Saturday, February 04, 2012

My Cowardism over Gay Masses

I saw this video here, yesterday and decided not to republish it, not primarily because I thought it would scandalise the little ones but because I was a little afraid of the reaction of some vague "establishment". I was cowardly; Fr  Tim has published it, I have taken courage from him.

The problem for so many priests is that we know these Masses apparently have the wholehearted support of Archbishop Nichols, or at least he will brook no criticism of them and indeed they were set up by another archbishop, Archbishop Longley, now of Birmingham, when he was an Auxiliary in Westminster under the direction of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. The impression is that they have the support of most of our bishops and indeed criticism is seriously frowned upon. That, in turn raises serious questions.

My serious objection is not that Mass is offered for a particular group. I am more than happy to offer Mass for the elderly, for children, for the sick, for women or men or particular language groups and yes, for men and women who are homosexual, or as the Catechism says, "have a same sex attraction". What I find scandalous, is that Mass is offered for a group of people who, as this video shows, obviously dissent from the teaching of the Church and gather primarily to challenge that teaching, rather than to worship. This does a serious disservice to those who struggle to make sense of their sexuality in the shadow of the Cross.

The Pope said to our bishops on their last Ad Limina Visit, "It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate".

Here indeed is not debate but dissent, which is going unchecked and those who challenge it are told by our most senior bishop, to "hold their tongue" and for his stance on these Masses claims the support of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.  This not about caring for "sexual minorities" but about giving license to a group within the Church that wishes to conform her doctrine to their own secular liberal agenda.

Then I suppose I could be wrong and simply be misunderstanding His Grace, but then a great number of clergy and laity are confused by the subtlety of his teaching, especially on this issue.
"Who knows what is down the road?"


Lynda said...

Overcoming fear and cowardice is a continual battle, especially in a society such as ours where sin has become normalised and even promoted, so that he who declares and decries the evils promoted by the elite, will be persecuted. Of course, God calls us to rejoice - but it is very hard for those of us who are a long way from attaining holiness. Courage, Father. You know that it is your duty to fight such evil. Archbishop Nichols appears to be severely compromised in his duty to lead Catholics to holiness, even to the point of denying reason and logic and truth. When a moral and faith leader puts so much store in nuance, you know that he has lost his bearings and that irrational relativistic ideology is influencing him. Thank you, Father Blake and Father Finigan. Never stop speaking the truth - think of the souls you are saving (that is what priests are especially called to do, is it not?). If you don't speak out, who will? We are crying out for leadership in our Church! If we are silent in respect of what we know to be evil, we are facilitating it spreading, hurting more and more people as it is allowed to continue unopposed. You have many priests and laity that will support you. I know how lonely it can feel, though. Offer your suffering up for the end of the scandalous mockery of God and His commandments in His own house.

Lynda said...

The video should be sent to the CDF. If the Archbishop won't do his duty and stop it, then others must step in and do so.

Hughie said...

This is just a part of the circumstances which led Pope Benedict to take a conscious, and conscience based, decision NOT to raise Archbishop Nichols to the cardinalatial dignity in a fortnight's time.

It had NOTHING to do with Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor still being a cardinal elector -- Cardinal Egan will still be a cardinal elector but Archbishop Dolan will get his red biretta -- and everything to do with accommodating dissent.

John Fisher said...

Father these Masses have been happening since at least the early 1980's. There was a gay group called "Acceptance" with diassaffected clergy, ex clergy/ seminarins, laymen ans women. Many in sexual relationships that still wanted discrete Masses. This was during the time of Basil Hume. The aim of the group was to undermine the Church's teaching on this. I know this beacuse I was given some documemntation and leaflets the group gave to ne member and mebers. Also there was a monthly newsletter with Mass times and where. complaints were made to Basil Hume and Rome showing the group wanted to subvert the Church's teaching that homosexual behaviour is immoral. That aim is to undermine while using membership of the Catholic Church to do it! Being in a state if mortal sin or taking communion while being sexually active is ignored by many members. The priests involved often agree and so the Mass is profaned and Church corrupted from within!

Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

Well done Fr. You have been very brave. I am with you 100%. I can see it is difficult for you, especially living in Brighton and knowing that the hierarchy of your church support this venture. We must distinguish between caring for people with special needs and allowing a group to promote a lifestyle which is condemned by scripture and the teaching of both our churches.

Judith said...

Having watched I'm afraid I really can't see what is specifically being objected to. On Fr Tim Finnegan's blog it appeared to be the fact that a man dressed as woman is reading the bidding prayers. Which suggests why people might feel more comfortable at that Mass rather than in their own parish.

Gpanoname said...


May I ask what is the evidence from the video clip to support your assertion that "... Mass is offered for a group of people who, as this video shows, obviously dissent from the teaching of the Church and gather primarily to challenge that teaching, rather than to worship."

Peter Lawson

Part-time Pilgrim said...

I agree that Archbishop Vincent Nichols should call a halt to these Masses. The original intention may have been good but they seem to have been hijacked by those who do promote dissent. At the very least they obfuscate the Church's clear teaching on these matters.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols' "Hold their tongues" comment was to a specific call to refuse communion to those attending the Soho Masses. I understand that Canon Law is clear on this point and His Grace was correct. I don't think he was trying to forbid criticism and in any case he is not your Bishop.

