Union but I then read Fr Timothy’s observations and realised they had!

  • John Fannon

    The idea of Timothy Radcliffe becoming a Bishop is a terrifying thought – coupled with the thought of the reaction of the editorial staff at the Tablet wetting themselves in glee.

    But this man is 69 yrs old. By the time he had settled in to a diocese, met all the parishes, he would be ready to retire. Therefore not practical – surely – unless the HF decides that “right on” Bishops can stay in post sine die.

  • Rifleman819

    Dear All,
    The good Father OP….if what attributed to him is fact…must labour under the delusion that he and he alone is gifted with all the nostrums for the Church. If have becomes a bishop….and does not himself obey the norms of the Office of an Ordinary….then presumably his subordinate clergy and religious would ipso facto be released in their turn from any oath of allegiance to him?
    And the same applies to Arundel and Brighton….or indeed any See.
    Look very carefully at the state of the Church of England and how traditionalists in that body have been ruthlessly hounded out.
    A possible warning for us all.

  • Rifleman819

    iPad typo!…If he becomes a bishop

  • Pat

    This CWR article about Fr Radcliffe says it all:-

    Also don’t forget his public statement in The Tablet of 28 Jan 2006:- “Let us glance at some touchy issues: sexual ethics, homosexuality and the ordination of women. Christian morality is not mostly about sex, despite the impression given by the media. It is fundamentally about becoming free and happy in God. But if the Church’s teaching about sex becomes radically out of touch with what Catholics live, then there is a problem. Many Catholics are divorced and remarried, or living with partners or practising contraception or are gay. To put it simply: should the Church accommodate her teaching to the experience of our contemporaries or should we stick by our traditional sexual ethics and risk becoming a fortress Church, a small minority out of step with people’s lives? Neither option seems right. In my book, I confess that I do not know the answer.”

    In the same article he asks the question about homosexual people:- “Are they to be told that they must for ever be celibate?” He answers it by saying “I must confess that I do not know”. On the ordination of women, he asks the question “Is it then true that women cannot be ordained?” and again answers by saying “I confess for a third time that I do not know”

    While Fr Radcliffe doesn’t seem to know an awful lot about Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching, he apparently seems to be clearer on ‘gay’ issues, according to a report on the Catholic World News website dated 6 April 2006, which quoted him as saying the following at a recent event:-

    “I’m afraid I’m an old-fashioned traditional Catholic, and I believe that’s the wrong place to start. We begin by standing by gay people, as they hear the voice of the Lord that summons them to a life of happiness. We accompany them as they wrestle with discovering what this means and how they should walk, and this means letting our imaginations be stretched open to … watching Brokeback Mountain, reading gay novels, having gay friends, making our beliefs of our hearts and our minds delighting in that being…”

    • But if the Church’s teaching about sex becomes radically out of touch with what Catholics live, then there is a problem.

      Why, in the view of those like Fr Radcliffe, is it always the Church and her teaching at fault, rather than the fault lying with those who live contrary to the teaching? I mean, if I had an issue with the Church’s teaching on the indissoluble nature of sacramental marriage, surely the problem would be with me, rather than with the teaching? Surely it would be I that needed to change, not the Church?

      I argue, I lie, I neglect my prayers, I swear, I get angry, I commit all sorts of mortal and venial sins. Rather than going to Confession and sorting my life out with the help of God’s grace, should I instead turn round and say “well, the Church’s teaching on these things is radically out of touch with how I live my life, so I think that she should accommodate her teaching to my experiences”? What a ridiculous notion! How arrogant and self-serving!

      Fr Radcliffe and his ideological compatriots would do well to remind themselves of what St Paul wrote to St Timothy:

      “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

    • Lynda

      One of the main reasons so many Catholics have rejected Catholic teaching and the natural moral law is that priests such as Fr Radcliffe refuse to teach and preach it, according to their grave moral and ecclesiastical duty. Does he not care about all the souls he’s leading into mortal sin and possible perdition. Such priests should be silenced for the sake of saving souls (including his own).

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Who would have guessed from this that sexual intercourse can lead to procreation? Fertility in this man’s view is apparently nothing to do with procreation.

    Peter: The Dominicans have been through a very bad patch in the last 60 years; they are only beginning to regain their true spirit with people like Aidan Nichols.

  • Patrick Fahey

    We need to pray harder that he Church will be sent Bishops who are Catholic and not politicians and careerists.

  • Joseph Matthew

    In many ways, Radcliffe is more dangerous than leading euthanasia advocate Hans Kung. At least, you know where you stand with Kung.

  • Ioannes

    Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring! The Dominicans I have met in the last few years are considerably younger than Fr Tim and far more orthodox, even to the extent of enthusiastically celebrating the traditional Use of their order, which predates Trent by three centuries. In fact, I have had to familiarize myself with Dominican chant in order to sing for it.

