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English bishop cancels lecture by theologian who argued for same-sex marriage

By on Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Diocese of Clifton has cancelled a lecture which was due to be delivered by the Catholic Professor Tina Beattie as a result of her support for legalising same-sex marriage.

The professor at the University of Roehampton was scheduled to deliver a talk on “Mary: Mother of God and a model of a pilgrim people – Lumen Gentium’” but a recent update to the online programme stated that the talk for later this month was cancelled without elaboration.

A statement from Clifton diocese clarified Professor Beattie would no longer be speaking on behalf of the diocese. A spokesman for the diocese said: “Over the course of the last year, Clifton diocese has put on a series of different lectures to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

“Subjects have included among others; ‘A Word for life – Dei Verbum’, ‘For the life of the world: Vatican II and the mission of the Church today – Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes’ and ‘A Church reaching out to other faiths and to people of good will – Nostra Aetate and Dignitatis Humanae’.

“Speakers have included Bishop Declan Lang; Fr James Hanvey SJ, Fr Timothy Menezes, Professor Paul Murray and Professor Gavin D’Costa.

“In September 2011, Professor Tina Beattie was invited to speak on ‘Mary: Mother of God and a model of a pilgrim people – Lumen Gentium’.

“In the light of the controversy over a recent letter which appeared in the Times, signed by Professor Beattie and 27 others, about proposals to extend marriage to same-sex partnerships, in discussion with Professor Beattie, Clifton Diocese has decided to cancel the lecture.”

Prof Tina Beattie said: “I was delighted and privileged to be asked to contribute to this distinguished series of lectures, and I was deeply saddened when the lecture was cancelled. However, I understand that this was a difficult and painful decision, and I accept the reasons for it.

“I was one of 27 Catholic signatories to a letter published in the Times on Monday, August 13, which suggested that “it is perfectly proper for Catholics, using fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples”. The letter did not commit any of the signatories to a position for or against same-sex civil marriage. Rather, it was putting across a reasoned argument as to why there are sound principles for Catholics in good conscience to take a number of different views on social policy issues such as same-sex civil marriage, even if these do not agree with the position stated by the hierarchy.”

She continued: “As a result of my signing that letter, I understand that representations were made to Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton diocese by various parties, which resulted in the cancellation of my lecture. While standing by the contents of the letter, I deeply regret any personal embarrassment I may have caused Bishop Declan. He is a wise and pastorally sensitive leader who has earned the respect of many of us in his diocese, and I hope that I shall be able to continue to contribute towards the educational life of the diocese as I have for many years.

“As an academic theologian and a practising Catholic I try to maintain a difficult but important balancing act – deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition – between upholding the revealed doctrinal truths which are part of the timeless and unchanging mystery of our faith, and entering into reasoned and informed debates about issues of morality, society and values which are contingent and capable of being adapted to different cultures and contexts. I do not believe that an informed theological contribution to issues of public interest is detrimental to the interests of the Church. On the contrary, I believe such debate bears witness to the theological vigour and social dynamism of Catholic Christianity, and allows us to draw on a long and rich intellectual tradition to play an active role in society today.

“However, as Cardinal Martini observed in his final interview before his death, ‘In the Church today I see so much ash covering the embers that I’m often overcome by a sense of impotence’. The cardinal also warned that ‘the Church must recognise her own errors and must pursue a radical path of change’, which includes ‘Questions about sexuality and about all the themes connected to the human body … We have to ask ourselves if people are still listening to the advice of the Church regarding sexuality. Is the Church still an authoritative point of reference in this field or is it just a caricature in the media?’

“My willingness to sign the letter to the Times was motivated by such concerns, but I am well aware that there is a difference between taking a position as an individual theologian and addressing a diocesan event as a Catholic speaker. I would never abuse the hospitality and trust of the Bishop by raising potentially divisive questions in such a context, even although the same questions might be perfectly legitimate and indeed important to debate in different contexts.”