SPQRatae said...

What I find curious is that they loudly condemn anybody who is not 'inclusive', but then proceed with bidding prayers that are saturated in self obsession, utterly excluding everybody and everything that isn't part of their world view.

blondpidge said...

I have also supported Fr Tim and yourself on this one, despite being the establishment mouthpiece.

My blog will incurr more traffic than usual this weekend, hence the very clear message from someone who is allegedly blindly allegiant.

I hope that sends a message that many are concerned.

epsilon said...

Judith and Peter Lawson - you don't see anything wrong in people who are openly opposing the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual practice praying for organisations that are openly hostile to the Catholic Church within the prayers of a Catholic Mass, the ultimate religious service of the Catholic Church!

Part Time Pilgrim, everything Archbishop Vincent Nichols says has an affect on Catholicism in this country whether he is our bishop or not!

Part-time Pilgrim said...


Of course it does - the media want him to be the "head" of the Catholic Church in England and Wales because that saves them trying to understand how the Church works and some Catholics view him in the same light.

I am sure, however, Fr Blake does understand what authority +VN has and what he does not have.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Father: You are absolutely right in drawing our attention to this video. Archbishop Nichols is also right in saying that one should not query the state of grace of someone going up to receive communion. Although I suppose if one has sufficient grounds for doing so one might have a private word with them?
I do not think it is so much as question of banning these masses but of making sure that these celebrations uphold the teaching of the Church.

At present there is something called the Soho Masses Pastoral Council. It has no official standing and is certainly not constituted in accordance with Canon Law. However it is allowed to claim that it has official approval from the Church here and in Rome. Yet it openly promotes sexual practices contrary to church teaching and is allowed to "organise" these masses with the results one can see from this video. A vigorous Parish Priest could deal with this situation by setting up a proper Parish Council in accordance with Canon Law, the members of which would be obliged to accept Church teaching. It would be merely advisory and the PP would organise the masses and ensure that there is no heretical or immoral teaching. It should then be made clear that the Soho Masses Pastoral Council has no role. Gentle kindness prompting people in the right direction is what is needed.

Patricius said...

This is an appalling scandal. We must pray hard for Archbishop Nichols both now and when, after having done the right thing, he is attacked, as he undoubtedly will be, by the establishment.

Physiocrat said...

It is plain ugly. I thought gay men were meant to be aesthetes.

This is why the EF needs to become the norm. It just leaves no room for eccentricities. The OF is too loose, whilst bidding prayers leave too much space for people to wheel out their hobby horses.

As those who know me are well aware, I have a quite few of my own.

How about "We pray for the re-ordering of churches. May altars be restored ever closer to their original positions..."

That the bishops permit this kind of laxity in celebration of the liturgy is inconsistent with their general disapproval of the use of the Extraordinary Form now that it has been declared that there is no impediment to its use.

gemoftheocean said...

Don't so much worry about cowardice per se. It's not how many times you fall down, as how many times you get up. We all get cold feet sometimes for fearing to offend. Even stalwart St. Peter had his moments of lapse. Just keep plodding on. You're doing a fine job.

Sixupman said...

What of ++Nichols' confreres on the Bishops' Conference - does Collegiality dictate they all agree with the gay mass debacle?

nickbris said...

This is all very puzzling for older Catholics to understand.We know all about the laws that made it a criminal offence to discriminate against people for their sexual leanings and that everybody must be treated the same.

If we are all the same why do homosexuals have to have their own Mass and why do they have to have their own Flag?

If some Catholics can be excused certain SINS then there should be a separate Mass for couples living together as Man & Wife but unmarried,or a separate Mass for those who only go once a year.

Good King Hal decided to start his own Church with himself as head.

To cater for all these extra Masses a lot more Priests would have to be recruited or we can have Mass hourly around the clock.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I was horrified to see this video, and I share most of the critical remarks that are being made. But I would like more facts so that I could be sure that I was seeing the whole picture. Ex.Gr.: this video was taken during the July 'Pride Season'. That may be why the flag was over the ambo, one of the readers was in a dress, and the Intercessions were so comically fixated on only one thing. If it were true that this was a one-off, and that on every other Sunday these extravagances are absent, then, in my view, the priest responsible should indeed be spoken to, but the situation is not as grossly and as blasphemously offensive as I, like any other orthodox Catholic, assumed when I watched the video for the first time.

Karen said...

God continue to bless you, Father. You are an inspiration and a true shepherd. I stand with you and pray that I also will stand courageously for the truth, no matter what the cost. Thank you, and I will keep you in my prayers.

FrBT said...

sorry that is too long,

Every human being has the right to come to The Lord's Temple/Church and pray.

Every human being has the right to approach The Lord and ask for His Mercy and Forgiveness.

I do not criticise or object to men or women who are attracted to their own gender.

What I do say, is that I ask men amd women who have a same gender friendship to control the friendship and not to let it develop into a sexual union.

Crossing that boundry, then obvious problems immidiately occur.

Sex between the same gender humans is wrong. Look at St Paul's letters to the Romans.

Why is it wrong? Because God made man in His own Image and likeness for the creation of mankind. Giving men and woman their respected reproductive organs to create a new life. The two different and seperate bodies become one,upon union, blessed by the Sacrament of Matrimony.

