Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pendergast on dissent by priests

Briefing. Martin Pendergast is a well-know 'gay' activist who read a statement condemning the Bishops' opposition to the Sexual Orientation Regulations at the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement's conference, whose banner proclaimed Pope Benedict XVI to be a 'homophobe.' He nevertheless keeps in with the liberals among the clergy and tells us that many of them are prepared to violate Church law by blessing immoral relatioships.

In a comment on an on-line article by Austin Ivereigh, he writes: It should be pointed out that Austin Ivereigh's opinions represent his own personal prejudices. In spite of his previous career in high ecclesiastical places, not all UK Catholics would agree with his analysis. It is quite disingenuous to suggest that ''a Catholic priest who defied the rules of the Church like this would be simply removed from his parish by his bishop.''

Following the UK Civil Partnerships' legislation a number of couples have held celebratory liturgies in Catholic churches. These have included Masses of Thanksgiving and Services of Prayer and Blessing. These may well have been private occasions, but there has often been some recognition within the parish context of such events taking place.

When my partner and I celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our relationship in 2001 with a Mass of Thanksgiving, while the two Catholic bishops who were due to preside were requested not to by the local Ordinary, interestingly as a result of a breach of our privacy by The Daily Telegraph newspaper, the priest who stepped in suffered no such recriminations. When we celebrated our Civil Partnership in 2006 with a Liturgy of Midday Prayer in our parish, again no penalties were enacted either against the presiding priest, or the homilist, or our parish priest at the time. Indeed on the Sunday after, our names were included in the list of intercessions at Mass.

Instead of ''swirling tides of disintegration'' LGBT people, their pastors and families, are delighted that the vast majority of people in the pews, across many mainstream Churches, have enough common sense, commitment to justice, and not least Christian faith to recognise love when they see it and support it being celebrated.

As Ivereigh points out in reply to this comment, Pendergast is confusing wedding ceremonies with blessings and Masses of thanksgiving. A wedding service offered by a Catholic priest would probably stimulate a serious disciplinary response from the bishop. But Penergast is right that short of this priests get away with promoting, celebrating and supporting civil partnerships and the immoral relationships they formalise, contrary to Church teaching and the law of the Church. The Pope has personally condemned same-sex unions.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen