An Open Letter to Fr Bob Maguire

[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,

David Schütz.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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150 Responses to An Open Letter to Fr Bob Maguire

  1. Gareth says:

    As bad as Fr Bob’s comment was, in fairness he was taken slightly out of context and did include comments opposing abortion and euthanasia – it is just that the media chose to highlight the controvesial part.

    Could it be that the Church’s pissy stance on homsexual orientation and treating those with ‘respect’ (which easily can be twisted as in Fr Bob’s case) in an attempt to appear ‘nice’ leads such priests to hold such opinions.

    • Schütz says:

      You must have a fuller context of his words than was printed, Gareth. Can you plesase give us the link?

      • Gareth says:

        Hi David,

        In my local paper (Mercury, p.7.), the article ‘priest says he’s happy to wed gay couples by Phil Tatnel, which is probably a cut and paste job from the Herald Sun, at the end of the article it says Father Maguire also called on the Catholic Church to address other burning issues including abortion, asylum seekers and euthanasia.

        When I read this, I knew he had been slightly taken out of context.

        Never the less, I agree I don’t think you are being too harsh.

        Father McGuire must be naive to claim naivety of talking with the mainstream press and not thinking they will milk it for all its worth. No sorrow for people who play with fire and get burnt.

        His comments were off-colour.

    • catherine says:

      Gareth what do you mean by “the Church’s pissy stance on homosexual orientation and treating those with ‘respect’. Do you disagree with the statement that homosexuals/lesbians

      “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.”

      I have worked with many gays and lesbians who have been very badly treated by their family and the public in general.I know of gay men who are too anxious to go to work or walk down the street for fear of encountering homophobia. They did not choose their sexual orientation, they always had same sex attraction issues. Research indicates that hormone levels in utero influence whether or not someone will be homosexual. Certainly, the gays and lesbians I know did not CHoose their orientation, they always felt that way and their lives have been very painful as a consequence.

      Any Catholic who is homophobic needs to take the Church’s statement to heart and GET AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT!

      • Tony says:

        Good call Catherine. Any chance of a clarification, Gareth?

        David, you responded to Gareth’s post without defending the church against the assertion of a ‘pissy stance’. It’s always dangerous to conclude something about someone because of what they didn’t do or say, but do you not think it worth a comment?

      • jules says:

        catherine,

        1. Where is your evidence about ‘hormone levels in utero ‘? I have never seen or heard of such.
        2. Just because a catholic or the Catholic Church takes a very high view of marriage and human sexuality this does not equate to ‘homophobia’.That word is used by homosexual activists to end rational discussion of the issue by accusing their opponents of having an irrational fear. This is unjust. One can disagree with and be critical of a behaviour without having a fear of it. When the charge of “homophobia” is made, it signifies that those making the accusation do not have reasoned responses to their critics, so they switch to portraying their critics as irrational rather than responding to their arguments.
        3. While the Church does recognise homosexuality as disordered, this does not mean that the Church is not compassionate!
        4. The church is that concerned about homosexual lifestyles it is the leading institution that supports doctors concerned about sexually transmitted diseases. Eg..Male homosexuals are particularly prone to develop sexually transmitted diseases and dying of AIDS. The nature of sodomy contributes to the problem among male homosexuals. This endangers the health of individuals, communities and whole nations. Not to mention what it does morally!

        • Gareth says:

          Catherine: Gareth what do you mean by “the Church’s pissy stance on homosexual orientation and treating those with ‘respect’. Do you disagree with the statement that homosexuals/lesbians “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.

          Gareth: The problem with that section in the Catechism is just excactly does it mean or how much can it be twisted?

          If it means in Fr Bob’s case that ministers of God’s church who are called to preach God’s words give their blessings to homosexual activity in any shape or form then that piece in the Catechism has seriously not served its purpose and in Fr Bob’s case has been seriously taken out of context to suit a political agenda.

          I note that a true pastor Saint Paul when confronting homosexual activity and indeed the Church before Vatican II didn’t mince words when it came to sexual immortality of any kind. His message was simple – homosexuality is a grevious offence to God and can not be tolerated in any shape or form.

          Make no exceptions – God ca not make it cleare, no practising homsexual or any other unrepetant adulter will enter the kingdom of God.

          Now let me play reverse games, Catherine and Tony?
          Do you accept the Catechism and Biblical views that homosexual activity is a abomination in God’s eyes?

          Because accept anything less, you truly are not being faithful to the Catechism that we should be just to sinners.

          • Gareth says:

            And in case you were wondering, yes I believe that paragraph in the CCC that we all should be ‘ nice’ (should we not show compassion to everyone?) does not serve much purpose and can easily be taken out of context.

            A fimer line and less whissy-whassy statements is needed by the Church here, hence we have priests such as Father McGuire justifying his out of line comments.

            Not to mention that those that clamour over this paragrapgh are hypocritical. I don’t see much ‘compassion and respect or sensitivity’ for priests in the sexual abuse scandal – in fact you guys want the firmest line of action by the Church??

            So why not the same attitude for others that offend God?

            • catherine says:

              Priests molesting children are hardly comparable to 2 adults engaging in consensual sex.

            • Gareth says:

              That’s rubbish Catherine – they are both abominable in God’s eyes.

              If you want to be consistent in condemning one action and taking a zero tolreance approach, you have be consistent.

            • catherine says:

              Gareth if you cannot see a difference between consensual sex between two adults and an adult taking advantage of a child( and inflicting grievious harm of the child’s psychological well being), there is nothing more that can be said.

            • catherine says:

              Gareth ” what a load of crap” is hardly a convincing argument for your case. What about a reasoned rebuttal of the facts that have been placed before you?

            • Gareth says:

              Both mortal sins Catherine.

            • Schütz says:

              Gareth and Christine,

              Both homosexual acts and any non-consensual sexual act is viewed as grave matter by the Church, and if done with full intent and full knowledge constitutes a mortal sin.

              At the same time, Gareth, the Church would concede that the gravity of a disordered sexual act is increased if it is with a minor and/or non-consensual.

              As an rather trite example, masturbation is also a gravely disordered act which, if done with full intention and full knowledge, would be a mortal sin. But I think just about any confessor would see it as a much lesser problem than a sexual act committed against a minor.

          • Schütz says:

            Gareth, I think the Catechism is clear enough. Hate the sin, love the sinner. That’s always been the rule.

            • Gareth says:

              Disagree David.

              The section on the Catechism on the pastoral approach to homosexuals can lead to people such as Father McGuire manipulating it to the point that it means sin can not be discriminated against.

              When Father McGuire makes such statements it gives the distinct impression that the Church has nothing to say about the inclination to homosexual behavior being objectively disordered, that the living out of this inclination to homosexual behavior is not an acceptable option, and that the behavior itself is ordered to an intrinsic moral evil.

              If the Church truly welcomes the sinner, but hates the sin – shouldn’t it encourage individual that is not ok to be inclined to what is termed an objective disorder.

              To hate the sin truly means to do everything in one’s power to get the sinner to see that the direction in which they are heading leads to nowhere, not to sit back and tolerate it.

              Catholics are entitled to authentic catechesis that states there is no conceivable right to behavior that is intrinsically ordered to a moral evil.

              Fluffy statements that we should all treat everyone nicely and with respect are useless unless accompanied by the truth that behavior intrinsically ordered to a moral evil, i.e., behavior is a grave sin, and the inclination to the behavior is an objective disorder because it can never lead to a morally licit act.

              A true catechism would teach that the inclination to sinful behavior remains an occasion of sin that must be overcome, avoided at all costs; otherwise it becomes fertile ground for sins.

              I am missing this with the modern-day CCC.

            • Stephen K says:

              David, a nice rule, but see my follow-on post to Catherine’s. I’m yet to be convinced on that score.

