Confraternity of Catholic Clergy: Pastors must speak clearly & unambiguously in order that faith be strengthened and confusion avoided.




The British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a group of over 500 priests in England and Wales, has issued a statement concerning marriage and family life following the release of excerpts from the documentary 'Francesco.' The statement is a simple re-statement of Catholic teaching, including the necessity of sensitivity and compassion when dealing with sensitive and difficult issues, however it balances this compassionate approach with the need for the Church to teach the truth that the normalisation of same-sex relationships harms individuals, damages marriage and society at large.

As I have long thought - this is important stuff that the Church has consistently held and taught and cannot be diminished in an off-hand comment. To do so is - at best - extremely irresponsible, not least because, as head of the Catholic Church, one would hope the Pope had some inkling that at least a few people know what the Church teaches and maybe even follow it? So what about all those people who have followed Church teaching, perhaps at great personal cost? Like those who have avoided remarriage or refrained from receiving the Blessed Sacrament because of an irregular relationship, their efforts are cast on the dung-heap by this lackadaisical pontiff.

This is an issue that cannot be stressed too forcefully, because the Church either needs to be confident and consistent when playing around with the most delicate parts of people's lives and families or it needs to SHUT UP!!!

The statement pre-empts any comments from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales (not surprisingly) and cleverly quotes the bishops' own statement from 2005 which affirms Church teaching. No doubt the confraternity have worked out that the useless bishops will want to serve the master of their own ambition rather than the Church and won't want to upset the Pope, lest he forgets them and fails to reward them as he has blatantly just done by awarding red hats to the contemptible Grech, Wilton and Semeraro. Hopefully, getting the bishops own words out there will prevent any obvious hypocrisy from them, which I have no doubt they are completely capable of and likely itching to do!

Notwithstanding, I have no doubt that the few good bishops we have (+Keenan, +Davies, +Egan, +Swarbrick & (I hope) +Byrne) will find being put in such an excruciating position extremely uncomfortable: literally between a pope and a hard place. They will likely be at loggerheads with the rest and they all need our prayers.

The statement ends with this excellent paragraph, which emphasises the precise point I have been making since the Pope's comments:
It is also necessary for pastors of souls – again following the example of St John Paul II - to speak clearly and unambiguously when dealing with these often difficult and controversial subjects, in order that faith be strengthened and confusion avoided.
The full statement is as follows:

Statement of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy concerning marriage and family life

In recent days, following the release of excerpts from the documentary ‘Francesco’, there has been much discussion – and confusion - concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding the legalisation of same-sex unions and the adoption of children by same-sex couples. In this context, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy - representing over 500 priests in Great Britain and with members throughout the world - desires to reassert its commitment to authentic Catholic teaching on human sexuality and the family.

First, it is important to state that pastoral charity demands sensitivity to all, and no unjust discrimination towards individuals with same-sex attraction (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357). The same charity, however, demands that the Church and society discourage same-sex activity, and the normalisation of same-sex relationships, as harmful to individuals and damaging to marriage. The Church’s official teaching on these matters is clearly expressed in the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Per-sons.(CDF 2003). Here we read: ‘The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions’ (CDF 2003, 11).

The Church has an obligation not only to protect Christian marriage but also to support the Natural Law which is valid for all people at all times. Thus, the Church has a duty to uphold monogamous Marriage between the two sexes, open to life and built on love, as the foundation of society. The promotion of civil same-sex unions would ‘not promote the common good’ and ‘there is a real danger that the deeply rooted understanding of marriage as a permanent and exclusive relationship between a woman and a man, and as the best con-text for raising children, will be eroded’ (Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, Statement on Civil Partnerships, 2005)

The reality of the natural family, founded on the union of man and wife, holds a unique position and is alone in deserving state encouragement. While for a variety of reasons children may sometimes find themselves without one of both of their parents, and in such situations deserve the utmost support and loving care, a good society should not seek to generate situations where the complementarity of male and female parents is absent. Such an endeavour is particularly harmful and therefore immoral. (cf. CDF 2003, 7).

St John Paul II wrote extensively on these matters and commented that ‘civilisation passes by way of the family’. It is the duty of the clergy, the faithful and indeed all people of good will, to speak the truth about marriage and human sexuality and to resist all attempts to undermine, dilute or derail their importance. ‘The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself’ (CDF 2003, 11).

It is also necessary for pastors of souls – again following the example of St John Paul II - to speak clearly and unambiguously when dealing with these often difficult and controversial subjects, in order that faith be strengthened and confusion avoided.


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