Sat 1st Nov 2014 | Last updated: Fri 31st Oct 2014 at 16:19pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Latest News

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?”

  • Benedict Carter

    ” … has made the choir the focal point of the Mass.”

    I thought God was supposed to be the focal point of Mass. 

  • Basil Loftus

    I’m sure that the Bishop is aware of that and a lively choir on the sanctuary encourages devotion to God.

  • scary goat

    LOL. Ouch…..that’s a bit strong isn’t it?  I would have thought mr. Carter was trying to defend the traditional faith from what he sees as overly liberal influences. Can’t say I entirely disagree with that view, although my position is a bit different. If you don’t take his “vehemence” too seriously and look at his actual explanations of a more “traditionalist” position, there is a lot of food for thought there.

  • Lucy

    Dear All,

    Please email Bishop John Arnold the Chair of CAFOD and ask him to remove (politely) this heretic (best not to use this word in your email to him) from the Theological Advisory Board of CAFOD in support of his fellow bishop and in terms of the unity and collegiality of the Bishops Conference (got to use some flowery language to dress it up for him):

    Thank you.

  • crisg

    Listen to yourself and read 1 Corinthians 13

  • scary goat

     Must admit I’m not that keen on the Cathedral, but in the main  Bishop Declan seems to be well liked.  There are a lot of good things going on in the diocese, a lot of opportunities for adult education/catechesis, family events etc. and the bishop himself comes across as very quiet and gentle. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Theologians aren’t there to reflect the views of the faithful, but to help and support the Magisterium in its teaching of the Faith to the faithful. 

    The Catholic Faith is full of bright diamonds to mine. These when cut and polished reflect the beauty of the Faith even more brightly. A real Catholic theologian may take a lifetime to cut and polish just one facet; carefully, slowly and with love. 

    There are special tools to use. But not a sledgehammer, which smashes the diamond to bits or at least deforms it beyond repair. That’s your post-Vatican II theologian for you. 
    The Faith comes to us directly from God Himself, not from a laity whose opinions may be, and all too often are, formed from the world and all its falsehoods. 

  • Johnjohns

    Tina Beattie is the only theologian anybody takes any notice of in the UK so cancelling a lecture is not a good move for Christian evangelism.
    She is orthodox in her beliefs applying Christian charity to circumstances.
    Her series on Aquinas in The Guardian was first class.

  • Johnjohns

    Another who obviously knows nothing of her books and insights.

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    Tina’s problem is her vanity. She is cursed with good looks! Her own and Martini’s logic reminds me of the Bishop of Durham, David Jenkinks: what is the point of believing in God if my neighbour doesn’t? Be assured Tina, you are so good looking people do notice your faith but you need to acquire some silence! This response from you is vulgar and opportunistic. Thomas More’s silence echoed throughout Christendom and now eternity!

  • teigitur

    Take no noice of Mgr Loftus. No-one else does.

  • teigitur

    Thats exactly the problem. Mgr Loftus is so lost in the trees he cannot see the wood.

  • teigitur

    She is certainly attractive, but no film star good looks.

  • teigitur

    Oh indeed the pagan media love her. She is certainly not stupid and is not wrong all the time. Just a great deal of it.

  • JabbaPapa

    She is orthodox in her beliefs

    Well, apparently not.

    Signing a letter saying that it’s OK in her opinion for individual Catholics to be supportive of these “gay marriage” plans of the Government is to arrogate the teaching rights of the Episcopate for herself and her fellow signatories — not to mention denying Catholic teaching on the question, which describes homosexuality itself as being inherently disordered — it is NOT OK for individual Catholics to be “supportive” of any inherently disordered proposals.

    She’s tried to wiggle out of it by claiming, in what seems to be a fairly hypocritical manner, that the letter concerns civil unions only, and not these “gay marriage” proposals — but then one wonders why she would make all of that fuss, if this were true, given that such civil unions already exist. She wouldn’t, would she, ergo she’s being deliberately untruthful about the nature of her own statements, which is NOT something that one could possibly admire in a theologian, nor could one describe this implicitly mendacious attitude as being an orthodox one.

  • JabbaPapa

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Cjkeeffe

    So Mgr Loftus your only responce to the error of teh bishop in inviting Ms Beattie to represent her views is that to misquote Elton John “he sure plays a mean pinball”. I understand that Pope Pius XII (who truely is The Great) said he who sings prays twice, but you have to get the basics right. and regretfully on this occiasion regardless of your assurences of his pastoral ministry, the bishop got it wrong. But i guess on judgement day he can say well, i had great muscians on sanctuary (should really be in the choir and leave teh sanctuary to those carry out the sacred functions at the altar). No wonder peopel laugh at the faith when those who are the trained thinkers in the church accomodate the nonsense of the world. I’m sure teh great Bl John Henry Newman would be crying with the way the English church is behaving and mis quoting his conscince first statement.

  • Johnjohns

    A comment supporting Dr Beattie that I posted last night has failed to appear.
    The disappointment of several I have spoken to at not being unable to hear the person whose broadcasts are enjoyed and books appreciated has not been voiced.
    The subject was in no way related to the gay marriage issue, was a contribution to the important Year of Faith.
    It is our loss and deeply shocking that this should have happened.

