Monday 16 March 2015

Catholic authorities' platform for Fr Radcliffe is a grave betrayal of trust

Young people, their parents and clergy
were betrayed by organisers
of Flame 2 youth event 
Once again Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the well-known dissenter from Catholic teaching,  is being given an official platform by Catholic authorities to spread his unorthodox views in England and Wales.

Fr Radcliffe will be speaking tomorrow evening on the theme "Tolerant and Free despite being Catholic" as part of the Archdiocese of Westminster’s “Faith Matters” series of Lenten talks at Vaughan House.

Even more disturbing was Fr Radcliffe’s invitation to address thousands of young people at the Flame 2 youth event earlier this month. To invite a known dissenter from Catholic teaching like Fr Radcliffe to speak to young people, under the cover of a supposedly Catholic youth event, was a grave betrayal of the trust that parents and clergy across the country placed in the organisers - and a betrayal of the young people who expect to be taught the truth in love.

Please read my brief outline of Fr Radcliffe’s dissent from Catholic teaching below and please write to the organisers of both events charitably to  express your concerns.

From a pro-life perspective, it is absolute essential that we act now to protect our children and grandchildren’s right to receive the Catholic faith from Catholic authorities - on matters relating to human sexuality, remembering the words of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae paragraph 97, where he taught that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

To express your concerns about “Faith Matters” contact:
Ausra Karaliute, STL
Adult Faith Formation Adviser
Agency for Evangelisation
Vaughan House
46 Francis Street

Email: or Ausara Karaliute's immediate manager Bishop Hudson at

“Flame 2” contact:
CYMFed Board
Catholic Youth Ministry Federation
39 Eccleston Square
London, SW1V 1BX

Outline of Fr Radcliffe’s dissent from Catholic teaching

In the context of Fr Radcliffe's open dissent from Catholic teaching on homosexuality, it's important to keep in mind the teaching of the Church as expressed in The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2357 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, 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 and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
In his submission to the Church of England Pilling Commission on human sexuality, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, Fr Radcliffe made the following comments about “gay sexuality”:

“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.”

In a 10 March 2012 article in The Tablet entitled "Can marriage ever change", Fr Radcliffe wrote:
"This is not to denigrate committed love of people of the same sex. This too should be cherished and supported, which is why church leaders are slowly coming to support same-sex civil unions. The God of love can be present in every true love."
The confusion caused to those attending the “Soho masses” was eloquently described by Mrs Daphne McLeod of the organisation Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice:
“I do feel that this pretence and condoning is not in any way compassionate or pastoral. These Catholics need and deserve proper guidance, especially the young one who have not received good religious instruction. I cannot forget the poor young man who said to me ‘Don’t worry about Daphne, if it were still wrong these Masses wouldn’t have been arranged especially for us.’”
In a 26 November 2005 article in The Tablet entitled "Can gays be priests?" Fr Radcliffe rejected the clear teaching of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's document on "Persons with homosexual tendencies and the priesthood".

The document states that it is forbidden to ordain men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” to the priesthood. Fr Radcliffe responded:
...we may presume that God will continue to call both homosexuals and heterosexuals to the priesthood because the Church needs the gift of both.
Criticising Fr Radcliffe's interpretation, Fr Alphonsus de Valk wrote that:
"The article has done a disservice to the attempting to deconstruct the Vatican warnings ... In unjustly deriding the Vatican warnings, Fr. Radcliffe has given succor to other detractors."
In 2006, Fr Radcliffe joined Britain's leading dissenting “Catholics” in contributing an essay to "Opening up: Speaking out in the Church", a book of essays produced as a tribute to Martin Pendergast, one of Britain's leading Christian homosexual activists and one of the organisers of the Soho gay Masses. The book co-edited by Julian Filochowski, Pendergast's civil partner, and Peter Stanford, another well-known dissenter from Catholic sexual ethics.

On 10 July 2009, Fr Radcliffe gave a talk to a Catholic parish in Mashpee, Massachusetts, which he said:
"It's not that sexual ethics are particularly important. I don't think they are" (video at 8min40sec)
"We have to find ways of promoting our vision of the Christian family so as we can have a context within which to raise children, another generation; but we have to do it in a way which doesn't trash the relationships that people actually have." (video at 1min)
This echoes Fr Radcliffe's words in:
  • a 28 January 2006 article in The Tablet ("How to discover what we believe") in which he wrote:"[S]hould 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 ... I confess that I do not know the answer."
    During his 2009 Mashpee talk, Fr Radcliffe was asked about relations between the Catholic Church and the newly-elected strongly pro-abortion President Barack Obama. He replied (video at 9mins28secs) that:
    "I think that the most important thing is to have a mutually-respectful dialogue with President Obama. He is a very bright man. I have to say that when he was elected, in England you cannot believe the excitement we had. And I believe that he is a man with whom the Church can be in dialogue, on all sorts of issues."
    Fr Radcliffe then called to the stage Professor Thomas Groome to speak as an expert on the Church's "dialogue" with Mr Obama. As has detailed, Professor Groome is a leading dissenter from Catholic teaching within the world of Catholic education. Cardinal George Pell banned his books within the Archdiocese of Sydney. Professor Groome said (video at 0mins40secs) that:
    • Obama "on many, many issues, really embraces Catholic social teaching"
    • "many Catholics would not be in favour" of banning all abortions
    • banning all abortions would "to send abortions back to the back-alleys of our country"
    • Obama is "deeply committed to reducing the numbers of abortions"
    • Catholics "can work with" Obama on the abortion issue.
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