There is a specific reason for the biological differences in God's creation of two different gender

Forming a physical union between two same gender humans is completly disregarding God's intentions for the creation of man and woman.

That is why it is wrong.

Emotions and love is of course accepted by most people to be a natural state, normal state of humanity. But it ought to be controlled that the normal state does not become abnormal.

It is correct to pray for many causes/groups/organisations.

It is incorrect to allow the Offering of Holy Mass or Bidding Prayers etc for any cause which allows or promotes participation of an act or acts against the Rules of Holy Mother Church.

Defend what is Right and Just and quash what is incorrect and leads to sin.

Whatever position one is in, it is always wise to speak with caution and of course not to offend anyone or deliberatly hurt them.
But there are occassions where one has to speak out against a particular subject which may be controversial or politically incorrect.

Courage is a gift from The Holy Spirit. I have a duty to defend God because I love God and His Holy Mother with all my heart.

I would not allow such a Mass to take place in my church because it would go against what I know to be
incorrect or wrong according to Holy Mother Church.

The same applies to transexual/transgender people. I pray for you, but I cannot promote or support your activities or organisations. I will not object to you coming to Mass or to my church. If you come to receive Holy Communion, I will make a decision at that very moment, whether to give you Holy Communion. After all, it The Lord Himslf that is in my hands. The Lord and The Holy Spirit will guide me when I have to make that decision.


Dan said...

Don't be mad at Nichols; be mad about a Vatican that doesn't do anything about it. The buck stops in Rome, after all.

And I fear merely witholding the red hat from this episcopal traitor is insufficient - if, indeed, the reason they are not giving him the hat is because of this, which is far from proven. No, he must be cashiered, publicly, as a lesson to other straying Bishops.

When Rome gets serious about this homosexual infestation in our beloved Church, the one Church founded by Christ Himself while He lived on earth, then good things will happen and not before. Apparently the present Pontiff is too terrified of the media to really take strong, unequivocal, "tough love" type actions. Let's pray that he does so in the remaining years he has left.

Just another mad Catholic said...

If was a gay Catholic I'd be praying to be cured rather than trying to get the church to change their mind.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...Even stalwart St. Peter had his moments of lapse..."

When Saint Peter asked for the counsel of a woman, the Holy Mother, she told him "I cannot help you"

She directed him to Christ for forgiveness. The First Confession.

What you suffered from is skirt burn, not cowardice.

Cowardice in the Priesthood is exampled by the Priesthood of Judas Iscariot.

God bless Father Finnegan for helping his fellow Padre.

The distractions to the Holy Ministry of Priests that Satan treasures most are opinions of women that chirp in every time the business of men presents itself.

Thanks be to God the Priesthood is reserved to men.

Father Gabriel Amorth has written a book, and it has been commented upon:

Those noted in Father Amorth's book are the ones responsible for that outrage in Holy Mother Church.

An Act of Reparation for these sins committed by those Catholics is in order.

I guarantee you this was not the Mass of All Time; it could only have been in the Novus Ordo.

Some times it is good to have the company of fellow Priests:

God be with you, Padre.

My grandchildren and I will say a decade of the Rosary at Mass tomorrow.

Viva Cristo Rey!


Physiocrat said...

There has to be room for everyone in the church. Bowing to one group is excluding to others, and the teaching of the church must be held to. This does not just apply to people with particular sexual orientations. Why, for instance, do national groups have regular masses in their own language. It divides parishes who should be praying together - and meeting socially too.

This is why we must move slowly but decisively to the reinstatement of the EF as the normative liturgy.

Aaron S-C said...

Wondering how necessary it is to publish "Just Another Mad Catholic's" opinion that homosexuality is an illness/ disease that needs to be, quote, 'cured'.

To say that such an opinion is both upsetting and offensive (without I hope being accused of "political correctness") is an understatement.

It is Septuagesima Sunday and an opportunity for us to prepare for Lent and work on all that hinders our relationship with God. After looking at some of the hate-filled comments on Fr. Tim's page it might be worth us thinking about the meaning, importance, and value of charity (1 Cor 13), oF not judging our neighbour, lest we too be judged (St. Matthew 7 and Romans 2) and of the Catechism's teaching on homosexuality "They [homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC 2358). Also, the Catechism's teaching on avoiding rash judgement (CCC 2478).

I don't personally support the Soho Masses (I'd much rather they celebrated an EF Mass for the intentions of all those that struggle with chastity within the context of homosexuality) but equally I don't think transphobic comments about people in "wigs and dresses" is helpful (in-fact blogger "Shadowlands felt the same and was moved to provide a video, out of charity, for that man/ woman in the dress, see )

Anyway, may God be with us and inspire and incline our hearts to real charity and openness to the "other" whoever he or she may be.

God Bless you too Fr.

Deacon Neil said...

Father, thank you for this clip. Whilst the Church must be inclusive and try to call all the sinners, we must be clear about what the Churches teachings are on human sexuality. Of course the Archbishop is right, that ,save in the case of inebriation, one does not challenge at the point that the Eucharist is given. But these masses appear to have as their very reason for celebration a direct and serious challenge to the faith we have received from the apostles. This will not do. The Churches teachings are clear, unambiguous and are given in infallible teaching. The point is that as Catholics we believe this to be the will of God, revealed to us through His Holy Church. Unlike Liberal Catholics in the C of E or elsewhere, we don't have a vote and decide for ourselves, we receive God's teachings through the Holy Father. This must be upsetting for some and we must pray for them, but there it is. In the pews the strength of the Catholic Church is "the terrible candour of insistent orthodoxy" which is of course no more than Our Lord being among us and guiding His church. The apparent detachment of the "top" is worrying.

