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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?”

  • Liam Ronan

    With all due respect to Dr. Tina Beattie, her theological waffling serves only to confuse the faithful over a faux issue of which there ought be no doctrinal confusion whatsoever. 
    Well done Diocese of Clifton. We’ll have no weeds sown amongst the wheat today thank you very much, Professor.

  • Just_a_simpleton

    According to Prof. Beattie,  “there is a difference between taking a position as an individual theologian and addressing a diocesan event as a Catholic speaker.”

    No Prof Beattie, there isn’t. A theologian doesn’t lose his or her Catholic identity by being a theologian.  On the contrary, their acceptance of the Catholic faith should be the guide to their theology.  Of course, the Diocese of Clifton had to withdraw the invitation.  Given she is a known dissenter from Catholic teaching it is more of a wonder that any diocese would have invited her to speak in the first place.

  • 12Maria34

    Hooray for the Diocese of Clifton.  I have enough of these theologians who are imposing their views as super/best/supreme than the teaching of the magisterium. 

  • Alexander VI

    The reality is that behind closed  doors most priests and quite a few bishops  agree  with Beattie…..   

  • Ben Trovato

    If Professor Beattie doesn’t want to embarrass bishops (nor scandalise the faithful), perhaps she should practice orthodox theology: Faith seeking understanding; rather than pursue ‘progressive’ theology: striving to change the Faith…

  • teigitur

    “Catholic Professor Tina Beattie” I think not. If you have ever heard her on the radio or read her publications, no other conclusion can be reached than she is yet another cookoo in the nest. Certainly not Catholic.

  • teigitur

    Sadly, and almost uniquely, you are correct.

  • paulpriest

    We’re becoming all too familiar with this ‘role schizophrenia’ – where the diocesan/conference representative tows the party line when an official representative/delegate but in every other circumstance can say, write and do anything they bleeding well wish to…

    Don’t suppose any of you read “tina teaspoon’s” rant on the Tablet blogs re contraception and the divorce rate?
    Merely commenting on a blogpost seemed to make her far less inhibited in dismissal of Church teaching than her usual style of perfidious sneering guff where she claims the oppressed victimhood of the martyr fallacy yet appeals to the populace to endorse  the ‘last man standing’ fallacy of might and popular support equals moral right .

    Would to God someone could create a ‘church of the Church is wrong and latter day tabletists”

    …into which they could all proudly march and scream, denounce, engage in whatever shenanigans they desire with whomsoever or whatsoever whensoever…


  • paulpriest

     …and there you go again: Getting us confused with people who give a damn what these reprobates really think.

    We know what Church teaching is and if they can’t believe it or endorse it – well move aside for someone who does and will…

    This whole scenario reminds me of the Catholic Voices mob – where if any tough doctrinal or moral situation arises where the awkwardness of authentic Catholic teaching might make them seem media insensitive or intolerant…

    …they instead attempt to rewrite the teaching in their own desired ‘positive reframing’ revisionism [e.g. Church teaching on Civil Partnerships]

    and if a Catholic dares to say ‘that’s not true!’ because of X,Y and Z in Church teaching or directives…

    the response is..
    [and make a note of this - because it's an absolute DOOZIE]

    “…oh the Church/Vatican ‘hasn’t spoken” on the issue yet in this regard in these circumstances – so it’s all a matter of personal prudential judgment”

    One seriously couldn’t invent this crowd!

  • Basil Loftus

    Clifton diocese must surely be congratulated for promoting the cause of female ordination.

  • gentlemind

    “Fully informed consciences”, by definition, must have full knowledge of what a marriage is, why a marriage is what it is, what marriage does, how it does it, and why it does it. In other words, fully informed consciences, by definition, must know the physical impossiblity of marriage as anything other than a lifelong sexual union of one man and one woman.Why would such a conscience decide to do anything other than defend reality? Do academic theologians not have mirrors in their bathroom?