            • Stephen K says:

              ……….there is no conceivable right to behavior that is intrinsically ordered to a moral evil [Gareth]

              I don’t mean to be semantically cute, but my own view is that free will – if it exists – gives a right to any behaviour, evil or not. Only a fearful deontology thinks free will is a conditional faculty – which would mean it is not “free” at all.

              If God gave us free will – with strings attached in the sense I think you mean, Gareth – then God was no more than a kind of “indian-giver”.

              If you only mean that you assert that there may or will be consequences to any action, I think that’s more supportable, but it’s a different thing (or so it appears so far to me).

        • catherine says:

          http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_caus9.htm
          Please see point 10 of the above article re hormone levels in utero.
          I do not believe the Catholic Church is homophobic but certainly many individual catholics are. I am aware of ” good Catholics” who: threw their children out of the house when they came out of the closet, wrote them out of the will etc etc.

          • catherine says:

            http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_caus4.htm

            More information on the evidence for genetic and hormonal contributions to homosexuality

            • jules says:

              I have come to learn that that site is not fully trust worthy. No scientist has proven the existence of a gay gene or hormone abnormality. If that were the case why isn’t there hormone therapy for such or gene testing?

              Remember the catholic church teaches what has been given by divine revelation and by the evidence of reason . Homosexual acts will always be immoral. Let’s not confuse people by being PC or ashamed of our true Christian beliefs.
              Check this out : http://silencingchristians.com/

          • Stephen K says:

            Catherine, in an earlier post Jules objected, somewhat correctly I think, to the use of the word “homophobia” to describe some of the attitudes towards homosexuality, arguing that disagreement did not equate to “fear”. I think there’s some force to that. My Greek is not so sufficient that I can come up with the right root without a lexicon, but I would better characterise the attitude to homosexuals as something conveying “disgust” or “hatred” or at least “dislike”. Absent my lexicon, if I were to coin a barbarous Greco-Latinism to fit the bill, it might have to be something like “homo-odium”.
            So Jules’ and Gareth’s protests do not, in my view, take them very far. This is because I think that although David’s “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is a nice distinction, in practice I don’t think that it is psychologically easy if at all possible for someone who condemns a behavior not to also feel negative towards the person as well. In anticipation of any objection, let me say that it might, theoretically, make sense that it would be possible, but my observations are that in practice few, if any, achieve the balancing act. (Maybe some holy people do).

            Anyway, it might be debateable whether two people of the same sex who wish to commit themselves in lifelong sexually affective partnership – or a priest or “neighbour” who wished them every success – could be said to sin more grievously than the battalions of people who, purely on the basis of their own affective and intellectual convictions, essentially assumed the divine role of moral judgment.

            Just some thoughts. In general, I’m with you.

            • Gareth says:

              Stephen K: I don’t think that it is psychologically easy if at all possible for someone who condemns a behavior not to also feel negative towards the person as well.

              Gareth: I don’t necessarily agree Stephen. I know personally that their are people in active homosexual relationships in my own workplace, but I do not necessarily treat them any different and at the same time, this does not defer me from holding to my own personal views on the evil behaviour.

              What concerns me more is people that say ‘love the sinner’ and this has a lessening impact on their viewpoints of the actual sin.

              That is why I think the modern Catechism fails in some regards. People are naturally inclined to be ‘nice’ and ‘friendly’ and for some the love the sinner part starts to take precedence over their viewpoints on the other part of the equation.

              And we don’t need any other better example to prove my point than Fr Maguire’s out of line comments.

            • catherine says:

              Well I would argue that homophobia- fear of homosexuals, leads to people expressing hatred or disgust. E.g. When you back a dog into a corner he is scared, so he attacks. Women, generally, don’t worry about someone being gay. However, men are more likely to call homsexuals derogatory names and physically assault them. I would argue some men are very insecure in their own masculinitysexual identity so they have to make other people’s live a misery to prove they are 100% male.

  2. Dan says:

    Genesis 2:24
    “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”
    (One body: literally “one flesh”; classical Hebrew has no specific word for “body.” The sacred writer stresses the fact that conjugal union is willed by God. )

    Mark 10:5-8
    “But Jesus told them…from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

    Jesus makes it very clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. That’s it. There is no nice way of stating truth, one simply says it. The implication in Jesus’ words of course, is that if only one man and one woman is God’s design for human marriage, then only one man and one woman can have sex, not two men (or more) or women or any other combination. So Jesus would not approve of all this rot going on.

    I can’t understand why someone can’t just say that!

    • Gareth says:

      St Paul said it a bit more explictly – no (unrepetant) fornicator will enter the kingdom of God

      • Dan says:

        True, but it’s Jesus’ words that carry more weight with people who like to say “But Jesus never aid anything about it!”

        • Gareth says:

          That arguement is flawed.

          The Lord didn’t say much about a lot of things.

          He always condemned sexual immortality and even went further than St Paul, saying even if we look upon other’s lustfully, we commit sin in our hearts.

          That is pretty hardcore – I wouldn’t argue that Our Lord was a softie on immoral behaviour.

          • Dan says:

            lol you and I know that, but they don’t!

          • adam george says:

            What exactly did Jesus say in the Gospels about the immorality of homosexuality? He said nothing about abortion which is murder of the innocents. What does this tell us about Scripture which is quoted so often and hurled at us on so many religious TV shows out of America? He didn’t speak about human rights, nuclear proliferation or chemical weapons or torture by ruthless dictatorships or the morality of CIA rendition.
            So where do we get the true and apostolic teaching from on these key moral issues?
            The Church?

  3. Gareth says:

    Surprise, surprise – Fr Bob Has just entered into his Twitter page that the Herald Sun misquoted him:

    Fr Bob – “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.”

    • Schütz says:

      Yes, I picked that up from Cathnews – I would like to see this retraction published.

      If I have been unfair to Fr Bob, I truly apologise. But it does remind us to take care that we never treat the secular press as “friendly territory”.

      • Tony says:

        So you’re not going to give him the benefit of the doubt, David, an withdraw your letter? Is the absence of a public retraction proof-positive that he wasn’t misrepresented?

        I am amazed. Hardly a week goes by here when we don’t hear about how awful the press is at misrepresenting people especially — well, pretty much exclusively — those who are considered ‘_______’ (place your own favourite term here, eg, ‘orthodox’, ‘faithful to the Magisterium’, etc.).

        Fr Bob is not one of ‘them’ so it’s assumed the paper is accurate and despite referance to a possible misunderstanding, misquote or retraction, the Catechism ‘lecture’ remains.

        Smacks of hypocrisy, David.

        • Gareth says:

          His comments were still out of line Tony and he should have known better to even make such a comment to begin with.

        • Schütz says:

          After reading his “tweet”, I re-read my letter and believe that it still stands. Fr Bob has a duty to clearly and publically teach the Catholic faith, not his own version of it.

          Today’s Herald Sun says that “Fr Maguire stressed he would not conduct a gay church wedding and did not have a personal view on the issue” but that isn’t the issue. The only kind of wedding that as a priest he CAN conduct is a “church wedding”, and he needs to stress that “church weddings” can only be conducted between a man and a woman who are not already married.

          • Tony says:

            Given he’s a priest in your dio, David, have you contacted him to get his side of the story?

            • Gareth says:

              what side of the story do you need – he said he has no issue with grevious sinful actions and would be happy to witness two practising sodomites in a civil marriage and the media misinterpreted this to mean he would mean inside a Church and cut out the controvesial bits where he said he felt the Church should be proactive about other issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

              Not sure what else needs to be explained…

            • Tony says:

              Where has he actually said, ‘he said he has no issue with grevious sinful actions’, Gareth. Please show us.

            • Schütz says:

              Yes, I have, Tony. I sent a copy of the letter to him at the email address I had for him in the Catholic Directory. When I was alerted to the “tweet” I wrote again to say that I meant no offence by the open letter, and I hoped that he would be able to make his position clear.