Nicolas Bellord said...


All that "Just Another Mad Catholic" said was:

"If I was a gay Catholic I'd be praying to be cured rather than trying to get the church to change their mind."

He did not say that homosexuality was a disease or illness. If I had a besetting sin of say gluttony I might well ask the Lord to cure me of that sin. I would not thereby be implying that gluttony was a disease or illness. It really does not do to claim that the comments on this blog are hate-filled. I can understand that this is a painful subject for some as they wrestle with their consciences but it is a legitimate subject to discuss and it is of great concern to many of us.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Aaron, Thank your wise comment. you are of course right, gratuitous insults are not helpful, they only alienate the already alienated.

What concerns me is theological dissent, I do not think homespun theories of the causes of sexual attraction or their "curing" are of much use. People are where they are, Christ comes to give sense and reason and meaning, and courage too.
Yes he heals but his healing is little different from Mad Catholic's "cure", which is so redolent of electricity, hormones and even the knife.
It is important that we at least try to empathise with those who feel so distanced from the Church. Making our message, Christ's message, appear one of bigoted hatred or arrogance, rather than one of love doesn't help.
Fortunately the Gospel is not the Daily Mail, I wish people didn't confuse the two!

Lynda said...

I don't know about the Daily Mail in the UK - just its reputation among the left-wing Media (and, indeed, traditionally among the Irish). However, the Irish Daily Mail, unlike most Irish secular papers, does afford the right of reply to Catholics and other proponents of traditional and objective morality. It also has some such columnists, unlike the rabidly anti-Catholic ones who permit only irrational and spiteful references to Catholicism and Catholics.

Diego said...

I may be wrong, but I heard that the gentleman in lady's clothing was, at the time, awaiting 'gender reassignment'. Where else could he have this sex-change procedure but THE leading place for such in England, the "Catholic" hospital of St John and St Elisabeth in the archdiocese of Westminster....

nickbris said...

Don't forget,anything you see in the Daily Mail has to be taken with a pinch of salt.It was after all Hitler's favourite British newspaper

Nicolas Bellord said...

The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth has a code of ethics which forbids gender reassignment operations and I would hope that it is complied with. There is a website at

which implies that this is not so but it may be out of date. However I have heard rumours in the last year. It would be interesting to have a comment from the Chairman of their ethics committee - Sir Mark (Our man in Libya) Allen on this.

Part-time Pilgrim said...

It's not on their list of services. They are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Let's save our condemnation for when it is merited and not start or propogate rumours.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Dear Part-Time Pilgrim,

Normally I would agree with you. However there does come a moment when an organisation can lose its right to the benefit of the doubt and the past behaviour of the Hospital is such that one can question whether such a right still exists. It is only recently that they removed the prohibition on referrals for abortion claiming that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had approved this when they had not. The prohibition has been reinstated, presumably at the behest of the CDF, but they have an NHS GP practice, on site, who are exempt from the Code of Ethics and will be under contract to provide such referrals etc. The Hospital advertise the existence of this GP practice on their website. You would think that if they were sincere about their Code of Ethics that they would not do so.

Part-time Pilgrim said...

The only evidence I have seen that St John and St Elizabeth have been carrying out gender re-assignment operations is the fact that you have heard rumours and than Diego says it is the "leading centre" for such operations.
Studying their website indicates they don't explicitly offer the procedure and none of their plastic surgeons or urology specialist claim it as an area of expertise. (Their are some who say they are experts in re-construction of male and/or female parts but that is not the same thing at all).
By all means condemn them for their stance on abortion but to acuse them of something else on flimsy ground could render the acuser guilty of causing scandal themsleves.
Of course if anyone has stronger evidence ....

Aaron S-C said...

Hmm. First of all it's reassuring to see that our prejudice extends to transphobia and all those that, for deep-seated psychological reasons, undergo gender reassignment. Perhaps a prayer protest outside one of the hospitals that offer such treatment.

Nicolas the fact you see nothing wrong in comparing a homosexual orientation to "gluttony" or as I have seen it compared on Fr. Tim's comment box "theft" and elsewhere "paedophilia" just goes to show the abject lack of education in the Catholic Church over homosexuality, and the mix of "bad education" and prejudice that comprises the laities knowledge.

The problem with comparing homosexuality to "gluttony" is that it radically fails to acknowledge what homosexuality is, which is not a "besetting sin" towards vice but often the outworking of a narrative of desire, longing, and affection towards the same sex: it is essentially the desire to find meaning and love except the object of one's affection is the same sex, not the opposite sex.

When people like yourself talk about this "outworking" in terms of vice, sin, and as the then Cardinal Ratzinger put it in 1986 "a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil" what it does to the "gay Catholic" is forces him or her to evaluate his or her sexuality (in all its longing, desire, and messiness) in terms of sin, vice, objective evil. It "bind the gay conscience" as James Alison puts it; it says "YOUR LOVE IS DISORDERED"; James Alison also put it thus:

"A bound conscience is a sense of being formed by a double-bind or a series of double binds. For instance: ‘My command is that you should love-but your love is sick’"

The problem the Church has is when it CONFLATES HOMOSEXUALITY WITH HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY: the two are not the same: one is about longing, desire, a sort of "trying-to-find-meaning" in the other; whereas the other is about lust, is corporeal.