  • Benedict Carter

    For ” … deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition ….”,

    read, ” … deeply rooted in the neo-Modernsist-progressivist-New Pagan tradition established since Vatican II by so-called theologians who completely or partially reject the Catholic Faith but don’t have the balls or honesty to actually say so in the Prefaces to their books of Godforsaken maunderings because they like hob-nobbing with Bishops, other Catholics lapsed like themselves and important diocesan lay people with loud, hectoring voices and the theological principles of Mao-se-Tung. 

  • scary goat

     Welcome back mr. Carter.  Haven’t seen you for ages on here.

  • Basil Loftus

    Isn’t that a bit like welcoming the return of  Dr Frankenstein? 

  • Oconnord

    I have no previous knowledge of Pro. Beattie, so I don’t question your judgement. But in this particular case I think there was a “win/win”. There was a amicable, respectful and cordial resolution met. Both sides thought that the speaker was not “correct” for the lecture. 

    Though I have to admit, in the future, I will have to ask you how far you think a catholic theologian can question the church. And if questioning is the same as disobedience. 
    I think that has the making of a good thread, but a reply to a reply, is not the best place to start.    

  • crisg

    For all those people commenting on Tina’s inadequacy as a theologian and telling her to leave– listen to yourselves–are you sounding like the love of God seen in Jesus Christ? As St Paul says “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” A tree is known by its fruit and only when we exemplify love instead of words of attack will we truly be witnesses of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Eventhough Tina’s lecture has been cancelled she has not said any words of malice. It seems to me she is the one being more Christian.

  • Robert

    Maybe, but someone who teaches error again and again and seems to want to subvert the Truth is the very opposite of charity, much more a ravening wolf that tears at the flesh of Christ

  • Mark

    If the Biblical definition of marriage is wrong according to this heretic then on what basis can she assert that her view is right? We must stop accepting this relativistic nonsense where relativism is applied conveniently to discredit traditional ideas only to have radical feminist philosophy treated as if it were objective truth. Time to stand up against this nonsense and let them try to prove that they’re tight because in reality they are even more faith based than we are.

  • Benedict Carter

    Thanks Scary! I’ve been around in fact. 

  • GFFM

    No one would pay attention to Tina Beattie if she did not claim to be Catholic. She claims she is Catholic, but the claim is not backed up by any allegiance to any Church moral teaching whatsoever. She is clever; and I would bet she knew full well that her appearance would be, shall we say, controversial. All I can say is that the bishop is completely within his rights. She can spew the liberal party line every day from her parasitical perch within the Church and in her role as professor at Roehampton. As for her moniker as “CAtholic theologian”; she has no real credentials to be given that title. The proverbial empress has no clothes.

  • crisg

    Like I said just listen to how we speak about each other. No wonder some people think religion does nothing except create wars and hypocrites.

  • Sweetjae

    Probably you’re  right…though I would say very, very few priest and much lower to bishops who are just homosexual themselves trying to justify their flawed position….we have the Magisterum, Pope, CCC and the Chuch so I think we are in good hands.

  • Gildaswiseman

    We should not forget that as orthodox Catholics  we are part of the Church Militant. When theologians like Professor Beattie argue against the perennial teaching of the Church we have a divine mandate to correct them. Of course this should be achieved in a spirit of charity. however their pernicious teaching may very well lead weaker souls astray. So, we should also argue emphatically and with passion. Never should we lose sight of the cross and the agony that Christ endured for us and the truth of the faith he instituted on earth. Wars, my dear fellow, are a result of a fallen human nature and occur within the entire spectrum of human experience. “Religious wars” are usually about greed and power.Sometimes they are justified in order to defend the faith from attack. The saving of souls for eternal life is what this is all about.

  • teigitur

    Welcome back Damo were you on holiday?
     Ah Prof Beattie. Well an unusual case in that the Lady is a convert. It is unusual for them to be at odds with the Church as much as she is.She is also a Scot!! But can hardly be called a faithful daughter of the Church.She is actually very nice to talk to and very bright, but very misled.
     Of course everyone, not just theologians can and must question the Church. But there are some areas that are core and fundamental. If you do not get those, the RCC is not the one for you, and you would probably be better off in another, closer to your beliefs.