The letter appeared in the Times and stated: “Sir, Not all Catholics share their hierarchy’s stated views against proposals to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples. Nevertheless, the submission by the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales to the Government’s equal civil marriage consultation indicates a growing understanding about legislating for same-sex unions, compared with its 2003 position, when it firmly opposed civil partnerships.”

The letter went on to argue that the late Cardinal Hume stated that love between the opposite sexes and the same sexes was to be “treasured and respected.”

It continued: “This respect demands that such loving relationships be afforded social recognition according to social justice principles. He proposed three criteria for considering issues of social policy: are there reasonable grounds for judging that the institution of marriage and the family could, and would be undermined by a change in law? Would society’s rejection of a proposed change be more harmful to the common good than the acceptance of such a change?

“Does a person’s sexual orientation or activity constitute, in specific circumstances, a sufficient reason for treating that person in any way differently from other citizens?”

  • Anglican

    100% right to cancel.  Marriage was very clearly designated as the union of a man and a woman. FULL STOP.

  • Jon Brownridge

     With respect, Benedict, a theologian’s function id to ‘question’ the content of the faith.

  • Cjm1957

    There’s no such organisation as the Roman Catholic Church. It is simply the Catholic Church. The Creed does not include the word ‘Roman’ nor will you find any reference to the Roman Catholic Church in documents issued by either the First Vatican Council or the Second Vatican Council. I consider myself a Christian first (a follower of Christ) in the Catholic tradition.

  • Ben Trovato

    It all depends what you mean by ‘question.’ 

    Question in order to understand better, yes (faith seeking understanding); question as in ‘call into question’, no.

  • Pcl3690

    Very true..however one might try to defile the definition of marriage by bringing same-sex marriage into it, marriage is union between a man and a woman, as defined hereto by the civilized world and spiritual advisers… anything other than that, marriage between same sex, (may be a time will come defining it even as union of man or woman with animal too), is the Sodom-Gomorrah attitude which will lead to death and spiritual destruction. One just cannot redefine a Sacrament so solemn as marriage as per one’s own whims and fancies. If same sex marriage is right and justified, then our children should be given the right to do anything that they want, whether in public or in private… nobody has the right to stop them. We all cannot be judges, leave spiritual matters that matter to the souls, to the spiritual leaders who are better judges in such matters. You cannot receive anything unless given from God above, and those manipulated teachings from disoriented attitudes come from the evil one below.

  • Patrickhowes

    SmartArse-Prepare to enjoy a lesson of Humility.NOTE BENE.I quote:

    “The name “Catholic Church” is the most common designation used in official church documents.[22] It is also the term which Paul VI used when signing documents of the Second Vatican Council.[23] However, Church documents produced by both the Holy See[24] and by certain national episcopal conferences[25] occasionally refer to theRoman Catholic Church. The Catechism of Pope Pius X published in 1908 also used the term “Roman” to distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian communities who are not in full communion with Rome.[26]

  • Patrickhowes

    As the saying goes”Those who cannot do teach.Here´s some more facts for your education:

    “For the first thousand years of Christianity there was no “Roman Catholicism” as we know it today, simply because there was no Eastern Orthodoxy or Protestantism to distinguish it. There was only the “one, holy, catholic church” affirmed by the early creeds, which was the body of Christian believers all over the world, united by common traditions, beliefs, church structure and worship (catholic simply means “universal”). Thus, throughout the Middle Ages, if you were a Christian, you belonged to the Catholic Church. Any Christianity other than the Catholic Churchwas a heresy, not a denomination.
    Today, however, Roman Catholicism is not the only accepted Christian church. Thus to be a Roman Catholic means to be a certain kind of Christian: one with unique beliefs, practices and traditions that are distinct from those of other Christians. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church continues to maintain that it alone has carried on the true tradition of the apostolic church and has traditionally regarded dissenting groups as heresies, not alternatives (Martin Luther was swiftly excommunicated). However, the recent Second Vatican Council declared all baptized Christians to be “in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” {1}
    Although it did not begin at a specific point in history like the Protestant denominations, in its long history Roman Catholicism has evolved into a distinctive branch of Christianity with beliefs, practices and organization that differ from both Protestantism and Orthodoxy.