There are some gay men that will argue that homosexual activity is a perfectly legitimate expression of love between two men/ women: I do not agree with this. I fully confess that sex is in marriage alone and between a husband and a wife. I think that for many homosexuals there is a confusion as to where they find love, which can and should never be in sexual activity; however that does not make it proper or helpful to describe homosexuality (and those that do express their homosexuality in homosexual activity) as de facto an ordering towards sin.

Sorry long post. Hope it makes sense.

RIchard said...

Aaron's is the most sensible comment I have read on this page. What harm is the mass doing? No one is compelled to attend, and it is certainly helping people to draw nearer to our Lord who would most likely feel alienated in their home parish.

Lynda said...

The problem with such behaviour at Masses is that it leads people away from the Lord and towards sin and denial of sin, and deadening of the moral sense. It is because we care about the souls of our brothers and sisters that we demand they are told the truth, or where they know that it is a lie, acknowledge that is so, cease the sinful behaviour, and repent. People sin for many different proximate reasons (and some through non-wilful ignorance do not bear much guilt). However, it is always a most grievous sin to knowingly stand by when others sin, particularly in a public way, causing damage to the morality of many, and do nothing when one can without hardship speak up and help those persons. To do so, invites abuse from those who want the sinful behaviour to continue for whatever reason. We all have a duty, in accordance with our state in life, our knowledge, our ability, our relationship with the other person, etc., to help others' souls be saved - if we ignore this duty we endanger our own salvation.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Dear Aaron,

I think there is a misunderstanding here of what I said. What Just Another Mad Catholic said was:

“If I was a gay Catholic I'd be praying to be cured rather than trying to get the church to change their mind.”

This was then interpreted as meaning that he was saying that the homosexual inclination was a disease/illness. My argument was that because one used the word “cured” did not necessarily mean that was implying an illness or disease. Thus I might pray to be cured of the sin of gluttony without meaning that an inclination towards gluttony or gluttony itself was an illness or disease. (Although in to-day's society many tend to regard sin as just an illness or disease over which one has little control). I was not comparing gluttony with a homosexual orientation. However I cannot see what objection one could have in comparing sex between people of the same sex with gluttony in the sense that they are both sins which you recognise as such.

I cannot be responsible for whatever comparisons others have made.

Can we agree that the homosexual inclination gives rise to a desire to have sexual relations with someone of the same sex? You speak of a “narrative of desire, longing, and affection towards the same sex: it is essentially the desire to find meaning and love except the object of one's affection is the same sex, not the opposite sex”. Is that desire you speak of sexual desire? One surely has to separate that out from “longing, affection, meaning and love”. Those are things which a person, whether or not homosexual, can have for somebody of the same sex or the opposite sex; indeed it is extremely common and valuable. Equally a man can dearly love somebody else's wife. However if he allows himself to entertain sexual desires for that wife then according to the Gospel he has already committed adultery and his love can turn into “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil”. It is vital to keep the two things separate.

Your quotes from James Alison seem to suggest that he believes that it is impossible to keep the two things separate but then does he not advocate recognising sex between homosexuals as being legitimate? Is he not conflating the two things?

There is an interesting article in the Sept/Oct 2011 edition of “Faith” magazine entitled “Contraception and the Imperfection of Natural Family Planning” wherein it is said “The human sexual urge as it is experienced post-Fall is very different [from before the Fall]: Sexual desire is overdeveloped.” Surely we all have disordered inclinations?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Dear Part-time pilgrim,

This has a long history. Mr David Ralph was the surgeon who developed phalloplasty surgery for women wanting to acquire the appearance of male sexual organs. In the past he has carried out such surgery at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth. Under the Act of Parliament which recognises changes of gender there is no requirement to have surgery. Thus a woman can claim to be of the male gender before having surgery. After long denying that these operations were taking place the Hospital's excuse for allowing this surgery was that the patient was already a man under the Act and therefore it was not a sex change operation. They persistently refused to allow any independent examination of hospital operating records. They were not truthful. By telling lies they managed to convince the Charity Commission that allowing the GP practice in was in accordance with Catholic ethics – see the Charity Commission's report of their inquiry into that.

Dr Ralph is still accredited to the Hospital as a consultant. Look at:

The problem is that one can receive reports from nurses saying that they have assisted at such operations or pharmacists who say they have been asked to supply abortifacient drugs but they are too terrified of ruining their professional lives to allow one to take the matter further. They just move elsewhere. Members of the hierarchy tend to ignore these “little people” and pay too much attention to people at the top. Has the very close connection with the Viveka IVF clinic nearby been an ethical connection? When you get rumours and have suspicions what do you suggest doing? Do you just accept bland assurances? Maybe all this has stopped – so why not say so and allow independent verification?

Patricia Phillips said...

