Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SORs: Now Black is White and White is Black


St Ignatius of Loyola said, “What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it.” All Jesuits would baulk at that today and even the most Ultramontane of Catholics would have similar difficulties, as would the Pope himself.

…But yesterday the Government said, with all the authority of the State and with the backing of legal sanction that, what indeed was black is now white.
The Sexual Orientation Regulations means that hoteliers will have to offer rooms to homosexual couples in the same way it does to heterosexual couples. Just, many might think, the Church in its opposition seems reactionary, negative and unjust. At the Ritz or The Savoy or the large local hotel, maybe it is not an issue, but it is a bit more difficult if it is a small guest house where the guests live alongside the family, but so what? It is livable with many will think.
But we have already seem, in adoption legislation, it is already intended to touch services to others as well, especially children.
When Dr Iqbal Socrane of the Muslim Council suggested that the introduction of civil partnerships posed a serious threat to the family, to society and raised grave health problems, the Metropolitan Police investigated him for “hate crimes”. For Catholics, the SORs are going to mean that in our schools we are not going to be able to teach the superiority of heterosexual marriage, we are certainly not going to be able to teach that homosexual acts are mortally sinful or that homosexuality is, as the catechism says, “intrinsically disordered”, meaning not according to the ordering of God or the Natural Law. Certainly this new law will reinforce the silence on moral issues of many clergy, the silent blathering of many pulpits will have legal underpinning.
The threat of police raids on Catholic presbyteries early in the morning is perhaps unlikely, at least in the near future, but as we have seen in the Socrane case not the invitation for an interview by the policy department responsible for “hate crimes”. As abortion law has excluded doctors from certain areas of medicine, contraception and “the morning after pill” has pushed most Catholic pharmacists out of the NHS and chains of chemists, so this legislation is going to put immense pressure on Educationalists especially, and on other “service providers”. The authorities I presume will not want to directly confront the Church but the Church is under siege, a war of attrition has begun to be waged against it.

Priests and Bishops, if they understand what the Church is saying, and are sympathetic to it, both issues that need to be examined carefully nowadays, are going to have to be seen as signs of contradiction and are going to have to upset many of their congregation. We have not been good at talking about sex in the UK, maybe this is British modesty combined with a sense of sexual privacy, or maybe it is English descent from Magisterial teaching. The problem is that many will see, and many will present, orthodox Catholic teaching as harsh, out of date, cruel or even unjust, a denial of human rights. The Bishops most especially, with their silent press office, and the Catholic press itself, if it is capable of it and not already compromised, need to give firm clear leadership and to draw out everything that is positive in the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality. The Scottish bishops have already said they will ignore the SOR legislation and presumably wait for action to be taken against them. In England where the policy has been to do things behind the scenes and to try to work out compromise, things are going to be more difficult, English Catholics have not been invited to barricades for a generation, since the abortion debate was still on, they gave up when their leaders lost heart.

Who amongst the hierarchy can call the faithful to support the Church?
Who can present the Christ’s teaching to the British public as the voice of the “Good”?
Who has the courage?

8 comments:

Michael Petek said...

Police raids on presbyteries are perhaps less likely than on the homes of Catholic teachers who find themselves in contempt of court for disobeying a court order not to teach that homosexual acts are sinful.

Jesus said, after all, that the time to give witness of Him is when we are taken to court.

A defendant might as well be frank and blunt with the judge and state that he is as much on trial in the court of Christ the King as the defendant is in his. Either the judge disapplies whatever the Church says is offensive to Christ or will answer to Him at the Last Judgement.

Mind you, it looks like things are about to get worse in Brazil. The Senate there has voted to refer to a committee a draft law which will make it an offence, punishable with up to five years imprisonment, for a priest to preach agaunst homosexual acts.

sarah said...

Father you write of the 'superiority' of Christian marriage over other arrangements. This implies that these arrangement are marriages themselves, which they are not and will never be, whatever those who contract civil partnerships think. Surely you should have said the 'normality' of marriage, Christian or otherwise. Maybe Christian marriage is superior to civil marriage between a man and a woman, but that's only if the parties take their vows seriously and live Christian lives. Many church weddings turn out to be charades, many civil marriages are a success. It's civil partnerships that are up the pole as far as marriage is concerned because they have no basis in the natural procreation of children. That's why lesbians have to mess about with turkey basters and men with adoption agencies.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sarah,
I actually say "heterosexual marriage". I use marriage becasue that is the way most people see civil "partnerships", that is certainly how politicians both of the left and right now speak of civil "partnership".
I do not think there can be any comparison between a union that is sacramental and one that is merely legal, but it is that we have to defend.
As you say the difference between what a heterosexual couple and homosexual couple is one procreation.