              I have not received any reply.

            • Tony says:

              I commend you for that, David, but I wonder why you didn’t mention it in your original post?

              I also wonder if you sent your email before publishing or after?

    • adam george says:

      Yes he has retracted the ‘gay marriages’ matter.
      But has he still agreed to do ‘civil union’ ceremonies for which he has been quoted in The Age as saying he will be happy to perform?
      How can any Catholic priest perform a civil union ceremony whether it be legally correct for gays, man and women or whatever?
      Isn’t it also time for the Archbishop to speak out on this matter and make it very clear that Catholic priests just DO NOT DO civil union ceremonies and of course, most obviously, gay ‘marriages’.
      I would have thought that now is indeed the time for Fr Bob to seriously bring forward his retirement which is long overdue from the parish in which he has been for what seems like decades. Bob, just move on and let younger more alert, aware and responsible priests take over. Head off to the desert and take time out in a spiritual oasis.
      You have become the message now and that is a real worry.

  4. Interested in your thoughts, David, on the theological/doctrinal angle here. “The Catholic Church makes a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts”; how does that distinction relate to the belief that concupiscence is not sin, but only the “tinder” for the flame of sin? It would seem to me to be a particular application of that teaching. To be consistent then, should not the CC also distinguish between the idolater’s orientation and acts of idolatry, the adulterer’s orientation and acts of adultery, the orientation to be a coveter and acts of theft, etc? Quite serious about this; it’s always seemed such a glaring inconsistency to me. Is there something I’ve missed? Sorry to take things off topic – reply off-list if you like.

    • Schütz says:

      No, I don’t think this is taking the subject “off topic”. As Stephen K. points out below, this could be extended to all kinds of pastoral situations.

      The JDDJ says:

      30.Catholics hold that the grace of Jesus Christ imparted in baptism takes away all that is sin “in the proper sense” and that is “worthy of damnation” (Rom 8:1). There does, however, remain in the person an inclination (concupiscence) which comes from sin and presses toward sin. Since, according to Catholic conviction, human sins always involve a personal element and since this element is lacking in this inclination, Catholics do not see this inclination as sin in an authentic sense. They do not thereby deny that this inclination does not correspond to God’s original design for humanity and that it is objectively in contradiction to God and remains one’s enemy in lifelong struggle. Grateful for deliverance by Christ, they underscore that this inclination in contradiction to God does not merit the punishment of eternal death and does not separate the justified person from God.

      A good study of this is Chris Burgwald’s “The Sinfulness of the Justified” (if I haven’t sent it to you before, just email me for a copy).

      In essence then, other sinful acts, such as idolatory, do need to be distinguished from the orientation to idolatory. That in fact is an “orientation” that affects all human beings, even baptised and justified Christians in so far as concupiscence remains in them. A more specific case might be the kleptomaniac who has an orientation toward stealing or the alcoholic who has an orientation toward getting drunk. Neither orientation in themselves is a “sin in the proper sense”, though the orientation itself is disordered.

      So yes, pastorally speaking, the distinction is useful. The use of this distinction in the case of homosexuality is but a concrete application of the general rule, which applies to all of us.

  5. jules says:

    Pr Mark Henderson ,
    I found this from the archives of Fr Hardon. It might help with your query.

    The Church distinguishes between homosexuality as a tendency, as an attraction, and as an activity.
    homosexual tendency[orientation]:

    Homosexual tendency in any person is within the normal range of human nature. Our fallen condition includes every kind of impulse, whether morally good or morally bad. We may therefore have a sexual inclination towards persons of the same or opposite gender to our own. Our inclination towards persons of another gender is called heterosexual; our inclination towards persons of the same gender is called homosexual. With sincere efforts and divine grace the homosexual impulse can be controlled.

    homosexual attraction:
    Homosexual attraction is for members of the same sex. This may be partly due to the peculiar make up of certain individuals. More often, however, it is the result of indiscretion or seduction and presents a greater problem. But, once again, this too is not by itself sinful. In fact, it may be an occasion for great supernatural merit. When the condition is pathological, it requires therapy, but always consistent with the basic principles of Christian morality.
    homosexual activity:

    Homosexual activity is sexual relations between two or more persons of the same gender. It is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church, based on divine revelation and Christian tradition, that homosexual activity is morally indefensible. The reasons for this are founded on the revealed truth that sexual experience is divinely reserved to husband and wife in their marital relations. Moreover, homosexual activity is destructive of the very foundations of human society.
    From http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Chastity/Chastity_014.htm

  6. marcel says:

    Luckily when that troublesome man turns 75 the Archbishop will speedily force Fr McGuire’s retirement for the good of souls and the Church. Thank goodness the Archbishop will put a stop to this priest’s scandalous and completely vain media routine. 75, the magic number.

    Oh wait….

    • catherine says:

      Father Bob is not my cup of tea, but I know some people think he’s wonderful. Everyone makes mistakes, be they Father Bob or Archbishop Hart. Anyone who reads the newspapers will remember that Archbishop Hart lost patience with a woman (who I believe had had some psychological problems and a sexual involvement with a priest)who was making a racket outside his house in the middle of the night and yelled something along the lines of ” Go to hell bitch”. Frankly, it was not one of his finer moments and as a representative of Christ one would expect him to speak more charitably.

      • Schütz says:

        What you say is important, and that is why we must deal with everyone (including ourselves) with charity. I stressed at the bottom of my letter that I meant my comments IN CHARITY, and I reiterate that now. All of us, from the Pope down to little old me, act in ways sometimes that we regret and repent of. Forgiveness is the order of the day here, not whitewashing the failure to act justly or charitably.

        • adam george says:

          Yes even Papa Benedict. There is a video of the pope when he was cardinal Ratzinger coming out of his then-apartment in Rome and an interviewer came up to him asking about sex abuse by priests. The then-cardinal actually shoved the reporter with his arm!!! Not an act of a pope for sure. So even a pope makes mistakes. Not nice to see but a fact.

          • jules says:

            You don’t know for sure if that reporter had not crossed any boundaries. The Cardinal would not have been so annoyed for no reason! He is human after all.

        • Tony says:

          In your moments of humility David, is it possible for you to consider that statements like

          … Not to put too fine a point on it, you are confirming them in sin …
          … Please give deep consideration to the damage you are doing to individual consciences by your words in this matter …

          To a priest who has served the church at the proverbial coal face since before you were in short pants doesn’t come across, notwithstanding the reference to charity, as anything like humble?

          • jules says:

            Look Tony , no here is showing disrespect towards the Fr Bob, but his off the cuff remarks on the media are legendary and he really needs to be careful about the messages he puts out there.

  7. Stephen K says:

    Pastor Mark’s questions and Jules’ reply prompted some thoughts of my own.

    The distinction between concupiscence and acts seems to be to be abundantly clear but I don’t think that is the problem with the RCC’s approach to the question.

    The problem or the issue appears to be the singling out of the homosexual situation, as opposed to every other. The consequence is that not only do its critics sometimes accuse it of rigid extremity, but also inconsistency.

    If, as Jules points out, all sexual impulses, tendencies, orientations etc are merely the inescapable varieties of the fallen human nature, then the RCC would do much better – to really and substantially avoid the accusation of particular oppression of homosexuals (i.e. discrimination) – if it excised its separate canons and articles dealing with homosexuals and homosexuality from its laws and catechism and simply reverted to a single moral target.

    What I’m suggesting is something I’m sure some orthodox would agree with. It would certainly reflect more straightforwardly – and honestly – the unadulterated moral teaching that the first non-sinful sexual moment in any one’s life should be the moment shared on a wedding night.