  • Mrscranmer

    Tina Beattie – the acceptable face of Catholicism.
    The Anglican Church has lost more to her charitable brand of that denomination than I care to admit.
    If she would move over to the Established Church we would be delighted but, as she has stated several times, she is a loyal member of the Roman Church.
    I would thoroughly recommend her books.

  • scary goat

     See what I mean!  That was mr. Carter in poetic mode…..a pleasure to read.

  • rjt1

    You’d have thought she would have stuck to the ‘green, green grass’ of Rome.

  • teigitur

    Moderator. Do you not think this should be removed??. After all you remove far less offensive posts!!

  • Adsum

    Is the Catholic Church becoming too obsessed with sexual morality at the expense of treating other vital issues of morality and ethics? Even to the extent of refusing to hear opposing points of view. 

  • Benedict Carter


  • Benedict Carter

    Giving a heterodox ‘theologian’ a platform at a diocesan event gives her whole theology (which is self-evidently un-Catholic) a credibility she must not be given, for the protection of the Faith and of the faithful and ultimately for the Salvation of souls – which can only be based on the Truth. 

    The fault lies in two generations of Bishops who have supported and patronized such heretics at the same time as using the full weight of Canon law and other methods against Catholics who simply wanted to remain Catholic. 

    May God purge this filthy post-Vatican II Church of all the myriad heresies infesting Her, heresies which shroud the beauty of the Faith and which lead souls to hell.

  • phil_evans

    Tina Beattie speaking truth to power.

  • teigitur

    Now there is a surprise…..or not…lol

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    Are you kidding? She’s so beautiful I could drink her bathwater!

  • Just_a_simpleton

    “The disappointment …at not being unable to hear the person….has not been voiced.”

    Perhaps that’s not what you meant to say.  The sentence, however, is similar to the lucidity of Prof Beattie’s expression of Catholic teaching.

  • Sweetjae

    The rampant immorality, pornography, abortion, rape, violence to women and decadence can be traced back to perverted sexual revolution.

  • Sweetjae

    I wholeheartedly agree with you Paulpriest, people joining country clubs should abide by their rules and regulations otherwise just get out or be thrown out. This Missy Beattie and including “catholic” politicians calling themselves catholics yet disregard the clear teachings of the Faith are hypocrites of worst kind.

  • Sweetjae

    Ms. Beattie’s claim as being a ‘catholic’ theologian is much like the claim of present day followers of Arius of their church, the ‘apostolic, catholic Arian church’.

  • Sweetjae

    We dont need Ms Beattie’s ‘theology’ that only fits her own and maybe she has done more for her church but definitely not ours. We have our own Pope and 2,000 years old Catholic Theology that constantly guide us.

  • Sweetjae

    Yessss! Bullseye!

  • Sweetjae


  • Sweetjae

    Hey Tom Jones, why dont you just sing as a song, are you the famous singer from the 60s?

  • Benedict Carter

    But whose truth.

    God’s, or her own?

  • Sweetjae

    So why did the quote 1 Cor 13, to prove your point? So basing on your flawed interpretation of ‘love’ in the verse, Adam and Steve can consummate their marriage? How about adult people who advocate the removal of minor age law because they want of consummate their ‘love’ of minors? How about those who wanted to marry their dogs,cats, siblings, next of kin etc because of their ‘love’?

    Crisg, I guessed you overlooked a passage in the same verse which says, “6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

  • Sweetjae

    Erratum: should be us not as.

  • athelstane

    Someone’s obsessed with sex, all right, but it’s not the bishops of England.

  • Basil Loftus

    Yes, the Bishop is in touch with the times and there is a strong feminist community centred on Emmaus House within a short walk of the Cathedral.  

  • meganmeaney

    Tina’s critics pale into insignificance next to the quality and quantity of her supporters.
    The cancellation of her lecture is a loss only those who have heard her can really appreciate.
    Very sad indeed for the Clifton Diocese pressurised to cancel the best of the lot.

  • Johnjohns

    I look forward to the cancelled lecture in full published in The Tablet.

  • Johnjohns

    So how do you edit this blog?

    Correction: “The disappointment at not being able to hear the person…”

    So which of her books have you read simpleton?

  • Johnjohns

    I can vouch for her physical and moral beauty, something you could have seen for yourself if the lecture had gone ahead.

  • Basil Loftus

    Have you considered taking a course of psycho analysis?

  • Just_a_simpleton

    I am a simpleton, not a fool. Why would I waste my precious time reading the pseudo-theology of a dissenter?

  • Sweetjae

    Benedict, though I agree with you, this is where we disagree. I believe,
    I give assent and obedience to *ALL* valid and legitimate Councils of the Church
    in her 2,000 years of existence, NEVER for a second I believe that the Holy
    Spirit would abandon the  Church and promulgate errors through a legitimate
    Ecumenical Council.

    In all honesty, I would like to agree with you but if I do, I have to blame the Council of Constance too, because she promulgated the Doctrine of Indulgences and Purgatory which Martin Luther considered as heretical ideas not found in the Bible that he had used to justify his disobedience to the Church.


    However you were right in pointing to the lack of proper judgment and
    sometimes abuses of the clergy with modernist agendas.Peace.

  • scary goat

     Good grief!  What have her looks got to do with anything?

  • scary goat

     What sort of feminists? I am the sort of feminist who thinks women have the right to be women and be respected as such. Not keen on the notion that women are only worthy of respect if they compete with men.