Dan said...

I think it's crazy to think of civil partnerships as 'marriages'. This is an inevitable misreading after the event. Wasn't the original intention to protect property and give two people living together the right to inheritance and pension rights? Aren't men and women also choosing this option instead of marriage for tax reasons? What individuals decide to make of their civil partnerships is one thing, but nobody can seriously regard them as marriages in the conventional sense. Incidentally, I think I should say that I have no objection to these partnerships in principle because I have known instances when people have died intestate and their life companions have been made homeless and penniless by greedy relations, some of whom had nothing to do with them when they were alive. To me that is grossly unjust amd that brings the argument back to property. I also accept that this is secular legislation but that is inevitable in the times in which we live.

Anonymous said...

I'm loathe to bring party politics into this debate,but as a resident of N.I.where this pernicious law was imposed by Peter Hain on 1st jan.2007,might I please beg your indulgence? Ironically the only political party to oppose the measure was the Rev.Ian Paisley's D.U.P.Last year John Hume's S.D.L.P.actually flew a 'gay'rights
flag from its Belfast constituency
office in support of L&G activists.
I can remember perusing some of my
wife's sociology and physiology
course books some 25 or 30 years ago,while she was studying to be a health visitor.The active homosexual condition was described
therein as a 'deviance'.
Fast forward to 2007 and now we are being told by our politicians
that what was rightly regarded for
thousand of years as 'deviant
behaviour'is suddenly normal and
acceptable.
Congratulations to the Scottish
Bishops who have decided to face down this monsterous imposition.
Our thoughts and prayers will be with them in their heroic witness
to the Christian Gospel message.
Thomas.

Hebdomadary said...

Clearly, Father, you have to. And if it gets the diocese into trouble, so be it. They can either back you or demonstrate material heresy. But somebody has to stand up to it. This freakish generation has to discover somehow that at its core, the Roman Catholic Church is still the fundamental pillar of our civilization, which can be defaced, but not moved. I doubt that they'll draw and quarter you, but it would still be a heroic witness. Easy for me to say, I know. But when you say the Church is under threat, you're not kidding. It's being menaced from all sides by the chaos of a crumbling civilization, not so much by any individual government, but by the rabble these governments are willfully turning their subjects into, so that they can remake it into their own polynational corporate image...and I'm a capitalist. But I'm not a one-worlder, except under the dominion of the Kingship of Christ. If that gets in Exxon's way, then I guess we'll just have to sort each other out. Better sooner than later. Be bold.

Henry said...

The whole affair, and much of the comment both for and against, strikes me as unbalanced.

Long ago, I was on holiday with a friend (male, nothing naughty) on the Isle of Skye, in Wee Free country, and we were expected to share the bed at a B&B. So how the world has changed!

The "gay marriage" issue arose in the first instance as an attempt to resolve property law anomalies, but instead of resolving the anomalies themselves, our legislators in their wisdom decided to compound the mistake with this nonsense.

Which brings me to the final point. Although I agree in principle with the point they are making, why is it that those who are objecting vociferously to this piece of legislation generally silent when the government pushes through all sorts of other legislation which are harmful to families? Eg war is not a family-friendly policy, and incidentally, it is one which can lead to sexual deviancy when one parent is away or dead. Nor is the government's economic policy when it leads to multi-generation unemployment and unaffordable housing.

So please, if you are protesting about this issue, when you have finished, consider the overall picture and direct your energy into looking at all the forces which are getting in the way of normal family life.

Worried English Catholic said...

Maybe, just maybe, this is a moment when we can allow the Holy Spirit to truly enter our lives and enable us to speak up for Christ and His teachings.

In other words, if the bishops (above all), priests and lay folk have the courage and belief in the convictions we claim to hold when things are easy, now face up to these convictions courageously, then we might be able to restore all things to Christ.

I suspect, however, that any lead will come from below. The bishops have already sold out by acknowledging that Catholic adoption agencies already refer homosexual people to other agencies. It will be a lay person in court before a bishop.