    It could simply make clear that it taught that ALL OTHER sexual acts, whether climactic or not (i.e. including simple genital contact as well as penetrative), acts designed to lead to aforesaid sexual acts (i.e. kissing, hand-holding, caressing) or any other act that could be said to be an inducement to either of the former two categories (propositioning, certain gift-giving, etc) were all grievously sinful, and make no mention of sexuality at all, making no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual categories.

    Of course I think people would largely reject such an application of the Church’s moral sexual teaching on the ground of common sense. But the way Jules has put it, and the way the core thrust of RCC teaching is often defended, it would be both more honest, and fairer – everyone would be under the hammer, so to speak – and homosexuals would not be able to complain that the Church was picking on them.

    Of course, it would still have to argue and justify its condemnation of same-sex marriage. So maybe this approach would not solve every problem, but it might eliminate some of the fancy footwork.

    • catherine says:

      Gees Stephen, no kissing and no hand holding allowed!!! :( Talk about ” No sex please, we’re catholic!” LOL.

      • Stephen K says:

        You bet! (what a riot.) Cheers, Catherine.

      • Schütz says:

        But if I understand him properly, Stephen is right: any level of sexual action which is intended to be “an inducement” to sexual intimacy outside marriage are “all grievously sinful”. The preoccupation with homosexual acts is not the Church’s preoccupation. The Church is concerned with the purity and right ordering of all sexual relationships.

  8. Susan Peterson says:

    Stephen K-

    I think that IS the teaching. Any act by unmarried people which arouses or is intended to arouse sexual desire is wrong. Affectionate hand holding and a quick peck of a kiss would be acceptable, but extended passionate kissing would not be. Caressing such as stroking someone’s arm might be, but certainly no touching of breasts or genital contact. I don’t think that last should even need to be said.

    I am not sure what you mean by “certain types of gift giving.” Certainly a man can give gifts to a woman he is courting with the idea of marriage. “Propositioning?” Doesn’t that mean inviting someone to have sex with you? That would clearly be wrong.

    And of course there is a difference with homosexuality, as in that case anything like courting or trying to arouse an affective attachment of a romantic kind would also be wrong, since there is no possibility of marriage. And no, this doesn’t mean that two men or two women can’t be close friends with a great deal of affection. In fact, when sex is utterly out of the question in such relationships it makes it a lot easier for there to be affection without misunderstanding.

    Susan Peterson

  9. Stephen K says:

    ………I do not necessarily treat them any different and at the same time, this does not defer me from holding to my own personal views on the evil behaviour [Gareth].

    I’m afraid this post appears out of sequence because there was no reply link at the appropriate point. I would just like to respond by saying, without attributing any fault or failure on your part, Gareth, that treating people differently is different from what I said, which was that I thought it difficult or impossible not to “feel” negatively towards people whose behaviour we disapproved of. And “feeling” is a necessary ingredient, I believe, in love.

    This raises a few interesting and important ideas: is the “love” implied by the saying the same kind of thing we normally mean when we say we love them, that is an attraction and liking as well as care for them, or merely a kind of theological “care” for their soul? Is outward treatment sufficient, or must love – in the Gospel sense – also require the affective component? Is a positive affective component necessary for love in the sense of the saying, or of real love period? Does the Gospel only require unaggressive treatment or does it require us to love people as they are as well as what they could be (which is not up to to us to stipulate)? And how possible, psychologically, is it for either you or me to “treat” people “no differently” if we are at the same time calling their actions evil or calling them “sinners”?

    I know we each disagree about the height of our horses, so let me make clear that here, I regard you and me as on the same level ground – we are either both sinners or both imperfect and odious comparisons have no place. I don’t accuse you of anything. I make no claim that I don’t feel negatively towards a whole bunch of people and freely avow I do not meet what I think is the standard of Christian love.

    But the reality of what we are talking about is not to be found primarily in a book – it is our affective experience that is the reality of theological love. What is it we think, and feel, privately? What are our immediate, instinctive reactions? What body language do we convey, in the tone change or twinkling of an eye? (The exact same things that operate – in the opposite direction – when you fall suddenly and hopelessly in love!!!!!!) Is our attitude to the person affected to any degree by our attitude to their choices?

    Forget the lecture book on sin for just 60 seconds. Do we love homosexuals – or any other persons the subject of our disapproval – enough to embrace them, make them feel welcome in our home, etc etc?

    I suggest that if we look closely at what we all really do, the “hate the sin, love the sinner” is problematic from several angles.

    • catherine says:

      Well said

      • jules says:

        True Love lives in unity with God. God hates sin.
        Leviticus 18:22
        “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. “

        • Tony says:

          Tsk, tsk. Are you cherry picking Leviticus again, Jules?

          • Gareth says:

            Here we go again, people that can’t handle what the Bible has to say playing games.

            • Tony says:

              Laura Schlesinger is a US radio personality, who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. She recently said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstances. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura which was posted on the Internet.

              Dear Dr. Laura:

              Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

              I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

              1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to New Zealanders, but not Tasmanians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Tasmanians?

              2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

              For more game playing for bible literalists read http://www.ariel.com.au/jokes/Dr_Laura_and_Leviticus.html

              [OK, I ‘adapted’ the bit about Tasmanians and New Zealanders. Clearly Leviticus would make no such distinction.]

            • jules says:

              That’s right Garth. Not only ignoring the totality of scripture on sexual moral issues they confuse these issues with social and cultural ones, as Tony has done below. He rejects all that scripture says about the condemnation of homosexual acts! It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexual acts as immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

              Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

            • catherine says:

              Jules, I do not believe you have addressed Tony’S point that if we followed everything is written in the Bible we would be saying slavery is ok.
              Now how is that that the Catholic Church says slavery is wrong when the Bible says slavery is oK? Just seems logical that if one can ignore what the Bible says about slavery ( as the Church seems to, and thank God it does), then it seems the prohibition against homsexual activity may change too.

            • Tony says:

              Careful Catherine, ‘True Catholics’ don’t ask questions like that!

            • catherine says:

              Well, I believe Cardinal Pell told everybody to test everything or was it question everything, so I am just following orders

          • jules says:

            Side stepping what Catholics are asked to assent to Tony? Oh dear! Some never learn.

            • Tony says:

              Asked Jules?

              Catherine asks a perfectly legitimate question. Are you ‘sidestepping’ that?

              If you go down the road of arguing from a scriptural point of view, then expect questions.

              If your position is that ‘this is what the church asks’ then no scriptural defence is needed.

          • jules says:

            You think the church just throws together a doctrine, developed over centuries, and has never been asked your type of questions? How strange that you ignore thousands of response given by the Church Fathers and even the saints of resent times. You waste your time arguing over issues that have been answered. Arrogance is not what we need here on the teaching on homosexual sex, but humility in accepting what God has willed in true marriage and what the church teaches regarding God’s will on human sexuality. No one is forcing you to assent to the doctrines, there are plenty of churches who dissent on this issue from the true Christian teachings. Arrogance, Tony, is what I have seen you use as a favoured vehicle to discredit the RCC’s stance on this issue.

            • Gareth says:

              The Bible is clear on the matter Tony, please stop wasting people’s time claiming otherwise.

            • jules says:

              LOL, it’s what he does best! But the real funny part is people like our friend keep chasing the wind -there is nothing gained from them . The problem with deconstructionists and cherry pickers is -if once they have what they want, they will realise it’s no longer ‘solid food’ from heaven. Eating as the prodigal son did with the pigs- how poor they will be without being in their Father’s presence.

            • Tony says:

              You think the church just throws together a doctrine, developed over centuries, and has never been asked your type of questions?

              No.

              How strange that you ignore thousands of response given by the Church Fathers and even the saints of resent times.

              No, I don’t. I consider them carefully. Still do, especially when they are presented in a reasonable manner without the hyperbole, name calling and threats of hell.

              You waste your time arguing over issues that have been answered.

              I don’t consider it a waste of time. If you do, you have control over how you spend your time.