Re: Aaron's comment at 10.08 on 4/2/12 - the quote from the Catechism: "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC 2358)". Quite so, but unfortunately, not a few dissenting homosexuals are interpreting that quote to mean that ANY criticism of homosexual behaviour is unjust, and do not waste an opportunity to hurl that quote at anyone who upholds Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality, in order to wrong-foot them. Believe me, I have seen this on many occasions. Don't be taken in by it. There is such a thing as JUST discrimination, i.e. it is not right to let a dissenting group use Catholic premises, especially churches, to further their agenda. The 1986 CDF document on pastoral care for homosexuals makes that crystal clear: "We encourage the Bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin. We would heartily encourage programmes where these dangers are avoided. But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve . . . .

All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous".

Hopefully, no-one will be accusing the CDF of 'unjust discrimination'.

Cosmos said...

It is strange that some Catholics are so quick to chastise other Catholics for ascribing motives to others, but then ascribe the worst motives to those who hold the Church's view that homosexuality is a disorder, and that non-marital sexual relations are wrong.

I don't know a single Catholic who hates any homosexuals. Instead, the Catholics I know that have submitted to the Church's teaching on the issue treat homosexuality like any other human sexual compulsion. Catholics don't hate those who have pre-marital sex, look at pornography, have affairs, etc.. They don alcoholics or drug addicts. They merely believe, through faith and experience, that the behavior is destructive, inverted, and cannot bring true happiness on a natural level. For this reason, they understand why God has condemned these behaviors as sinful.

The key difference is that none of these other groups spend so much time insisting that the Church's view is wrong and that her member's are bigots. Most people who dissent from her teachings either ignore the Church or join some other Christian communion. They fact that Catholics think of homosexuals differently from other groups is because it is one of the few groups that is on a tireless offensive within her ranks. If a group circles the wagons and acts like political activists then they should not be surprised to get treated as such from time to time.

Aaron S-C said...

@Nicolas Bellord said...

"Can we agree that the homosexual inclination gives rise to a desire to have sexual relations with someone of the same sex?"

"Is that desire you speak of sexual desire?"


No. This is the point that I am trying (and failing) to make.

The natural 'end' of a homosexual orientation is not necessarily, by definition, a desire towards sex with those of the same sex.

I would argue that there are 'competing homosexualities' e.g., homosexuality is 'lived' in different ways (e.g. there are some homosexual male couples who live together in sexless relationships...this doesn't make them any 'less homosexual').

I am homosexual but my homosexuality is 'lived out' within the 'purview of Catholicism', and so one of its essential characteristics [my homosexuality] is that it is chaste, and celibate (yet again, this doesn't make me any 'less' homosexual).

Homosexuality to-day has been conflated (i.e., made synonymous with) lust towards other men, the sort St. Paul describes in Romans 1. The consequence was that 'official Catholicism' tends to understand homosexuality in the words of the then Cardinal Ratizinger (1986):

"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder"

I am loathe to disagree with anything the Holy Father says, however I do believe this 26 y.o document is problematic in that it sees the 'essential and indispensable end' of homosexuality as a 'desire towards sexual activity'.

Sex is about more than just 'activity' : it's broken, yes, it's about longing and desire for closeness, affection, meaning, and sometimes if it is mixed with lust it is also about other things...we should pray for an end to a culture and society that mixes lust with entertainment and tends to sexualize all orientations.

To be honest, in-front of the Blessed Sacrament, we're not hetero or homosexual: we're children of God. Part of me thinks we should stop discussing 'sex and sexuality' altogether and leave it to the married couples!

Nicolas Bellord said...

Aaron: I think we have got to the nub of where we disagree i.e. the definition of homosexuality or indeed of sexuality tout court. I do not believe that "longing and desire for closeness, affection, meaning" derive from sexuality of any kind as you suggest. Such can exist quite apart from any sexual desire. For example I do not think people, on the whole, get married just because of sex. They fall in love and having sex in marriage is not making that love but expressing it in a particular way - ideally for procreation. I suppose because of some nonsense from Freud we tend to think that everything derives from sex but I believe it does not. The article I mentioned in "Faith" is worth reading.

Cosmos said...


In the West at least, I am sure we can all agree that people get married for all kinds of reasons: some for friendship, some for sex, most (probably) for both.

While you are certainly right that not "everything derives from sex," there are many, many ways of being in relationship other than the marriage covenant. Marriage is a unique relationship (a unique form of friendship) intended to create the necessary conditions for a procreative relationship: i.e., for a family.

Despite the spin for the last decade (even within the Church), procreation is the natural and primary end of marriage. I think one of the reasons the homosexual issue has gotten so difficult to discuss (and homosexuals within the Church are understandably confused) is because heterosexuals really do understand the marriage--like their secular counterparts--as primarily a matter spousal fulfillment. We have moved from (1) an overly-practical vision of marriage where procreation is considered its only end, to (2) a fuller vision where unity and procreation are both recognized as "primary" ends, to (3) an overly-romantic vision where unity is the only end (even if we still talk as if we believe #2).

If the end of Christian marriage is as it is popularly taught--to know God in a sacramental way through a unique, exclusive, sacrificial encounter with "the other" (one's spouse)--without reference to that relationship finding fruition in children and family, then homosexuals will naturally ask why they are being excluded? The answer is that marriage is, in fact, a natural institution with a natural end: procreation. If we embrace heterosexual sexual relations without reference to procreation, our attempts to exclude other non-procreative sexual relationships will seem arbitrary (for good reason).