  • Robert

    The hypocrite is Ms Beattie, who claims to be a Catholic but shows no sign of it in any of her teachings or writings.
    She invents her own Magisterium, sets herself up against Pope and bishops, against Councils and Tradition. She contradicts the mission of the Church, causes scandal and confusion amongst the faithful.
    Would Jesus tolerate this, would St Paul, would any of the Fathers of the Church?
    Can any of her propositions be found in any of the ancient Churches?

    crisg, you are right, “religion” certainly Catholicism and Orthodoxy makes war on such hypocrites.

  • teigitur

    He he; Pot, Kettle and a very dark colour!!

  • teigitur

    Well said Robert.

  • Cjkeeffe

    Ms Beattie has never been a Catholic Theolgian in the sense of a theologian who actually articluates the teachings of the Church, she has always articulated the doctorines of the Church of Ms Beattie. During the Holy Fathers State Visit the BBC gave her air time to preach her doctorines. Her colum in the Tablet is full of her own truths (bearing no relation to those of the Church). So the real question is not, that the bishop withdrew her invitation to lecture, but that an invitation to represent a catholic diocese was granted in the first instance.

  • Cjkeeffe

    Yes Clifton must be congratulated in leading souls astray!

  • paulpriest

    What makes you think I’m/We’re being ‘unloving’?
    I really like Ms Beattie – more than a lot of associates whom I’d consider to be orthodox Catholics.
    She’s witty, incisive, has some degree of acuity, a common-sense sincerity and is affable with it…


    Repeatedly wrong – on such a vast array of doctrinal, moral, historical, canonical and social/liturgical Catholic teaching and praxis that it is becoming far from tenable for ANY of Tablet editorial staff or contributors to be considered remotely Catholic.

    …and it’s not merely that they’re wrong – it’s the interminably perfidious Pope/Church/Orthodoxy bashing using every form of fallacy, sophistry, duplicity, misrepresentation of events/means/motives/aims/ends/historical coercions/dismissals and revisionisms.

    Dostoyevsky said there is nothing so pure, good, beautiful or true under Heaven that cannot become debased by the human intellect and will and portrayed in an evil light

    So tell me one issue – and I seriously mean a single issue within Catholicism – which the Tablet hasn’t dismissed, repudiated, denied, smeared, maliciously, mendaciously misrepresented?

    How many renegades/defiantly disobedient/blatantly heterodox/desecrators of Catholic teaching on Life, Love & Sexuality – how many have been turned into heroes/martyrs of the revolution?!!

    How many of those narcissistic clerics, quangocrats, commentators who have wrought chaos, dissent and anarchy with their vanity exercises – are beatified [or Beattie-fied?] as great visionaries with principles?

    ..and how many…for the outrageous crime of being orthodox or obedient or in Communion with His Holiness……are treated with contempt, derision, ridicule, sneering dismissal or posturing pharisaical denunciation?

    This is war – life and death can be the result – flourishment vs destruction – beauty vs a degrading ‘pornification’ – Truth versus incessant lies, calumnies,revisionisms, counterfactuals and the evisceration of any intellectual integrity scandalising and pushing away those whom have felt inspired to seek out further understanding of their Faith or the ‘morally analgesic’ issues involved.

    So when it comes to Ms Beattie?
    Lovely – but lethal…

    If she can’t be a Catholic she should stop pretending she is in a public forum.
    She fails to realise that she can’t make the Church in her own image and likeness – so at present all she – and all the Tablet crowd – can do is make every attempt to undermine Holy Mother Church at every opportunity…

    ..and we’re sick of it – especially when Conference/Charities/Dioceses AND NEWSPAPERS [hint-hint!] give them any credence and bestow on them official highly paid roles or executive apostolic roles or positions where they are a delegated voice for the Faithful or Church hierarchy…

    It has to stop.

  • AnthonyPatrick

     Well said, paulpriest.

  • teigitur


  • Nat_ons

    Among those are areas already clearly defined, even according to the ordinary teaching authority of the bishop, i.e. those whom theologians are called to help (not hinder) in witnessing the Faith.