              Arrogance is not what we need here on the teaching on homosexual sex, but humility in accepting what God has willed in true marriage and what the church teaches regarding God’s will on human sexuality.

              Disagreement and questioning are not necessarily signs of arrogance.

              No one is forcing you to assent to the doctrines, there are plenty of churches who dissent on this issue from the true Christian teachings.

              I wondered when you’d get this chestnut out. I’m suprised it didn’t appear earlier. Try this:

              No one is forcing you to belong to a church where doctrines can be questioned, there are plenty of churches who don’t allow dissent on this issue and many other issues.

              Arrogance, Tony, is what I have seen you use as a favoured vehicle to discredit the RCC’s stance on this issue.

              I humbly disagree, dearest Jules!

              Now, don’t ‘waste’ any more time, OK?

            • Gareth says:

              Tony: Disagreement and questioning are not necessarily signs of arrogance.

              Gareth: All jokes aside, i disagree Tony.

              If someone shows you that one plue one equals two or dare I say it an circle shape does not fit into square shape and you still think otherwise, it is what I deem as arrogant to not at least acknowledge it.

            • Tony says:

              If someone shows you that one plue one equals two or dare I say it an circle shape does not fit into square shape and you still think otherwise, it is what I deem as arrogant to not at least acknowledge it.

              Interesting.

              On the first point: We assert that, as a matter of faith, that 3=1.

              On the second point: http://www.illustrationinfo.com/tutorial_images/halfcircle3.jpg

              So, in all humility, you have to be a little careful about the examples you choose.

    • Gareth says:

      The more I think about it Stephen, the more I agree with your last line there because in the case of those who may be in a homosexual relationship (let’s say that they have no issue with it as opposed to those that put their hands up and admit homosexual acts are not in accordane with God’s plan), to be accepting of them to a certain level would inevitably mean in some sense I also accept or tolerate their relationship status and therefore homsoexual behaviour.

      To actively ‘embrace’ the sinner in this case would inevitably mean actively embracing the sin as well.

      I take your point then at some stage the boundaries between the sinner and sin become deeply blurred.

      For the record then, if I met with a person that I knew was an active homosexual by chance at at a social outing or in my workforce, I wouldn’t see it as my place to pass comment and wouldn’t treat them any different, but I would draw a line somewhere on developing a close relationship or as you say, making them feel welcome in my house.

      And it is not just about targetting homosexuals as well, for the record my own sibling (who incidently doesn’t have a religious bone in their body) is currently ‘shacked-up’ and they know pretty well where I stand on the matter and how this would affect my relationship with them. At least, in this way I am consistent.

      • catherine says:

        So Gareth does being unfriendly to someone who is gay or shacked up serve any useful purpose? I really do not believe it achieves any useful purpose. Have you not heard you catch more flies with honey?

        One of my brothers is very friendly with a gay couple ( both lapsed catholics). They have attended many of his family events including the baptisms of his children. They know he upholds the teachings of the Catholic ChurchWhen one of the gay men’s father was dying he rang my brother and asked him if he would organise a priest as he knew my brother would assist in such a task. If you want people to change their ways, I would argue being friendly and keeping the door open to them is more likely to get a positive result.

        • Gareth says:

          Catherine: So Gareth does being unfriendly to someone who is gay or shacked up serve any useful purpose?

          Gareth: Depends what you deem ‘unfriendly’. In the case of my own sibling, it is not unfriendly for me to actively convey to them that am uncomfortable with it, personally find it in opposition to my personal moral beliefs and at best wish they would consider marriage.

          Likewise, it wouldn’t serve any purpose if I pretended that I approved this act – that would be a sin of omission on my behalf.

          Why do you think the sinful act of living together before marriage has gained such an acceptance in our society – because people are too pissweak to speak out against it?

          • catherine says:

            Well Gareth, how many times do u tell your sister she is doing the wrong thing? I would think once or twice is enough. I assume if she had the same upbringing as you, she knows the teaching of the Catholic church but doesn’t buy it.

            Given that so manypeople live together these days she probably thinks what she is doing is ok and u harping on at her will only damage our relationship with her

            • Gareth says:

              but the fact is if I have any sense of God or moral good, I am obliged to tell them that it is the wrong thing to begin with, instead of pretending it is cool.

              Do you see St Paul walking around in the Bible saying ‘oh, well not much we can do about that or that is just the way everyone acts….

              Quite on the contrary…

            • catherine says:

              Well., from what you have said, whatever you are doing or saying is not working, so that suggests you should change tack

            • Gareth says:

              How do you know it is not working?

              How do you know that poof at my work who I give the cold shoulder every morning and refuse his facebook request doesn’t go home and pray to God to change his sinful ways??

              God works in mysterious ways, Catherine.

          • catherine says:

            Just had a thought… I believe the vast majority of men, if not all, have masturbated at some point in time, and that is considered a grave sin, even a mortal sin. How many heterosexual men have engaged in heavy petting if not intercourse, prior to marriage?

            So although homosexuality is deemed a mortal sin so is masturbation and premarital sexual activity . So I don’t see why people get on their high horse about associating with gays when they have, or are most likely in engaging in mortal sin themselves.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: Just had a thought… I believe the vast majority of men, if not all, have masturbated at some point in time, and that is considered a grave sin, even a mortal sin.

              Gareth: Geez you have some weird thoughts. I suppose you will lead us to believe that women are totally exempt from this, when they are probably as guilty as any male.

              Catherine: How many heterosexual men have engaged in heavy petting if not intercourse, prior to marriage?

              Gareth: Believe it or not, some men have better things to do with their time.

              Catherine: So I don’t see why people get on their high horse about associating with gays when they have, or are most likely in engaging in mortal sin themselves.

              Gareth: Quite easy, because most people don’t play games and would try to do something productive about what you talk about such as going to confession regularly, keeping up with a decent prayer life and engaging in regular community and sporting activities, but the average queer wants to play games and try to convince us all that in some way homosexual acts are normal or natural when they or not or convince poor priests like Father Bob who be better off in a nursing home to marry them.

            • catherine says:

              Noone has said women are immune from sinning, only commenting on male behaviour, as judging by the posts on this topic, only men seem to be worried about being censorious of homosexuals.

              If gays have not been raised catholic they are hardly going to be guilt ridden and running off to confession. Let’s compare apples with apples. If you seriously believe most straight catholic men are rushing off to confession to confess they are masturbating, I find that quite amazing as everyone knows attendance at confession is abysmally low.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: only men seem to be worried about being censorious of homosexuals.

              Gareth: Women are not known as the weaker sex for nothing.

        • jules says:

          Slavery was customary in ancient times. The Church initially accepted slavery as a social institution . Slavery was not a mortal sin, yet homosexual acts were and are .What God himself condones in the scriptures or condemns can not be changed. God hates sin. Those who reject the church’s teachings and live in unrepentant mortal sin will go to hell. For only the catholic church offers the fullness of truth and through her – salvation. How sad that some people don’t love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth about unrepentant sin. Their punishment will be just as harsh according to Luke 17:1-2. That is quite serious, , if they love God no one should brush that off .

          • catherine says:

            Jules, I cannot see how masturbation ( a “”victimeless crime”” is a mortal sin, or two consenting same sex adults having sex i s a mortal sin yet slavery is condoned. Just does not make sense.

            • jules says:

              Read the teachings Tony- it’s all on the net! If you don’t think it makes sense then I find what really doesn’t make sense to you- like the protestant church that have a gay bishop as their leader- A smart guy like you calls himself catholic but sees no sense in what we are asked to assent to, yet stays to water scripture down and cherry pick etc.. etc..; now that doesn’t make sense at all.

            • jules says:

              That should say Catherine, but Tony is in same boat! lol.

            • Tony says:

              Happy to be in your boat, Catherine.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine floats Tony’s boat – isn’t that sweet.