As a sacrament, marriage (especially the unitive aspect) has been transformed and sanctified and can be a special avenue of grace. But to talk as if the unitive function is its primary purpose (somehow apart from procreation), is like saying that the primary purpose of a meal is fellowship (totally apart from sustenance). In either case one of those ends can be frustrated without undermining the authenticity of the undertaking (sustenance through illness or procreation trough infertility). But to approach either marriage or a meal without intending the proper end is to distort the endeavor altogether. It is to make it something other than it is.

Patricia Phillips said...

I'm concerned that Aaron has been reading and quoting James Alison. Alison is a self-confessed dissident, he does not accept Church teaching on homosexuality. He is part of the problem, not the solution.

Aaron S-C said...

Patricia Phillips said...

"I'm concerned that Aaron has been reading and quoting James Alison."

I'm not.

"Alison is a self-confessed dissident, he does not accept Church teaching on homosexuality."

Good. If I only read the hate-filled pages of Catholic bloggers on homosxuality I should probably want to go off to America and have myself cured.

"He is part of the problem, not the solution."

If you mean that Alison expresses a view beyond "it's disordered" then yes, you might well consider him part of the problem.

Even more interesting is how somebody warning other not to read James Alison is apparently so familiar with him! I really ought to return the compliment.

Catholic Taking Action said... Hey Father, check out the situation in Sydney Australia.

God bless!

Cosmos said...


My friend, I think you have to stop throwing out the word "hate." For a member of a protected class to label someone as "hateful" is an effective way in our culture not only to declare all discussion over but to intimidate. The fact is, homosexuals feel cornered and judged by Catholics and lash out from time to time, do they "hate" Catholics? Similarly, Catholics feel cornered and judged by the culture at large. They too lash out from time to time. It is a sign of how week they feel that they express their opinions on anonymous message boards.

That said, you wrote that "homosexuality is . . . often the outworking of a narrative of desire, longing, and affection towards the same sex: it is essentially the desire to find meaning and love except the object of one's affection is the same sex, not the opposite sex."

You seem to be asserting that homosexual love is not disordered since it aims at fulfillment of the same deep desire heterosexuals have. I hear what you are saying, and I certainly sympathize with that perspective. Nonetheless, I would contend that the idea that our longings can be fulfilled in the beloved is a Romantic, not Christian, idea.

As Christians, we acknowledge that those deep longings that reach beyond friendship--the desire to be totally known, totally understood, and totally embraced--point us towards God and only find their consummation in Heaven. While there is a tendency to speak of marriage as a foreshadowing of this fulfillment (as in the Theology of the Body), that view is certainly mystical and aspiration. It is not-- as many popular teachers sell many books discussing-- how every marriage should be experienced by all Christians who properly understand human intimacy. I know many people who are happily married, but not a single person who experiences their marriage this way as a fulfillment of their deepest longings (though I am sure someone on this blog does).

The medievals referred to this view, in a very exalted sense, as "romance." While romantic love is a beautiful; Christ taught us that the true foundation of friendship, and the basis for the marital bond, is mutual self-giving/laying down one's life for the other/sacrifice. That sacrifice has to actually occur in the mundane reality of our lives to be meaningful. In marriage, one vows to set aside his own desires in order to toil and labor, day after day, for the good of his spouse and the children to whom he must open himself. The sexual longing in marriage, separated from the emotional component you are speaking of, is (first and foremost) a desire to procreate, and so naturally reaches out towards the complimentary sex. While sex is also an expression and re-enforcing of the emotional union and intimacy that grows within a marriage which can be experienced very profoundly, that experience is not the basis or end of the relationship. The desire to experience the fulfillment of one's longing in the other, before heaven, will inevitably (and mercifully) be frustrated by God Himself. This frustration (misconstrued) also leads to many divorces.

I guess what I am getting at is same-sex relationships, rightly ordered, can only find their true meaning in friendship because what is beyond friendship is either rightly-oriented toward procreation, or towards God. While it is true that the desire for deepest fulfillment is not disordered, seeking its end in something other than God is really not a Christian's goal regardless of one's "orientation."

Yours in Christ.

Part-time Pilgrim said...


Thanks for your response. As to how to respond to rumours - well it depends on the source - things posted on internet blogs by people you don't know should be treated with caution. Statements by people who work at the hospital that you know and trust are a different matter - not rumours at all. I appreciate the sense of powerlessness you feel.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Aaron: What Patricia said was "reading AND quoting" James Allison. I think what she meant was that you were propagating his views. I do not think she was saying one should not read him. I have only read the odd snippet from him but it seemed to me to be fairly clear that he does not accept the Church's teaching and thinks homosexual sex is okay. Do you agree that that is what he says?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Cosmos: Is not the experience of falling in love actually seeing the image of God in another person and finding that very attractive? And perhaps eventually leading one towards God? Is that a romantic idea to be dismissed?

Cosmos said...


I would argue that while "falling in love [and] actually seeing the image of God in another person and finding that very attractive" should certainly not to be dismissed, it desperately needs to be re-contextualized. "Falling in love" is a profound emotional experience, but necessarily transitory. While that emotion can help us firm our resolve to start down a worthy path (committing to a spouse) it can't be pursued for itself. Beauty fades, children pre-occupy, tragedy occurs, life happens. As trite as it sounds, Christian love is a verb, it is a choice to serve through God's grace. Falling in love makes the choice to serve much easier at the beginning, but love must ultimately be chosen for its own sake.