  • Patrickhowes

    19 April 2005
    Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;habemus Papam:
    Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,Dominum JosephumSanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzingerqui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI

  • JabbaPapa

    This is rubbish — see Patrickhowes below, for starters…

    In fact, the phrase “Catholic Church” has at least three particular meanings.

    1) It can refer to the Universal Church of the Saved

    2) It can refer, as you suggest, to the entirety of specifically Catholic Christianity, which is inclusive of more than just those who are in full communion with Rome (but exclusive of such non-Catholic religions as Anglicanism etc)

    3) It can refer to the specific *Roman* organisation of Catholic Christianity in Communion with our visible Earthly Church

  • JabbaPapa

    A Catholic theologian’s function is in fact to defend, proclaim, and investigate the Doctrine of the Faith as a manifestation in this world of Revelation.

    Your own definition is the one that is provided instead by Protestantism.

  • Rebekah Okeeffe

    Thank you for this. I have just come across this blog and I am blown away by the sheer venom in these responses. I can not understand how in this day and age we still think it is ok to attack the person rather than the comment. The derision illustrated here is illuminating.

  • Rebekah Okeeffe

    Such sweeping statements. Can you reference any of them?

  • Rebekah Okeeffe

    unbelievably misogynistic. Would this comment be made of a male theologian I wonder?

  • Rebekah Okeeffe
    This is the link to Tina’s Lecture. Thought provoking and excellently written, not heretical, not a platform for women priests and certainly not undermining the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church in any way.

  • KJUYggtr

    At least have the decency to state that you pliagiarized from another news website, word by word

  • Johnjohns

    Couldn’t agree more Rebekah
    I expect there would have been a presentation of the paintings to accompany the lecture.
    An opportunity missed.

  • Johnjohns

    When you read the lecture the sense of disappointment and injustice grows that the CDF and the diocese cancelled it on the 18th.

  • JabbaPapa

    Tina :

    the Second Vatican Council was not an event but the beginning of
    a process

    Good old “spirit of the Council” eh ?

    a letting go of old familiar practices and habits

    … and let’s stuff the Tradition !!!

    The Council opened the windows of the Church to let a fresh
    wind blow through the dusty corridors and neglected corners of this ancient
    tradition, but we are still on a journey of discovery

    No comment :-(

    we face challenging questions about how to interpret
    these doctrinal bonds in the context of our lives and experiences

    In fact, the truly challenging questions are about how to interpret our lives and experiences in the light of doctrine and Revelation.

    She has it all backwards — in the manner of a protestantism.

    In the Council, the Church embraced her vocation to read the
    signs of the times and to incarnate the eternal truths entrusted to her in ways
    that would be relevant to the different contexts and cultures within which she
    finds herself. She refused to be an other-worldly ghetto for pure souls, but
    rather sought to become a space of messy encounter between the transcendent
    and eternal wisdom of God, and the embodied realities of the human condition in
    all its complexity, grace and muddle. This is the meaning of incarnation and

    I will not comment on her view of the sacramental, but this is a completely false presentation of the nature of the relationship between the Faith and our own incarnations.

    What she is saying is, in brief, identical to the nature of incarnation for every created human soul, and it has nothing specific about it nor that is unique to Catholic Christianity only.

    Even atheism is “a space of messy encounter between the transcendent
    and eternal wisdom of God, and the embodied realities of the human condition in
    all its complexity, grace and muddle” !!!

    This view of hers is an attempt to relativise the specificity of the Revelation itself into nothing.

