Friday, 22 February 2013

A Sign of Hope ?

I really hope these news reports are true.  For far too long the church has ignored the great chasm between what it teaches about homosexuality and what happens in the real world. It's about time the church set aside its predjudice as it has with torture, burning people alive, slavery and anti-semitism.

Perhaps then a renewed and more authentic church, truer to the teaching of Jesus, could live the Good News, taking his love into a thirsty world. Would'nt that be a new second spring of hope for the church and the world ?

Here's the two articles :-

Benedict resignation linked to inquiry into 'Vatican gay officials', says paper

Pope's staff decline to confirm or deny La Repubblica claims linking 'Vatileaks' affair and discovery of 'blackmailed gay clergy'

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Nurse challenges Abp. Nicholls on same sex marriage.

Vincent Nichols parading through Westminster Cathedral: A nurse has told him he should ditch the robes and his hatred of gays.This article from "Gay Star News" deserves a widespread read !

Nurse destroys archbishop’s gay marriage stance with a stroke of her pen

A 65-year-old former nurse has told the leader of England’s Catholics to ditch the robes, the Latin and activism against gays and start helping the needy

A 65-year-old former nurse has delivered a withering telling off to the Archbishop of Westminster – England’s most senior Catholic – for his stance on gay marriage.

The woman, who now works with animals and lives in northern England, says she has been married for 30 years but gay marriage doesn’t threaten the status of her relationship whatsoever.

And she says Archbishop Vincent Nichols and his church have become obsessed with gay sex, ignoring the real problems of society – the economy, schools, hospitals and our children’s future.

She tells him the so-called ‘Princes of the Church’ should ditch the ‘silk, the gold, the Gucci shoes, the ridiculous tall hats’ in favor of a simple pilgrim’s staff and get on with helping real people.

And she says Jesus ‘appears to have happily shared meals with prostitutes, drunkards, lepers, Gentiles and I do not doubt with people of same-sex orientation’.

Nichols has campaigned vigorously against same-sex marriage but she warns him the church’s propaganda calling homosexuality ‘disordered’ and ‘evil’ makes it impossible for the LGBT faithful to feel at home in Catholicism.

She has requested to remain anonymous but asked GSN to share her letter. We understand that she has received a reply from Nichols, but it failed to address the substance of her comments.
You can read her letter here:

Dear Archbishop,

I listened to your letter of Sunday 3 February in which you asked us as a matter of urgency to either send a postcard provided or write to our local MP to request him to vote against the government’s proposed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. I came out of the church with two thoughts and one resolve. Firstly I thought ‘Lord pity and help any gay person sitting listening to that letter’ not a word a charity or understanding did it contain. Secondly I thought or asked ‘Where in that is the love of Christ for all humankind?’ My resolve was not to contact my MP.

That decision was not made because of the tone of your letter however. I do not find it at all easy or even possible to uphold the church’s teaching on homosexuality. Among gay people of my acquaintance are those who have a deep spiritual life, to have one’s sexual orientation, an orientation that one is born with, described as an ‘objective disorder’ and to hear homosexual acts described as ‘intrinsically evil’ surely makes it almost impossible to feel at home or welcome in the church. It is utterly unrealistic to expect homosexual people to live celibate lives (We all know that many priests find this very difficult and sometimes impossible). The revelations of clerical sex abuse have led many of us to look with a very critical eye on the so-called celibate life and to realize that it has all to often lead to warped and destructive behavior.

To return to same-sex marriage, can it be abhorrent that two people of the same sex would wish to experience that emotional and physical closeness that marriage offers? We believe that God is love and so it must follow that in every loving and committed relationship God must be present – or does this, in your understanding, only apply in heterosexual relationships? Is heterosexuality more valued by God and by the church than homosexuality? You are, I suppose, aware that there are more than a few homosexual men in the priesthood and that nowadays heterosexual men are much less willing to embrace the celibate life. Is the good work done by such men less valuable in the eyes of this church? If so is it further evidence of its dysfunctional state?

I am 65 years of age and have been married for almost 30 years. I would so have appreciated an explanation from you or any of the hierarchy exactly how my long and happy marriage will be threatened by the union of gay couples. When I meet people in my day to day existence they talk about the economic climate (bad), lack of employment (bad), uncertain future for their children (bad), state of schools, hospitals (bad) – never ever has anybody expressed concern about a threat to their marriage by the proposed legalizing of same-sex marriage. You, the church, claim that marriage is the bedrock of society and indeed it is but you also seem to consider it so fragile that allowing a few gay people access to it will endanger it forever. Here the implicit homophobia cannot be ignored.