I fear that we have begun to mystify our passions to an undeserved degree, probably in reaction to overly rational approaches. It can be helpful to talk about our deep psychological motivations, but I think it ultimately departs from both reality and traditional Christianity.

epsilon said...

Cosmos - I like your explanation.

Aaron - where is the hatred in fraternal correction?

Aaron S-C said...


So in other words you're saying that sex is only for married couples and that sex is never a proper mediation of love between same-sex couples? Yes I agree.

To be honest I have found your post somewhat unclear and I am not sure that we disagree. I have never tried to defend a view of same-sex relationships as having their 'end' in sex or a sexually physical relationship: I believe this to be preserved within marriage and naturally and properly tied to procreation.

I do however believe that same-sex couples can experience love between each-other that is profound and non-sexual. Look at David and Jonathan... David loved Jonathan as a mother loves her only child: can we even comprehend that sort of friendship?

I'm not fond of trying to "chop-up" love into discrete units, whilst I also wouldn't say that love is nothing more than a sort of emotional affect. There is such a thing as married love that is not reproducible between men, yes; however the distinction between "homo" and "hetero" love is very problematic: one's sexual preferences and persuasions have little to do with the kind of love one can experience.

Shall we continue this over e-mail?

Aaron S-C said...

I have been asked about my use of hatred, I quote:

Jeremiah Methuselah said...
Listen, some of you, it’s about the One, True, Holy, Eternal Catholic Mass, why don’t you get it ? We go to Mass SOLELY to worship Almighty God, not to be forced to listen to what looks like a Catholic priest droning on about “celebrating” sodomy and similarly-grouped deviations, plus genuine 100% weirdoes, men dressed in women’s clothing addressing the congregation from the altar for Goodness’ sake. What is the matter with you people ? Celebrating ??? That is fundamentally sick.

Dressing in women’s clothing is a perversion, did your parents not teach you that ? Normal people just do not do it, especially posturing and simpering like brazen, pantomime dames on the altar of a Catholic church during “Mass”. What’s next ? Don’t answer, please.

People with homosexual tendencies are to be pitied, sure, life is very difficult, join the club, but they are defo not to be celebrated.


This is a response from Fr. Tim's blog on the soho masses. Hate and prejudice should be called out for what it is.

Cosmos said...

You wrote, "Can we even comprehend that sort of friendship?" I agree that this kind of friendship is extremely rare, but it seems to me that it is still friendship, the highest kind where we are literally willing to lay down our life for the other.

Where friendship and marriage essentially differ is the permanent vow of exclusivity. Such a vow certainly changes the character of a relationship. But I am arguing that for a Christian the choice to enter this vow is not--at its heart--about fulfilling or expressing our deepest longings (though doubtlessly people experience it that way). Rather, it is a choice to follow the vocation that God has set out for us as husband and father. The marriage is about family.

The desire to find my deepest longings fulfilled in my wife (what I was calling Romantic love) is, in my opinion, disordered. Those deep longings point to God, and it is our sad lot to live with that hole in our hearts until heaven (God permitting). Human affections find their highest expression in friendship, not beyond.

euouae said...

'Yes he heals but his healing is little different from Mad Catholic's "cure", which is so redolent of electricity, hormones and even the knife.'
Father, I assume you meant to include the indefinite article before 'little'!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Oops, yes I did.

Aaron S-C said...

Cosmos said...
You wrote, "Can we even comprehend that sort of friendship?" I agree that this kind of friendship is extremely rare, but it seems to me that it is still friendship, the highest kind where we are literally willing to lay down our life for the other.

1. Yup. Amen to that.

Where friendship and marriage essentially differ is the permanent vow of exclusivity.

2. Hmmmm, really?

Look at 1 Sam 20:17 / 42. Jonathan loves David as he loves his own soul and they swear to love each-other forever. In 2 Sam 1:26 we hear that David considered their love to surpass even that of women.

This is not only one of the most beautiful, exalted friendships in Scripture, but it also is depicted as analogous to marriage in many respects...this is a profound friendship between brothers that is every bit as "permanent" as marriage. Thanks be to God for such beautiful friendships and may we aspire towards them!

Such a vow certainly changes the character of a relationship. But I am arguing that for a Christian the choice to enter this vow is not--at its heart--about fulfilling or expressing our deepest longings (though doubtlessly people experience it that way). Rather, it is a choice to follow the vocation that God has set out for us as husband and father. The marriage is about family.

The desire to find my deepest longings fulfilled in my wife (what I was calling Romantic love) is, in my opinion, disordered. Those deep longings point to God, and it is our sad lot to live with that hole in our hearts until heaven (God permitting). Human affections find their highest expression in friendship, not beyond.

3. Yer I completely agree. I would just argue that friendship can be every bit as exalted as marriage. In-fact there are strong arguments for this I believe... especially considering we read from Scripture that marriage doesn't exist in Heaven but, according to St. Anselm, friendship does. And indeed God Himself offers mankind friendship for salvation.

In-fact I have been meaning to ask Fr. Ray about his opinions on the nature of friendship...I have the feeling Fr. is a bit of an expert!

God bless you friend.

Cosmos said...

God bless!

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