    There is no question of going back to the ‘sixties and restarting the revolution which was aborted when Paul VI got cold feet and when his successors refused to pick up the ball and run with it. Few people in Britain and North America realized that for a good quarter century before the Council great pressure for reform was building up, and the effect was like that of a dam bursting. Now the revolutionaries are in their dotage and the pressure from below is by no means unanimously in favour of further change; indeed, much of it is in a contrary direction.

    CMOC was on the Congregation for Bishops until he turned 80 and presumably ++Vincent was appointed to replace him. As Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, Ratzinger was aware of the situation in E&W, and we are told that when Michael Bowen retired as Archbishop of Southwark in 2003 a certain liberal south coast bishop was already packing his bags in anticipation. Ratzinger looked at the three names on the terna, picked up his pen and drew a line through all three. Given what appears to be a good working relationship between Francis and Gerhard Mueller, his not formally being a member of the Congregation is perhaps not that significant.

    Shortly after his election, Pope Francis stressed the key role of the nuncios in the selection of bishops, and Mennini, under whom episcopal appointments have been encouraging, remains in place. Mueller has suggested recently that National Conferences have become over-mighty – a remark clearly aimed at his native country, but relevant here as well. The days of the CBCEW as a self-perpetuating oligarchy are probably over. We shall see.

    • Louis

      I quite agree.

      A word of encouragement: sometimes it seems that we have an over clericalised view of the Church. I’m even resigned now to a Scouse papacy – but the Church belongs to the Lord, not the priest, bishop or pope. Read the pope carefully. He has a lot of confidence in the the faith of the people.

      Whenever prelates come out with fancy words to accommodate the world, to curry favour and “influence” (which is completely contrary to the authentic spirit of Gaudium et Spes etc.) the simple faithful can spot it straight away. Let the dead bury the dead. That’s how it works in China. While in neighboring Japan, the faith survived for over two hundred years without clergy, even without the Eucharist, for that matter. In the end, we will be judged by God, not the clergy.

  • Anne

    Just because Fr. Radcliffe is so renowned doesn’t mean anything to me if he teaches and speaks against the Church’s teaching publicly. By doing so he gives scandal to the faithful. Fr. Radcliffe OP is the main speaker at the Divine Mercy Conference in Dublin next year and I find that very unsettling. This Priest needs our prayers and not encouragement in his false teachings. As lay faithful we have to defend our Church and stand up for the teachings of Christ and where there is error, point it out. If we fail to do so, we will be answerable to the Lord for souls. I for one will be voicing my disapproval of Fr. Radcliffe as a speaker for the Divine Mercy Conference.

    • Lynda

      I am shocked that the Divine Mercy conference is putting this man forward as the main speaker, so leading many innocents devoted to DM astray! The vast majority attending that conference would have no idea of Fr Radcliffes heretical views (or that things he “teaches” do not conform to Church doctrine and the natural moral law). That would explain why my mother gave me a DVD of his! (She wasn’t aware of his unorthodox views.)

    • Pat

      But this is what Fr Radcliffe always does. He gets invited to all sorts of events – including orthodox ones – and spreads his lack of faith and errors and doubts, while masquerading as being ‘traditional’. The promoters of this Divine Mercy event should disinvite him, and quickly. If you know them, PLEASE forward this thread to them so they can see for themselves. I can guarantee that he will redefine mercy as hanging out with ‘gays’ and watching ‘Brokeback Mountain’ with them, etc, etc (see my above comment) while claiming that this is what Our Lord and St Faustina were really talking about. Pure modernism.

  • Rifleman819

    Exactly so…….what is eminence after all?
    A presumed status amongst one’s peers?
    You can be a most important lemming……but you still go over the cliff like the rest of them, don’t you?

  • Louis

    I’m perplexed by Fr Radcliffe’s views. Regardless of whether participants are gay or otherwise, isn’t using the gastric tract as a pseudo-sexual orifice not conducive towards to human flourishing? There is non-discriminatory medical “evidence” on the internet to that effect, which seems quite convincing to me, but whenever I point it out, it is just dismissed by others as homophobic Christian propaganda. What is the truth about this matter? If it is indeed detrimental to human health, how can it be described as a loving act?

    • Lynda

      Oral sexual acts are sinful. That’s always been taught; and is of course, rational.

      • Louis

        The office of bishop is one of unity. Surely, the Holy See can’t possibly appoint someone with divisive views on such key issues.

        Unless I have misunderstood the quotes from Fr Radcliffe, they seem to be saying that using the gastric tract as a (pseudo-)sexual orifice can be a Christ-like expression of love, with total disregard for the physical harm it may cause. To me, the flowery “pastoral” rhetoric is just beating about the bush, and seems to contradict the idea of loving one’s neighbour, but then I’m just a simple person, not given to convoluted ways of thinking.