Sadly you still think your pronouncements will be accepted without question by a meek credulous herd. You have spent far too much time telling us just how sinful we are while drawing veils of respectability over your own grievous wrongdoings.

I sometimes despair of this church, this institution. It seems to me in my reading of the Gospels that Jesus had no problem whatsoever with those who were considered outsiders or exceptions. He appears to have happily shared meals with prostitutes, drunkards, lepers, Gentiles and I do not doubt with people of same-sex orientation since such an orientation has existed since time began. The church seems much happier with its version of order over compassion and love towards the so-called exceptions. It has an appalling history of excluding and torturing those who do not think or subscribe to its definition of ‘right’.

The world is facing disaster on all levels and this church, when not obsessing about matters sexual, spends an inordinate amount of time on pointless activities such as changing the liturgy back to a correct translation of the original Latin – a language not spoken by Jesus but spoken by the oppressors of his time and country. Do you imagine that this obsession with precisely translated texts will win you a single new adherent? To me, you (particularly but not exclusively the hierarchy) appear to be a frightened group of men preoccupied with titles, clothing and other religious externals. You seem, with some wonderful and brave exceptions, to pay only lip service to ecumenism and matters of social justice. I would love to see the so-called ‘Princes of the Church’ (Where did all these triumphant, utterly anti-Gospel titles you award yourselves come from?) get rid of the silk, the gold, the Gucci shoes, the ridiculous tall hats, croziers, fancy soutanes etc etc and substitute bare heads and a simple pilgrim’s staff on all liturgical occasions and that might be taken as a small outward sign of your inner acceptance of fundamental Gospel values.

I seem to have digressed somewhat but to return to where I started, same-sex marriage. I will always be unsure of the validity of any principle or opinion that makes one act in an unkind or intolerant way. Toleration, of course, has its limits, I want you to cry out against injustice and cruelty. Explain to me please exactly how marriage will be ‘changed forever’ by the proposed new laws, specifically tell me how my marriage will be threatened.

I admit that I am not very well versed on biblical texts and I know that there are those who can find a text to confirm any prejudice without having to resort to any sort of reasonable debate but surely if we accept one piece of scripture (Lev 18:22) which declares homosexuality to be an abomination, to judge what is right or wrong, we must accept them all. Following this logic we are therefore forbidden to wear garments made of two different kinds of thread (Lev 19:19), men must never have their hair trimmed especially around the temples (Lev 19:27). According to Lev 25:44 I may possess slaves provided they are purchased from neighboring nations, not sure if this applies to non-members of the EU! As for organizing the stoning of transgressors – well, a logistical nightmare!

Archbishop, we have grasped the principles of evolution, stopped burning witches and holding heresy trials, discounted the flat earth theory. Do you now think we could move the debate about equal human rights for people of same-sex orientation and also the status of women in the church on by a few millennia please?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Get the Facts Straight !

Thanks to +Anthony in Australia for flagging up this interesting post from UCA News

Get the facts straight

Beware of imminent attempts to rewrite Church history
Catholic Church News Image of .Author - Fr William Grimm, TokyoFr William Grimm, Tokyo
2012-10-03 13:55:20
In 1999, following the 1998 Special Synod of Bishops for Asia, Pope John Paul II went to India to issue the post-synod exhortation, Ecclesia in Asia. It was billed as a summary of the synod discussions, "to convey the wealth of that great spiritual event of communion and episcopal collegiality."

It was not. The document is riddled with distortions and even outright lies meant to advance an agenda of the Vatican rather than that of the synod fathers.

At the time, I asked a bishop who had been at the synod about that, and he commented, "That’s all right. We know what we said."

October 11 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. The anniversary is being marked by a "Year of Faith." Unless preliminary indications and predictions are wrong, during the year we will probably see yet another case of the Vatican and its minions rewriting the history of the Church.

So, as this anniversary period begins, it is worthwhile to get firmly planted in our hearts and minds a few basic facts about Vatican II, facts by which we can evaluate the various interpretations, reinterpretations, misinterpretations and misrepresentations that will be promulgated in the coming year.

