The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

As a Catholic student in the seventies and eighties, it would have then seemed incredible that we should have now reached this impasse in the Church, where posturing is preferred over truth-telling, denial over pastoral care, scape-goating over integration and so on and so on. I suppose I should have realized that all was not as it should be when I was waiting for a public audience with Paul VI, and a priest in a cassock tried to solicit me in St Peter’s claiming he was conducting a survey into sexuality. That grubby encounter was prophetic in a way that Humanae Vitae was not. The problem is the clergy. At best there is a cognitive dissonance; more often a shattering absence of integrity. Martin Leahy below rightly asks this at the highest level: what on earth could Pope Benedict XVI have been thinking when he announced that homosexuals could not be ordained? Where had he been living? To his credit, Cardinal Nichols at least showed a sense of humour when he secured his red hat finally by kicking out the LGBT community from the Assumption, London, and handing the church over to the Ordinariate – a positive hotbed of heterosexuals, I don’t think.

It is painful now to recall that in the years after the Council, churches of many denominations were often safe houses for meetings of gay groups meeting to discuss what were and remain issues of civil rights, justice and peace. Churches were often ahead of civil society. Now priests in the UK think it incumbent upon them to sign a letter to The Daily Telegraph warning of the danger of gay marriage or a petition demanding that the traditional teaching on marriage be upheld at all costs. At all costs to whom? One of the Catholic priests, who had put his signature to both, had not so long ago offered to perform the ceremony should I wish to marry another man. I confess that I had become so used to the ways of the clergy that I expressed scarcely any surprise at this inconsistency – that would be just for the poor suckers in the pew.

We cannot continue in this poisoned vein of dishonesty. The need to maintain so called traditional teaching on gay relationships, contraception and divorce has become idolatrous, a false god, a god not of the living but of the dead. The late Oxford Dominican, Gareth Moore, wrote a book which deserves to be better known, which he called simply “A Matter of Truth”: no special pleading, no appeal for tolerance, just detailed forensic debunking of the Biblical and Natural Law arguments imposing upon same sex couples nonsensical and intolerable burdens, which are not necessarily kept by those who demand them.

{jcomments on}