        While the non-Christian society in which we live is busy normalising the use of the gastric tract as a (pseudo-)sexual orifice, why should Christians be obliged to follow. Indeed, as the pope has stated recently, we do not negotiate our fidelity with God. Surely, to follow the secular world on this matter is to act contrary to reason?

  • Bridget

    I know the main organizer of this event very well. He is a very orthodox catholic. I am now sending him this post and comments from Protect the Pope.

  • Rifleman819

    Disgraceful.It IS a loving act…..of course it must be.
    The BBC says it is.
    And it is wholeheartedly endorsed by Acts…StPeter Tatchell’s Acts of the Analists…….Chapter 69.
    Incredible that in this day and age you don’t know this!

  • Pat

    You are quite right to point out these issues, and the health problems that occur from rejecting the natural law. has a lot of medical information about the problems associated with homosexual activity. But, of course, there are those who will continue to peddle the lie that HIV/AIDS is now only a minor inconvenience these days, and not a death sentence, due to the medication available. Whatever. But an ex-colleague of mine who was diagnosed as HIV+ in the early 1990′s died very recently and he was 40 years old. Dress it up how you like, it’s no life.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      Some time ago there was leaflet on the Terence Higgins website describing all the various perverted acts and what you should do to keep healthy when doing them. It was quite enough to convince anyone of the dangers.

    • Louis

      My concern is that nowadays anyone who dares to point the health risks of using the gastric tract as a pseudo-sexual orifice (whether the participants are of the same sex is actually irrelevant, as significant and increasing numbers of heterosexual partners are encouraged by society to engage in said harmful practices) is dismissed as a Christian homophobic nonsense. No attempt is made to refute the claims from a scientific basis. We are just bullied into silence. There is no hatred or malice intended when I point out these basic facts.

      These leaflets were freely distributed in local hospital blood test clinics in my part of the UK. The attitude seems to me that accepting the risks and dangers is part and parcel of the modern lifestyle. I read something recently that suggested HIV is no longer an issue because as it can be controlled by drugs, it’s just another chronic illness. Who in their right mind would want to be dependent on medication for the rest of one’s life, if one could avoid it?

  • Bob Hayes

    Quite often the question is posed, ‘Why is the Catholic Church obsessed with sex?’. That question is not only unfounded, it completely overlooks the real conundrum. The question that should surely be asked/addressed is, Why is there a vocal coterie of priests obsessed with sexual acts?

    • Louis

      Because they want to be merciful, compassionate and pastoral, just like the Holy Father, they would argue. Pity they aren’t as astute as Papa Bergoglio in sensing the whispers of the father of lies.

    • Lynda

      It is the devil that is obsessed with using the perversion of sex to gain souls. Look at the constant sexual perversion throughout our very degraded society, and how it destroys innocence, goodness, childhood, marriage, family, etc. Our society has degraded and twisted the natural sexuality of man. Children and others are everywhere abused by having perverse and obscene notions and images of sex forced upon them, with state sanction.

    • BJC


      Good point, and I think joining the dots we all know why.

  • Wake Up England

    Is the act of fellatio objectively sinful between a married couple?

    For the purpose of this question I am, of course, assuming the husband’s ejaculation is in his wife’s vagina and thus the possibility of the wife conceiving is not frustrated.

    Personally, I should have thought, if used as a sexual arousal technique prior (or indeed after) intercourse, it would be perfectly morally permissible. The Church teaches us, after all, that sex is to be enjoyed. Surely this suggests scope for creativity?

    Doubtless I will be readily and speedily corrected if I’m wrong; but please may I ask for facts, not opinions?

    • Wake Up England: Germain Grisez deals a little with this question in his second volume of The Way of the Lord Jesus. I think it’s quite a good post-conciliar moral theology. Handily, it’s available for free online: you can find the section pertinent to your question here (you will need to scroll down to section 1.h.).

      I don’t know if older moral theology manuals would deal with this question; hopefully someone else on here will know!

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Readers of Protect the Pope, please can those involved on this thread avoid graphic descriptions of sexual acts. This is not meant as a criticism. Deacon Nick

      • Wake Up England

        Deacon Nick:

        Apologies if I’ve been overly graphic!

        • Lynda

          WUE, I think it is too graphic for this forum or any public forum. One ought to be very careful not to describe sexual acts in detail and possibly cause another (or oneself) to sin. One ought to strive for modesty and purity in thoughts and words as well as action.

          • Wake Up England

            Lynda, and Matthew Hazell:

            According to the work of moral theology which Matthew Hazell gives a link to, it is just as I predicted. It is therefore quite wrong of anyone to suggest that oral sex between a man and his wife is sinful.

            This form of sex has been described, quite wrongly in this thread (above) to be immoral; and it is most important that married people reading this are not mislead.