    It constitutes a direct assault upon the very Holiness of God.

    young Catholics who might never
    have heard of Vatican II, who might have drifted away from the Church because
    they find many of its teachings irrelevant or incoherent in the context of
    their lives


    I see, so “many” of the teachings of the Church are “irrelevant or incoherent” … :-(

    No, Tina — the young who might believe any such nonsense are those who have suffered from the disastrous catechism that those such as yourself have provided them with.

    The late Archbishop Derek Worlock once asked if the
    Council’s abandonment of the language of Holy Mother Church in favour of the
    more democratising language of the pilgrim people of God entailed the loss of
    some vital dimension of the Catholic faith. People across the Catholic spectrum
    are beginning to ask themselves the same question. We are heirs to an enduring
    mystery that has inspired some of the greatest art, music and devotional
    expressiveness of western culture, and this mystery struggles to find
    expression in the context of the more rationalised and pared-down rites and
    devotions of the postconcilar Church. The challenge that presses upon us with
    ever greater urgency and conflict is how to nurture anew that sense of mystery
    and mysticism, allowing it to re-emerge without diminishing the vocation to reasoned debate
    about ethics and politics, and without neglecting the call to participate in
    society and culture which is part of responsible citizenship and enshrined
    within the social teachings of the Church.

    This, however, is spot on.

    I believe that this renewal can come about through a
    rediscovery of the maternal, Marian Church, but there is a risk that
    this will
    become an exercise in nostalgia and infantilization. Mother Church can
    too easily offer a retreat from the world
    into a romantic and highly stereotypical view of a maternal feminine
    which alienates rather than accommodates many modern people,
    many women
    . This has already begun to happen in some of the more
    Marian devotions and enthusiasms that have emerged in recent years,
    which are often closely associated with defending a particular brand of
    Catholicism that invites no debate, dialogue or philosophical reflection

    on questions of the Church’s social teachings and moral theology. Such
    devotions which produce closed minds and angry hearts are expressions of
    mystification rather than mysticism
    . Mysticism invites. Mystification
    bullies. Mysticism says yes. Mystification says no. Mysticism is about
    Mystification is about silencing.

    Oh, but it was just a “clever” rhetorical means to introduce this feminist modernist agenda, wasn’t it.

    1) The nature of Revelation is to be non-debatable

    2) The modernist and feminist presentation of its ideal of womanhood is incredibly romantic and massively stereotypical

    3) To accuse the Tradition of the Church as a “mystification” is near-heretical

    4) And yes Tina, there is a risk of “nostalgia and infantilization” — but it resides in your nostalgia for the infantile teachings of the 1960s in general

    In modernity, Mary has lost her ability to communicate the
    visceral potency and materiality of the incarnation. She has become sanitised and
    romanticised, an expression of an eternal feminine ideal that has far more to
    do with modern romanticism than with incarnational Catholicism. She drifts into
    heaven as a young girl remote from all the reality of human experience, lacking
    even the child in her arms to root her in the fleshy mystery of the incarnate
    God. She is an object of mystification rather than an opening into mystery.

    Thus speaks one who has not seen the Virgin.

    Mary is not an ideal, or a concept to be manipulated for any kind of political reasons, nor is the Virgin the subject of any such worldly philosophising that masquerades as a theology.

    Saint Mary is a living person, connecting us through her Holy Sainthood with the all-encompassing Bounty of God.

    Yes, she is an ideal of Catholic womanhood — but so are the hundreds of other women Saints of our Church !!!

    Tina is attempting to reduce the Virgin into Tina’s own flawed nature, rather than simply letting the Virgin call her up from these petty, material, human concerns about petty, material things into the contemplation and worship of God — God, who remains the singular and only purpose of the Catholic Faith in its entirety.

