[NEW UPDATE 16th Feb: Today it got worse rather than better. The Herald Sun seems unaware that Fr Bob has asked for a “retraction”.
UPDATE 15th Feb: I have just seen on Cathnews in the comments to their report on this article the following comment:
On Twitter, Fr Bob said he was misquoted and seeks retraction.
That being so, be good if CathNews retracted also for repeating it. This is what he said on Twitter feed, @FatherBob: ‘Spread the word,comrades. I will not do gay weddings.I cannot do gay weddings.The H/S headliner is wrong.Get retraction 4 me.’
I welcome his retraction (or correction, if indeed the HS misquoted him), and hope that he will be able to make this a little more public than just on “Twitter”. It shows the danger of any priest speaking his mind to the press on such delicate matters.]
Dear Fr Bob,
This is just a short letter to let you know that your latest foray into the public square (“Gay marriage lobbyists welcome Fr Bob McGuire’s pledge”) is, at the very best, a great muddying of the waters around the issue of the Church’s stance with regard to the pastoral care of homosexually attracted persons. I fear that the real effect will be to cause great confusion among Catholics and non-Catholics in general. The truth is that your statement of intention in the matter of civil unions – if carried out – will have the effect of leading those whom you purport to care for deeper into mortal sin with your blessing.
You know as well as anyone (or you should) that the Catholic Church makes a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts.
The Catechism reminds us (§2357) that
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.
I fear that your public statement is actually a statement (whether you intended this or not) which condones homosexual acts. You are a priest of the Catholic Church. You should take to heart that the Church teaches that under NO circumstance are such acts to “be approved”. If a priest blesses a same sex union, even if it does not take place within a Catholic church building, that priest is acting in the name of the Church to do something that the Church has expressly prohibited. It isn’t a matter of where the blessing takes place, but that you, as a priest, would be the one doing it.
Your desire to give pastoral care to homosexually attracted persons is admirable. This is what all Catholics are cared to do with compassion and love. Again, the Catechism teaches us (§ 2358) that people in this situation:
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.
Nevertheless (Catechism § 2359):
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
When a homosexual person seeks to enter a publically recognised form of “union” with another person of the same sex, it is testimony to the fact that they do not intend to live chastely with the kind of “self-mastery” to which the Christian gospel calls them. If you bless a couple who have the intention of living in a homosexual union which is sexually acted out, you are blessing an action which is “intrinsically disordered” and which, when done intentionally and with full knowledge of the gravity of their sin, is a mortal sin. Not to put too fine a point on it, you are confirming them in sin.
Such a “blessing” can never be an authentic part of Christian pastoral care for the sinner. You, as a priest, have the duty to call sinners to repentance, and to give them God’s absolution when they repent and seek to amend their lives accordingly.
Please give deep consideration to the damage you are doing to individual consciences by your words in this matter. I implore you, having considered the unwiseness of your statement, to retract your public statement in an equally public manner. I ask this for the sake of the Church, for the sake of the people in your care, for your own sake, and above all for the sake of Jesus Christ, of whom you are a called and ordained servant.
In deepest charity,