            • Tony says:

              Nothing this tooth fairy can’t handle, Gareth. After dinner mints anyone?

          • Tony says:

            Clearly a reading of scripture would lead you to believe that if the church did not condone slavery, it at least didn’t condemn it.

            Over time the church has effectively gone against that and now, rightfully, condemns slavery.

            It is a clear example that the church itself does not read the bible literally and can change.

            So, again, if your argument about homosexuality is built on a scriptural foundation then it is reasonable to point out that the church does not read scripture literaly.

            If your argument is that ‘the church says so and you’ll go to hell if you ignore the church’ then the scriptural argument is irrelevant.

            An argument that has, as its core, a resort to authority and fear of hell used to work a treat a generation or two ago, Jules, and it may be more than enough for you, but in these terrible times folks are just not falling for it.

            Authority, must be built on reasonable grounds. It it reasonable to observe that the church — that is all of us — no longer (if it ever did) interprets scripture in a literal way. Slavery is just one example.

            Some people are of the view that the church’s traditional attititude to homosexuality is founded on a flawed understanding of human sexuality. That view may in fact be wrong, but no amount of selective scriptural quoting or veiled threats of hell provides a reasonable counter argument to that.

            • jules says:

              There is no ‘flawed understanding of human sexuality’ , Which scripture passage has not come from divine revelation and from the mouth of God? Which church Father or pope to this day doesn’t get human sexuality.? Nature and revelation have spoken to all of humanity on this issue. Homosexual acts are unnatural and disordered, a sin against the body and against God. So our job is to not tell lies. Love enough to keep the truth. And not be ‘TRUTHAPHOBIC’

            • Tony says:

              That’s right Jules. Don’t waste your time pretending that there’s a scriptural logic to it.

              Stick to the appeal to authority and the name-calling.

            • Gareth says:

              If you want to argue that homosexual acts are not a grevious sins against God as found in multiple Biblical passages, the onus is on you to show us otherwise.

              Good luck finding even the remotest Biblical or Church traditional tolerance of it.

            • Tony says:

              Similarly Gareth, if you want to argue that slavery is not endorsed in multiple Biblical passages, the onus is on you to show us otherwise.

              Some examples for your edification:
              Leviticus 25:44-46
              Exodus 21:2-6
              Exodus 21:7-11
              Exodus 21:20-21
              Ephesians 6:5
              1 Timothy 6:1-2

              On your logic (and Jules) ‘True Catholics’ should never condemn slavery. After all, it’s biblical!

            • Schütz says:

              I think there is a simple solution to this. If it remains at the level of quoting biblical texts, you won’t understand why the Church continues to uphold the teachings against homosexual activity and at the same time condemns slavery.

              But the two positions are perfectly understandable on the basis of the Church’s doctrine nature and dignity of the human being. The inherant human nature (certainly derived from biblical teachings such as: “male and female he made them”; “he made them in his own image”) leads the Church on the one hand to condemn slavery (despite the fact that biblical texts can be adduced which seem to allow – rather than support – it) and on the other hand uphold the ancient scriptural injunctions against homosexual behaviour.

            • Gareth says:

              Avoiding the topic or playing games Tony?

              God’s word is firmly opposed to homosexual practises, it is disrespectful to waste other people’s times and even imply otherwise.

            • Gareth says:

              P.S Tony – The Church is opposed to an UNJUST form of slavery, which over the centuries we have come to a different understanding of just what ‘just’ is.

              The Church if following the Bible can only oppose the injust aspects of slavery, not the basic concept.

              The Bible does not oppose slavery per se, infact St Paul even tells slaves to be obedient to their masters (and masters are told to treat their slaves well)!!

              The same can not be said about homosexual pratices – they can never be seen as just or in any way something that ever God pleases or tolerates.

            • Tony says:

              Avoiding the topic or playing games Tony?

              I’m staying right on topic, Gareth.

              God’s word is firmly opposed to homosexual practises, it is disrespectful to waste other people’s times and even imply otherwise.

              If this is a waste of time by your reckoning, you disrespect yourself by continuing. If you continue, then it mustn’t be a waste of time for you.

              Which is it, Gareth?

            • Tony says:

              P.S Tony – The Church is opposed to an UNJUST form of slavery, which over the centuries we have come to a different understanding of just what ‘just’ is …

              Goodness, what a waste of time coming up with that nonsense! Mind you, people who are scriptural literalists get themselves into dreadful pickles.

              I could invite you to waste more time and tell us what a JUST form of slavery might look like (from a scriptural point of view of course!), but assuming we could get past that, there are all sorts of other things in the bible, some much worse than slavery, that could exercise your imagination.

            • Gareth says:

              I am not sure if it could be considered that the Church has a blanket ban against slavery David.

              I would have thought it would rather take the line that it is opposed to unjust slavery, (which pretty much covers all forms of slavery in the modern age just to save base).

              I think it is important to draw this line as the Catholic Church may be opening itself up to being unBiblical by certain Protestant Church’s by claiming claiming a blanket ban.

              I am also pretty sure magisterial teaching has never argued against ‘just’ slavery.

              Whatever, it may amaze people that slavery is still practiced is some remote parts of the world and surely ‘prisoners of war’ would fit the class.

            • Tony says:

              I think there is a simple solution to this. If it remains at the level of quoting biblical texts, you won’t understand why the Church continues to uphold the teachings against homosexual activity and at the same time condemns slavery.

              Not so simple for Gareth, David. We now have the rather novel notion of UNJUST slavery.

              But the two positions are perfectly understandable on the basis of the Church’s doctrine nature and dignity of the human being. The inherant human nature (certainly derived from biblical teachings such as: “male and female he made them”; “he made them in his own image”) leads the Church on the one hand to condemn slavery (despite the fact that biblical texts can be adduced which seem to allow – rather than support – it) and on the other hand uphold the ancient scriptural injunctions against homosexual behaviour.

              And therein lies the rub. The church has a view about the term ‘inherant human nature’. I would contend that modern science challenges that view on many levels.

            • Gareth says:

              I hate to break this to Tony – no pope or council has ever made a sweeping condemnation of slavery as such.

              You would probably find some Pope’s even had slaves themselves had some stage?

              I would even put good money on some doctors of the church arguing the state is ordained by God, considering the Biblical verses.

              It is the actual evils of slavery that the Church seeks to alleviate and denounced the mass enslavement of conquered populations, including the slave trade, thereby undermining slavery at its sources rather than the actual state.

            • Tony says:

              More ‘time wasting’ Gareth?

              I hate to break this to Tony – no pope or council has ever made a sweeping condemnation of slavery as such.

              You would probably find some Pope’s even had slaves themselves had some stage?

              From Gaudium Et Spes
              with my emphasis:

              Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.

              Not a lot of wiggle room there, Gareth. No mention of ‘justified’ or ‘unjustified’ slavery; just slavery.

              It is the actual evils of slavery that the Church seeks to alleviate and denounced the mass enslavement of conquered populations, including the slave trade, thereby undermining slavery at its sources rather than the actual state.

              Na Gareth, you’re making that up.

      • Schütz says:

        Gareth and Stephen,

        I don’t think either of you are approaching the matter with the right categories. Actually, Pastor Mark (the Lutheran) has it right in pointing to concupiscence as the problem. There isn’t one of us who is not susceptible to concupiscence in one matter or another; the measure is in how we are able to resist those tendencies. Although the concupiscence itself IS disordered, we cannot make the individual responsible for it. One reason why concupiscence is not “sin in the proper sense” is because it isn’t something we can actually repent of in the sense of switching it off or stopping it. What we are responsible for is how we react to the temptation that arises from concupiscence – whether we live according the flesh or according to the Spirit. When we accept people “as they are”, we are accepting them as persons who are concupiscent. And we are all such.