    Tina goes on to say a few good things about the spirituality of Marian devotion, but then :

    Joseph is the man who agrees to become the father of the fatherless
    child. He is the model for every man who is willing to let go of all the
    old patriarchal hierarchies and dominations in order to enter into
    vulnerable relationships of love and tenderness, in which fatherhood is
    not a question of biology and insemination but of care, compassion and
    wonder in the face of the child who asks to be loved. It is this
    response to the child’s need that makes Joseph his father, and it is his
    response to Mary’s trust and faith that makes him her husband. This
    marriage is not defined in terms of sex and procreation, but in terms of
    mutual fidelity to God and to one another, and of each helping the
    other to become who he or she is called to be in the unique vocation
    that God offers to every human being. Here, Joseph cradles the infant
    Christ and gazes on his face in wonder and love, while Mary reads a book
    in bed!

    Again with the bloody feminist politics !!!

    I mean cripes !!!

    In fact, Joseph’s behaviour towards his wife and Son is the very model of a properly orthodox and patriarchal Jewish husband and father.

    He protects Mary, and her Son, and her mother, with that masculine authority, and he provides for them with that authority, and he teaches his Son the Christ the Torah and the Law and the Faith and his trade and how to be a man of his time.

    Joseph is NOT some sort of feminised metrosexual submitting himself entirely to the selfish demands of 21st century feminist egotism.

    Tina understands only the beginnings of Catholic womanhood, so that it is completely unsurprising that she should be so entirely clueless about the nature of Catholic manhood !!!

    Mary holds her baby in the most tender of maternal embraces, but her
    face tells us of the fragility and woundedness of love as well as its
    grace and joy. Like every mother, she knows that her love must be a
    process of letting go, of learning to be there without control or
    , without determining the future of this child she has borne.
    Every loving relationship needs to learn this combination of tender
    holding and letting go, of being there for the other but also creating
    space for the other to be, whatever the cost.

    Again, Tina is just pandering to the self-centered egotism of the 1960s.

    NO !!! The Education of the young must necessarily include some elements of both control and domination.

    And in fact, the Gospels illustrate very clearly that Joseph and Mary provided both of these for their Son.

    This is an astonishing picture. Mary collapses in despair over the body
    of her Son, held up by the arms of the beloved disciple who turns to God
    in confusion and maybe even in accusation. God appears remote and
    almost indifferent, peering down from heaven at a scene in which he
    seems to play no part. But if we want to see God, we must recognize that
    the body of wounded love at the feet of Mary is where God is to be
    found. The bearded man in the sky is a fiction and a fantasy of a God
    who is absolutely other than the God revealed in Jesus Christ
    . Here, in
    the crucified God laid out upon the earth which he himself created, we
    see how far love is willing to go in order to convince us that God is
    with us, not up there and gazing down in tyrannical indifference, but
    intimately united with us in the suffering of Christ and the desolation
    of his Mother. In the space between heaven and earth, angels throng
    unseen, vividly depicted here in blue and gold, weaving together heaven
    and earth on the loom of hope.

    Oh FFS her misunderstanding of iconography is massive !!!

    The bearded Man in the sky is in fact a representation of the Christ resurrected in Heaven, and revealed as the very Person of God !!!

    “gazing down in tyrannical indifference” indeed !!!!!

    Why doesn’t she just write down “I hate men” instead ?

  • JabbaPapa

    Reading it provides me with a sense of relief and divine justice that these near-heretical teachings were not given such an official platform for their propagation.

  • Lazylyn

    Yes. ! I read Tina’s article this morning and thought ‘ well Tina you are very clever but you have missed the point – that Our Lady is a part of the communion of Saints who are very much with us and she is our Mother who loves us so much !

  • JabbaPapa

    A fairly decent critique of Professor Beattie can be found here (rather surprisingly — don’t be put off by the URL) :

  • Lazylyn

    Tina criticises ‘ ….some of the more flamboyant Marian devotions and enthusiasms that have emerged in recent years’ .  I would like her to give specific examples of these – unfortunately she is not taking comments and does not want any debate ! 

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    No, only a female.

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    He could at least have had the decency to plagiarise something worth reading. I wasted two seconds on my life on it.

  • KJUYggtr

    Who and and WHY pliagiarized what, I don’t follow your plea to decency. Another two seconds wasted