The salient fact about Vatican II is that it was an ecumenical council, the latest of only twenty-one in the two-millennia history of the Church. It was not a cabal of subversives out to destroy the Church. Apart from a handful of bishops who were unable to attend because of health or political problems (those from some communist countries, for example), the participants were every active Catholic bishop in the world. Catholic teaching reminds us that in such a gathering, the Holy Spirit is also a powerful participant. As such, it was and is to be respected as a specially authoritative voice of the Church.

Of course, those who try to make Vatican II something it wasn’t claim that it was misinterpreted. However, the "interpreters" were the very bishops who had been there and voted on the documents that came out of the council. It was they who oversaw the implementation of the directions the council had set.

Something to keep in mind about those bishops as well is that they were not a bunch of feckless radicals. Not one of them, except for those from the Eastern rites, had ever celebrated Mass in any language but Latin. Obviously, not one of them was a post-Vatican II priest. They had, for the most part, been ordained priests in the 1910s, 20s 30s and 40s. The theology in which they had been trained was traditional, and they had studied it in Latin.

Nor did the bishops of Vatican II naively follow a group of radical theologians without understanding what they were doing. In fact, the opposite was the case. When the bishops arrived for the council, they found that Vatican curialists had already tried to take control of the process. Not at all compliant or naive, the majority of the council fathers took control, over and over again defeating attempts on the part of others to steer the content of deliberations and statements in a conservative direction.

And, what have been the fruits of Vatican II? Well, when all the world’s bishops gathered at the Vatican in 1962, there were about 2,800 of them. The Church has grown so much in the 50 years since then that an ecumenical council today would have to provide seats for more than 5,000 bishops.

There are now more than one billion Catholics in the world, and the number increases by millions each year, arguably a sign that the Holy Spirit is working through the Church that was reinvigorated by the council.

If during the "Year of Faith" you hear complaints about Vatican II and its stress upon the Church as the People of God, about collegiality, about confident encounter with the "joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties" of people today, about respectful encounter with other religions, about worship marked by "full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations," about reminders that "the revision of liturgical books should allow for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions and peoples" — if you hear such complaints, no matter the source, remember the facts and give the complaints the attention they deserve. None at all.

Fr William Grimm MM, based in Tokyo, is the publisher of

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Can you be Gay and Catholic ?

"As part of the Perspectives series, BBC Religion and Ethics asked two contributors, both practising Roman Catholics to express their different standpoints. The Church's view is that sex should only take place within a marriage between a man and a woman. "

Read the whole conversation and contribute comments by clicking here.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI loses his grip . . . . .

Pope Benedict’s final Mass before the announcement of his resignation occurred on the feast of the Presentation.  In the closing moments, as Pope Benedict venerated the altar after the 'ite missa est', something happened that I’m surprised hasn't been commented upon.  

Pope Benedict loses his grip of the processional cross.  It plummets, but is  thankfully caught by Msgr Marini.  A simple human action, but one open to mis-interpretation ?  

Perhaps Stanisław Dziwisz might have something to say in the light of his comments about Pope John Paul II carrying his cross to the end ?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Reflection on the Resignation of Benedict XVI

from the website of RC Church in England and Wales
I’d love to be able to write something ‘nice’ after the resignation of Pope Benedict. 

It’s not up to me to judge him or his papacy.  Jesus called us to love.  He called us to leave the weed amongst the chaff.   There are big questions that need facing by the RC Church at this time.  Perhaps Benedict recognised this in his resignation speech.