            The objection to this perfectly morally legitimate form of love-making appears to be misguided Victorian arch prudery; it certainly is not prohibited by Catholic Moral Theology.

            If you don’t believe me, click on Matthew Hazell’s link above and read for yourself.

            Reason must teach us that husband and wife have a perfect moral right to an exciting and creating love-life with one another provided that the full possibility of the woman becoming pregnant is not compromised.

            I should think there is a good case for considering DISCOURAGEMENT of a full and exciting sexual love life between husband and wife is immoral.

          • Lynda

            No, WUE, you are in error. Oral sexual actions are intrinsically evil according to universal and timeless natural law and Catholic doctrine. Many people are in error on this because so many priests and theologians “teach” falsehoods or fail to teach the truth. People have been lead astray by a pornography-soaked culture. See my link to short clear piece with imprateur. It is a grave sin for those in authority to lead their flocks into sin.

          • Wake Up England

            Deacon Nick:

            There’s no question that Lynda’s link looks absolutely bona fide. and it has an imprimatur.

            However Matthew Hazell’s link looks perfectly bona fide too.

            However, the two links say diametrically opposed things about oral sex between a husband and wife. Matthew’s says it’s perfectly okay whilst Lynda’s says it’s not-at-all okay!

            Please will you tell us which one is correct?

          • [[Rev. Donnelly: please publish and/or adjust the following as you see fit, and accept my apologies if my efforts to discuss this issue in a proper way have failed.]]

            Lynda: Oral sexual actions are intrinsically evil according to universal and timeless natural law and Catholic doctrine.

            This is true of those acts not ordered directly towards marital intercourse, i.e. acts that are intended to give complete sexual satisfaction without intercourse. Such acts would be likely to constitute masturbation, which is obviously forbidden by natural law and the teaching of the Church (cf. CCC 2352). However, your statement is not necessarily true of every single instance of “oral sexual actions”. I think we might have a problem with terms here, and what different people think them to mean.

            To me, the term “oral sex” implies a sexual act complete in itself that is not in keeping with the nature of the marital act–in other words, an act essentially separate from marital intercourse, not ordered towards it (as I mentioned above). In that sense, yes, “oral sex” would be excluded as something married couples could legitimately do. But “oral sex” is a subset of the wider term “oral sexual actions”. Not everything that could be described as an “oral sexual action” is the same as what I (and, I would imagine, most people) think of as “oral sex”. The two terms are, in my opinion, similar, but not the same.

            There was a quote from <a href=";your linked article that sums up that author’s opinions (and also, I suspect, yours) on oral sexual actions within marriage: The spouse is not the focus of the sexual foreplay; rather, sexual stimulation is the focus. But what if the spouse became the focus of such foreplay? Wouldn’t that then change the focus of the act, and therefore what it would be ordered towards? To quote Grisez:

            [L]ike intercourse itself, such acts [short of intercourse] are chaste only insofar as spouses seek in them, not pleasure alone, but the wider good of marital communion in which pleasure is a subordinate element.

            In conclusion, insofar as “oral sexual actions” serve the wider good of marriage, they would appear to be morally fine; obviously they cease to be fine when they do not serve the good of marriage. So I think you’re overreaching when you (seemingly) blanket all such actions as being “intrinsically evil”, but I’m willing to admit that I could be wrong. If you could provide some documentary evidence or citations of magisterial teaching that all such acts are de facto wrong, that would be helpful.

            Wake Up England: I don’t think the author of Lynda’s link and Grisez are “diametrically opposed”. As I alluded to above, I think the apparent differences are more to do with what Presentation Ministries mean when they use the term “oral sex”. Grisez is quite precise with his terms, which is to be expected from a long, detailed text such as a moral theology; Presentation Ministries are less precise, which is to be expected from a text that I assume was originally pamphlet-length.

            (By the way, the quote from Pope Ven. Pius XII found in Lynda’s link and in the Catechism at para. 2362 is taken from this talk he gave to midwives in 1951. It has little to do with the topic above, but it’s definitely worth a read!)

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Important clarification by Pope Francis according to Sandro Magister:

    “The first point is communion for the divorced and remarried. The pope wanted to clarify that he was not referring to this when in the apostolic exhortation he spoke of communion as “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

    Good to see these clarifications!

    • Wake Up England

      Perhaps if the original statements were a bit clearer, we wouldn’t need subsequent “clarification”.

      The “clarifications” (which appear always to be necessary) never receive the same trumpeting attention from the press which inevitably spins-up the initial (ambiguous) statement. It’s become a pattern and hallmark of The Pope’s statements. I’m afraid I regard it as a confusing strategy.

      We appear to be heading (with encouragement) toward a “Spirit” of Catholicism, rather than actual, real Catholicism.

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