        • Stephen K says:

          David, I agree concupiscence may be the problem, but not necessarily for the reason you assume. Concupiscence is the technical word for “fallen nature”. Someone who does not accept the “original sin” story, would simply look at human nature and say it’s mortal like all other natural things, and however described, the non-material/spiritual aspect or attributes of humans are limited and fallible. They might say that, to the same extent and in the same way the world is the way it is (because God made it) and if God made it is it is good, or suited to its purpose. Thus, the interplay of excess and restraint is the natural dichotomy of a personality and environmentally-affected choice faculty. As social animals, we may strive for a comparative consensus on what is excess or what is restraint, what is harmful and what is beneficial, and – going one exponential step further – what is wrong and what is right. At some point we throw in the concept of propitiatory justice in relation to a God. Then we call what some of us think is wrong a “sin”. Then, gradually, all the rest that preceded it is looked at askance and before you know it, we need to be “saved” from the very first moment under our own breath, when we are at our most, most innocent!

          Although original sin is now a doctrine that explains the expiational purpose of the doctrine of the Incarnation, I wonder whether it has to be the only explanation. Maybe God just loved us as we were made and wanted to show us!

          I think “concupiscence” is an unfortunate word for the loadedness with which it influences our view of a whole range of human behaviours. Our nature is error-prone, meaning we wreak havoc and hurt in a lot of things we do. But how would we know we have the extent of free choice we think we do have (the dividing line with predeterminedness is elusive) if every person always chose the same thing in the same way at the same time?! Our existential chaos is, I suggest, one of the mysterious and wonderful (if at times frightening) things about us. It’s entirely in keeping with the rest of cosmic life, I’d have thought.

          So, “concupiscence” is just a word, with a meaning, and it’s not necessarily a monster, but it emphasises a view of human affairs that is not only challengable but increasingly challenged

    • catherine says:

      Well I personally don’t have problem being friendly to gays and lesbians but I dare say I have been desensitised to sin. If I had a greater abhorrence of sin, maybe I wouldn”t be comfortable around gays but I am so good at sinning myself I don’t have problems rubbing shoulders with fellow sinners, I consider they just do different sins.

      • Stephen K says:

        You’re absolutely right, Catherine: we all “sin” but to be honest, I’m not sure any of us are ever really in a position to know what’s a sin in any particular instance, theological categories notwithstanding. We can come to conclusions whether WE think something is good or bad, right or wrong, but beyond that, I think it’s all a lot of presumption. Didn’t someone somewhere say “judge not lest ye be judged?”

        • catherine says:

          I agree Stephen K, that one can’t decide whether someone else is sinning, as certain conditions have to be met and one is hardly going to sit down with them and grill them to see whether the necessary requirements are met.

        • Gareth says:

          That’s sounds bice and good in theory Stephen, but the whole soicety is based on judging, whether we like it or not. If not, law courts wouldn’t exist.

          Every day, whether we are conscious or not, we are judged by others (e.g. the clothes we wear, our hair, how we communicate with others).

          Life is full of judging, it is inevitable.

          Also, the Lord’s command should not be taken as a token to condemn sin.

          The Lord also said to avoid sin to the point of cutting off our arm, so He wants us to avoid sin at all costs and not be afraid to speak out or take appropiate action when there are causes of scandal.

          • Stephen K says:

            Yes, Gareth, we all make judgments, as in conclusions from syllogistic reasoning. And yes, we have law courts. But Law courts are different because they test and probe and weigh evidence and the benchmarks for findings are high. Our judgments on the other hand, however “logical” we think they are, are often premissed very vulnerably, are invariably on hearsay, immediate reaction, and reflect our own preferences and level of understanding, not inner thoughts and the complex matrix of factors in behaviour.

            And there is another difference. There is a distinction between deciding that you think someone is doing something wrong or harmful in its effect, and declaring that said something is a “sin”. That is a whole other loaded concept, one that makes sense only in relation to a propitiary G(g)od, and even if you allow a Church – in the person of a confessor – the capacity to make such a declaration, I suggest no-one else can.

            In other words, we ought not ever be in the business of talking about “sin” or “sins”. It’s beyond us. I would distinguish between wrong or harmful and “sin” and say it is reasonable to think not all wrong things or harmful acts are sins (especially if they are done with unselfish intent and also have good effects). (We cannot always replace the word “wrong” with the word “sin” for starters).

            So judging in the sense you mean, the judging of courts and tribunals, and the identification of sin as opposed to things we might think wrong for x or y reason, are all distinct notions and should inform our discourse on all this stuff.

            • catherine says:

              Big round of applause for you Stephen K

            • Gareth says:

              So how are Christians supposed to act or say when someone is believing wrong things or teaching wrong things?

              Are we to allow people to believe every wind of doctrine even though it may take from a state og grace?

              Surely when we fall short of some standard, we need to repent for living unholy lives.

            • Stephen K says:

              I hope this post ends up in the right place. This is in reply to your most recent reply, Gareth.

              [So how are Christians supposed to act or say when someone is believing wrong things or teaching wrong things? ….Gareth]

              This is the point: a Christian might believe that some things are wrong beliefs or someone is teaching things he/she believes are wrong beliefs, but no Christian is God and personal conviction notwithstanding, no Christian “knows” what’s wrong or right morally where others’ convictions are concerned. By all means, a Christian can argue his/her own case, but he/she must use, as a starting point, that the conviction of other persons is as cogent and coherent and sincere to them as it is to her/him. There cannot possibly be any moral defect in anyone holding any belief sincerely, whatever it is!

              [Are we to allow people to believe every wind of doctrine even though it may take from a state of grace?….Gareth]

              “Allow”? Do you mean “permit”? “Refrain from constraining?” or simply “tolerate”? I hope this is not a Freudian slip! We have no place allowing or prohibiting any belief. What would you have? The compulsory baptism like they did to Jews in Reconquista Spain? What worth is that? The result is not different belief, only suffering and resentment. Would you have people not tolerating your belief in grace and any other Christian doctrine?

              The point here is people – including you and I – act according to their lights. We might as a society regard certain acts as physically harmful to OTHERS and constrain them for the protection of OTHERS, but we surely have to be careful about constraining acts that do not physically harm others. The state of grace is not an arithmetic result but can only be a secret known to God. I’d leave that area well alone!

              [Surely when we fall short of some standard, we need to repent for living unholy lives…..Gareth]

              Yes, but the point here is, when WE fall short….WE need…..etc. We are all morally autonomous persons, and the beam and splinter analogy spring to mind here.

              In short, it seems to me a Christian is entitled to defend his or her own belief and moral attitude but the same entitlement is shared by everyone. Hopefully, good ideas and ethics can emerge through example and cogent discourse. I don’t think Christians should be seeking to do anything else.

      • adam george says:

        And what of some famous gay men? Da Vinci and indeed Michelangelo who did so many commissions for the vatican at the direct request and command of the pope? Gays working in the Vatican and their work is still there for all to see especially in the very room where every new pope is elected.
        I guess the Church has loads of such men as its a human organisation that has saints and sinners.
        I think we have to be slow in judging anyone.

        • catherine says:

          Well obviously the Pope’s had the sense to see the good in Da Vinci and Michelangelo rather than burn them at the stake.

          • adam george says:

            hahahahah. yes Michelangelo was never burnt at the stake and did live into his 90’s I think.
            Extraordinary man and possibly the greatest artist/sculptur the world has ever know and never likely to be superceded.
            Bravo!!

            • Gareth says:

              how do we know for sure the Pope knew they were fudgepackers?

            • Tony says:

              You’re all class, Gareth.

            • Gareth says:

              I was trying to be humbe about it, but seeing you were charitable enough to acknowledge it – sincere Thanks.

            • catherine says:

              Tony, I must say that when I go to purgatory ( and I hope I will see Gareth there), my fervent wish will be that God will place him amongst a pack of homosexual men. LOL

            • Gareth says:

              only half of Catherine’s congregation will be kneeling in prayer for my swift release.