“in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith,”
I’ve no idea what Benedict thinks these questions are. Many would only be guessing if they thought they knew. 
If the church is to be catholic it should embrace all, be here for all and respect all.  It cannot continue to sanction, impose, discipline and divide. Judgment is for God.  If it is to continue on it’s present course, it’s judgments will only be to promote its own theology of Church and not the Gospel of Jesus,  who taught us to forgive 77 times and let those without sin cast the first stone.
I wonder where this Biblical wisdom is when it comes to sanction and excommunications.  The Church prefers to oust people, who have served the church for decades, who raise these difficult questions whilst dragging its feet to condemn the sexual abuse of children by its clergy.  
Why does the church view people of the same sex who love each other as being ‘intrinsically disordered’ whilst sanctioning the killing of others in a just war – in contravention of the 5th commandment.  How can it care for the unborn child, fight for the rights of the elderly, yet still sanction killing?
As for Biblical wisdom . . . . Scripture scholarship has made great leaps and bounds in the last 100 years.  When we speak of ‘Gospel truth’ we have to question what that truth is? For example, many accept the Magnificat as the words of Mary when they are a re-working of old testament passages.  Since Charles Darwin, the creation of the world in 7 days has been called into question and biblical scholarship supports the view that the Genesis account is a story, albeit a theological one.
Dare I mention the details of the nativity story ? This too is considered in the same way as the Genesis account of creation, as a theological treatise, by biblical scholars.  Why then does the Church of St Mary Major in Rome publicise it’s relics of Jesus crib ? Is this an honest church?  Is this what some in the church would propagate as truth?
We need a church that is a mature church.  We need a church that promotes reality and truth.  Not a truth that excludes, but one that unites. We need a church that encourages a spiritual maturity rather than a culture of immature dependence where it’s members are expected to pray, pay and obey. Of course, no organisation is going to be all things to all people.
Jesus subjected himself to the Cross.  The church, in its wisdom, appears not to subject itself to anything, let alone accept it’s own immolation as Jesus did.  Let’s not forget, Jesus is the son of God – God incarnate, Immanuel – God with us. It appears that the Church values ‘tradition, over and above the teaching of it’s Saviour.
So what of the future ? It will be in God’s hands. God has no hands on earth but ours, as St Theresa of Avila said. God calls us all to love.  Was God waiting throughout all of history and pre history for the ‘exclusive’ hands of the Roman Catholic church ?  I think not.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Magdalen Laundries

Mother Maria Francesca, one of our Liverpool sisters, supports those women abused by the Church and Government in Ireland.  Those women who were press ganged into the Magdalen Launderies deserve an unconditional apology and recognition of the unjustice they suffered at the hands of the 'authorities.'        So many issues affecting the integrity of the RC Church at the moment.  They can't be pushed aside.  Neither can those who raise the issues be described as being unfaithful to the church or somehow unfaithful to the Gospel.       No one can dispute that the church would readily excomunicate a priest who raises issues such as female priests or married priest, as in the case of Roy Borgeois and yet not excommunicate priests who abuse children.  How can anyone reconcile this ?       Jesus said that good trees produce good fruit and rotten trees produce rotten fruit.  there is so much rotten fruit about at the moment in the RC church. I wonder what fertilizer it will use to turn this sad state of affairs around ?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Fr Tony Flannery radio interview.

TomFlannery140.jpgA Radio interview with Fr Tony Flannery was broadcast on a Canadian Radio Station.  Michael Enrights' show "The Sunday Edition," carries the interview which can be found on the website here.  It may also be possible to click this link.

Here is the introduction to the interview, copied from the website:

For 39 years Tony Flannery (below) has been a priest of the the Redemptorist Order, in Ireland. He has done many of the things priests do ... celebrate mass, hear confession, administer last rites, baptise babies, counsel sinners and console the bereft.

In addition to the practical pastoral duties he agreed to undertake, Tony Flannery has written about faith, morality and religion in the modern world. He has published 6 books and written for numerous publications.

By all accounts, Tony Flannery is a man of the cloth, a man of the people and a man who pays close attention to his own conscience.Tony Flannery is also a priest at odds with the most powerful body in the Vatican, next to the Pope of course, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In earlier times, it was known as The Inquisition. Nowadays, the Congregation, which was once headed by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI, spends much of its time rooting out heresy, controversy and any hint of straying from the official line of the Church.

Awhile back, the Congregation turned its attention to Tony Flannery, primarily for his opinons about the nature of the priesthood, whether women could be priests and a number of quarrels with the Church's stance on matters relating to sexuality. The fact that Tony Flannery was a founder of the Association of Priests and a fierce critic of the way the Church had handled the sex abuse tragedy in Ireland may have also alerted the Congregation to Father Flannery.

The Congregation, after some "investigation and negotiation", ordered Father Flannery to stop administering the sacraments, cease publication of his writings, avoid the media and formally and publicly agree to a certain set of statements about his acceptance and endorsement of Church teachings on the priesthood, sexuality and the ultimate authority of the Church in interpreting the word of God.

Late in January, Father Flannery publicly suggested that if he was to agree to the demands of the Congregation, he would be unable to look himself in the mirror. He spoke to Michael Enright from Galway, Ireland.