    Even in that area the theologian has ample room to explore ways of implementing what is clearly defined .. without causing grief to the bishop or harm to the souls in his care.

    Thus acutely thoughtful pastoral care among marginalised and despised souls is a prophetic call not a political soap box; more bishops need to recall this and theologians respect it.

  • Basil Loftus

    I’m sure that the Bishop knows best.

  • Tom Jones

    Good for you,Tina Beattie. Ignore the ignorant un Christian bigotry expressed by some of the comments on this thread.

  • gabriel_syme

    Delighted to hear of Beattie getting her marching orders.

    Too many “journalists” and “theologians” pretend to be Catholics in order to create easy careers for themselves by continually and publicly undermining Catholic values and opinion.

    That hirstute fop, Peter Stanford, is another.

    Anyway, good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • scary goat

     Well, I don’t always agree with everything mr. Carter says, but he certainly has a very solid knowledge, and he was always a regular contributor here, and his posts are always thought provoking.  I think he deserves a welcome back.

  • Benedict Carter

    Hi Tom: “Ignorant un-Christian bigotry”, eh?

    Is that one of your hits from the 1960′s?

  • Benedict Carter

    Hi Crisg! Still on that dodgy baccy you brought back from the ‘Nam?

  • Pamelapentlow

    What a ridiculous collection of comments!

    Apart from Tom -

    “Good for you Tina Beattie”

    and Alexander V1

    “The reality is that behind closed doors most priests and quite a few bishops agree with Beattie…”

    the rest are utterly blind to reality. This Catholic theologian speaks the language of the real Church – the people in the pews.

    This nonsense has robbed people of the chance to hear a fine lecture.

  • Cjkeeffe

    Not if he is launching is boat into waters that contradict established church teachings, assuming your catholic I would assume you would know that. Only a Bishop who is in commuhnion with the Pope and other bishops in communion with the pope can have any claim to “I’m sure that the bishop knows best”.
    The bishop has to satisfy the divine judge on their death, if asked have you embraced and promoted church teaching and unity in the church, by cooperating in the Petrine ministry to feed my lambs feed my sheep. Or have you done your own thing? Promting something that the supreme auhrotity in teh chuirch has said it has no power to do strikes me as doing your own thing and not feeding my sheep!

  • Mark

    The TABLET will be publishing it anyhow in due course. More people will know of its content compared with the original limited audience in Clifton Diocese. Another example of the law of “unintended consequences.”

  • Pamelapentlow

    “Lovely – but lethal”

    Yes lethal to hypocrisy and uncaring ignorance.

    Tina Beattie has done more for the Catholic Church than your verbosity ever could.

  • Aidan Coyle

    ‘That hirsute fop, Peter Stanford’. Love it. If I were the admirable Mr S., I’d have that printed on a T-shirt.

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    Coming from you BC that’s not unusual …

  • paulpriest

     If you replaced the ‘for’ with a ‘to’ then I’ll agree with you…

    Her poisonous posturing perfidies are phenomena with which we could all do well without…

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    I have to admit Tina is gorgeous to look at. It’s baffling that someone so beautiful should be into feminism. A tragedy all around.

  • paulpriest

     More people will get to read it in the Tablet than the original  hall-sized audience?

    Mark one could fit the entire readership of the Tablet into the back of a Ford Fiesta and still have enough room for cooking & toilet facilities, a widescreen TV and for there to be a guest appearance re-enactment of the “Fall of Sodom and Gomorrah” as performed by the Budleigh Salterton senior-citizens liturgical dance troupe…

  • Basil Loftus

    I expect that Lucifer also has a very solid knowledge and he certainly contributes in a thought provoking way!

  • Basil Loftus

    Are you alluding to the pastoral ministry of the Bishop?

    I can assure you that he has an excellent record.

    One only has to visit Bristol’s Clifton Cathedral and see how the choir master (who the bishop introduced) has made the choir the focal point of the Mass.

    Its so edifying to watch and hear such splendid musicians during Sunday Mass.