            • Tony says:

              Reminds me of a classic old joke which I’ll adapt for the occasion, Catherine.

              Ruben, a gay man, dies and approaches the pearly gates (stretch your imagination Gareth) and St Peter tells him he’s had a good life but his companion for the next 300 years will be a man who he doesn’t find very attractive at all. ‘Call it a kind of penance for the things you did wrong’, says St Peter.

              Ruben was furious. His companion was ugly and he didn’t relish spending the next 300 years with him. He walked away.

              On his way out he saw lots of other couples taking their afternoon constituionals. Some couples were very good looking, others were ‘variable’. In the distance he saw his old friend Bob who was walking with a very attractive man called Gareth.

              Well, Ruben rushed back to St Peter and pleaded with him knowing full well that Bob’s life was no better, if not worse, than his.

              ‘You’re looking at it the wrong way’, said St Peter, ‘Bob is Gareth’s punishment’!

            • catherine says:

              Thanks Tony, I did enjoy tht;)

            • Gareth says:

              Thanks for the humour Tony, you tooth fairy you, I would score it a five or six out of ten.

            • Tony says:

              Thanks Gareth. 5 or 6 out of 10 from you is like 8 or 9 from a reasonable person.

              :-)

          • jules says:

            You don’t know if Michael Michelangelo may have been ‘gay’ or may not have . We don’t know. He could have lived a chaste life! One writer at the time ,Condivi , ascribed to him a “monk-like chastity.”
            Stop trying top hijack people and twist things around. That’s quite deceitful.

            • catherine says:

              Jules, relax, I have been googling and it seems he may very well have been gay. Given he is dead, I am sure he is not worried by people speculating on his past sexual orientation.

            • Tony says:

              Jules is quite right, Catherine, in the sense that we should be very reluctant to judge people, alive or dead, by the ‘court of rumours’.

              Stop trying top hijack people and twist things around. That’s quite deceitful.

              Take it with a grain of salt, Catherine, I’ve had much worse.

            • jules says:

              ….and all well deserved dear Tony.

  10. catherine says:

    Gareth, I don’t know for sure what impact your behaviour has on others, but the gays and lesbians I know are more repelled by “christians” such as yourself than drawn to repenting.

  11. adam george says:

    Is this the ‘Gareth and Catherine Show’ ?

    • catherine says:

      Maybe, but do join in, always happy to have another cast member:)

      • Tony says:

        The question is, ‘Is Catherine punishment for Gareth, or Gareth punishment for Catherine?’

        • catherine says:

          Well, Gareth’s posts don’t punish me, I just think he has very limited life experience. However, if someone of same sex orientation was reading this blog to find out more about catholicism and read Gareth”s references to “queers ” ,”fudgepackers” and “sodomites”, I don’t think Gareth would give them a good impression of Christians or win any converts.It is no wonder homosexuals have a high suicide rate when people such as Gareth are so hostile towards them.

          • Gareth says:

            That’s where you are wrong and naive Catherine.

            Believe it or not, I used to share an office at my work for a period of time with an openly homosexual man and after a period of time he found out I was a practising Catholic.

            You know what, instead of sitting there awkwardly and in a sombre state wondering what we both we thinking, we gradually got to know each other and shared some comraderie by (borrowing Tony’s phrase) ‘taking the piss’ out of each other.

            He used to make all these rude jokes about the church and I would play along with it making up these jokes how he was so friendly and generous because he wasn’t a ‘tight a..’ and if he was a dinosaur his nickname would be ‘megasoa…’ and we would be rolling on the floor laughing.

            Contrary to your views, he would encourage people to take the micky and that is how we earnt respect from each other.

            Isn’t that approach better than if we just sat there and didn’t make light of the situation?

            In my experience it is better to tell a few jokes with homosexual men rather than uptight about it.

            • catherine says:

              Gareth has it occurred to you that if the man is openly homosexual and happy to engage with you, he is not one of the ” sensitive souls” who would be wounded by your comments. I assure you that I am counselling some very tortured, anxious and depressed homosexuals and that your comments would wound them.

              When you use nasty terms to refer to gays and lesbians when you think none are around, don’t be so sure you are not wounding someone, as I know many people (who appear “straight” despite their same sex orientation) are concealing their sexuality for fear of being victimised.

              If I had a dollar for every teenager I have seen who has same sex attraction issues and is unhappily hiding this from their parents because they fear a bad reaction ( often because they have heard their parent/s speaking in derogatory terms about gays and lesbians), I could retire.

  12. Tony says:

    Meanwhile CathNews has featured an article I will not and cannot do gay weddings, says Father Bob.

    So, do we look forward to a retraction of your letter and, perhaps, a donation to Fr Bob’s Foundation, David?

    • Gareth says:

      Maybe when the media tart Fr Bob finally shuts his mouth, yes.

    • Schütz says:

      No, I am not “retracting” the letter.

      1) The letter was written on the basis of the report in the Herald Sun. It makes this clear. Anyone reading the article would have been led to think, as I was, that Fr Bob was prepared to “perform a civil ceremony for a homosexual couple”.

      2) Fr Bob has said “I will not and cannot do gay weddings”. But in fact the substance of the article was that he was prepared to “perform a civil ceremony” for a gay civil union – a point on which the Herald Sun article said Fr Bob “did not have a personal view”.

      3) According to the article, Fr Bob said that he would be prepared to perform such a ceremony in “a private event”.

      4) The article quotes him as saying the prohibition against such a ceremony being held in a church was “not personal, its institutional”.

      As a response to that report, the Letter remains valid. The fact that Fr Bob has issued a short “tweet” along the lines of “I will not and cannot do gay weddings”, although it sounds categorical, does not answer objections to the article nor explain the context of what he actually told the reporter that would lead the reporter to so misunderstand his actual words. If he had told categorically told the reporter that he “will not and cannot do gay weddings”, would the reporter then have gone and written the article that he did? What did he actually say that left the reporter with the impression that he was prepared to “perform a civil ceremony for a homosexual couple” as long as it wasn’t in a Catholic Church? Although I myself do not hold the standard of journalism in our daily papers in high esteem, I cannot believe that a reporter would have completely fabricated an opinion which was diametrically opposite to any thing that Fr Bob actually said to him.

      So questions remain. What DID Fr Bob actually tell the reporter? Did he tell them that he couldn’t do a “wedding” but was prepared to do a “civil ceremony” (there is a distinction here, and Fr Bob’s “tweet” doesn’t address that distinction). What was all that business about “inside a church” and “private ceremony”? Where did that come from? Did the reporter just make it up? Possibly. But I would like to hear a fuller statement from Fr Bob about his actual position on this matter, and how it was possible that the Herald Sun could have gotten it so wrong. I note that the report of his “tweet” is actually in The Age and not in the Herald Sun. If the reporter really did misrepresent Fr Bob, why isn’t the Herald Sun printing a retraction? Given the serious nature of the claims of the original article, it seems to me that an equally high profile and clear statement to the contrary is still required. “Twitter” doesn’t cut it for this little black duck.

      • Tony says:

        So, David, your article stands because the retraction doesn’t ‘cut it’?

        And the basis of your letter is newspaper articles in the context of this blog’s long term scepticism about how newspapers treat church related issues?

        By your own standards, David, this seems … to put it ‘charitably’ … incongruous.

        I know Fr Bob is probably not on your Christmas Card list, but doesn’t he — doesn’t anyone — deserve the benefit of the doubt given your own views on newspapers?

        • Schütz says:

          I think I’ve explained well enough Tony. And I also am growing tired of the unseemly ranting in some of the commentary above. So I’m putting the cork in the pot bottle on this discussion. If anyone has some new information on the subject you can email me and I will start a new discussion.