Tue 21st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Tue 21st Oct 2014 at 06:37am

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

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?”

  • Rizzo the Bear

    Why on earth didn’t the Diocese of Clifton not research the background etc. of people they intend to invite to their talks? This goes for other diocese, too.
    It’s OK to invite her if it is for a healthy debate – just as long as there is a confident, courageous, knowledgable person who knows the teaching of the Magisterium inside out to be so effective in putting the points across that they can blow her misleading tripe out of the water.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Is the Church, or is the Church not, infested with a veritable plague of heresies at the present time? Yes, the Church IS so infested. 

    That was solely my point (at least as far as this post is concerned). 

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah


  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    I guess it would be infra dig to point out you can’t spell psychoanalysis.

  • Johnjohns

    The Diocese of Clifton know her well, were privileged to have her speak. Only external pressure caused the cancellation.
    This matter does not end here. It was very ill-advised to alter the programme at this stage over an entirely unrelated issue.
    Those who admire her work will make it their business to investigate further.

  • Oconnord

    I wish I was away.. though I did get a weekend off. I finally finished a DIY job. I won’t go to detail, but I learned hanging a door is not as simple as it looks!

    On the serious thing…

    The obvious, is that some areas are core and fundamental. But are those the same as were core and fundamental a thousand years ago?

    I’m not being crass, I’d learn by the article written and by the comments posted. I’d have very little, (if anything), to add to the debate. It would help to illuminate “grey areas”. As an Irish Organic Catholic Atheist Secular Humanist, 
    I know where the sexual lines are drawn, but not where the lines of thought are  stopped. 

  • JabbaPapa

    The obvious, is that some areas are core and fundamental. But are those
    the same as were core and fundamental a thousand years ago?

    Obviously so — fundamentals, if they were subject to variations and shifting opinions, wouldn’t even *be* fundamentals in he first place.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/53SIYWKRNUDSN4GPEG7CHS3N7M KJUYggtr

    “who speaks for the Catholic Church:? The Diocese simply answered the question. Ms Beattie, it is a privilege to speak for the Catholic Church, theologians know that.

  • teigitur

    Quite some titles you give yourself there, lol… don’t you think Atheist and Humanist are contra-indicated? Anyway thats an aside.
     Its not just about sexual morality, in this case. This Lady is allegedly a theologian of the Catholic variety. As someone else pointed out on here. Their “job” is to shine light on difficult areas of faith and morals and to super-charge the not so difficult bits, if any such exist.It is certainly to question , but not to undermine, as some do, the core teachings of the Church, which are the same yesterday, today and always. ( If you mention flat-earth in your reply I might have to come over and sort you out!! lol)……. I disagree that you can add nothing to the discussion. I rarely agree with you but its always interesting to hear other points of view, from outside the Church, at least you do what it says on the tin. and dont pretend to be something you are not, unlike some Church people.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Investigate, investigate. And then write a letter to your beloved ‘Guardian’ and Tablet about it.

  • teigitur

    Oh please!!…..

  • teigitur

    ….or you one on “Liturgy” or Church History?

  • Basil Loftus

    I believe Clifton Diocese supports a broard range of feminist thinking and I am sure that you would feel quite at home.   

  • Sweetjae

    Got you, thanks for clarifying.

  • Mrscranmer

    The CDF pressure confirms how out of touch the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is. We are owed a full explanation since the lecture was unrelated to any controversial topic.
    By this action the Professor has unintentionally been silenced on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her orthodox views, and books on this subject are known, admired and beyond criticism.
    A very bad move on the part of the Diocese.

  • Peter

    If men can marry men, then it is improper to have communal male changing rooms and shower facilities in swimming baths and sports centres, since all the users would be potential sexual partners.

    It would be exactly the same as having mixed – men and women – changing rooms, which for obvious reasons no sports centre or swimming baths has.

    If and when same sex marriage becomes legal, everyone who goes to a sports centre or swimming baths should ask the manager for private changing and showering facilities.

    If the manager refuses, then it ought to be possible to take that establishment to court and sue it for failing to protect an individual’s personal right to sexual privacy.

    No doubt there will be many cases across the country filed by individuals who feel very uncomfortable changing and showering with others who are potential marriage partners.


  • Cjkeeffe

    I’d like to see all Dioceses embrace a proper catholic thinking rather than parisan feminism. When these clerics and officials die and habve to account for their lives as I already have posed to question to you – I don’t think their saying “dude i was embracing the feminist spirit of the age man” Leading souls to destruction is not key to ensuring ones own salvation, but i guess the “church” in some eyes don’t belive this sort of thing any more!

  • Cjkeeffe

    women and men are complimenentary to each other. Neither sex is superior we all have our mission in life (as Newman wrote I may not know it in this life but I have a mission entrusted to me).

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    Tina – the thinking heretic’s crumpet!

  • Pcl3690

    May be one can preach the Gospel even from hell… they say the devils do that to get their points across and win large crowds… at the end, giving a twist to our thinking and attitude which they call ‘orientation’ which further will go down to their next generations as the truths as they watch and learn from such disoriented role models.

  • scary goat

     Exactly.  That’s what I meant.  I think the feminist agenda is damaging to women.  I want the right to be a woman and not be made to feel that I only have a value if I compete with men. 

    To be honest basil loftus has got me confused.  That’s the problem with text, it’s not always easy to tell if someone is serious or being sarcastic.  My first comment welcoming mr carter seemed to be met with dissaproval by mr loftus suggesting that he holds more liberal views.  He has then gone on to support the bishop’s apparent liberal views,  but I get the feeling his comments are meant as criticism not support.  I may be mistaken, but it seems that mr loftus is playing with words.
    I am more inclined to traditional views, although not quite as ultra traditional as mr. carter. I am not quite sure what mr loftus is trying to say.
    I’m not sure if he is supporting or criticising the bishop for being liberal, and I wouldn’t have thought the bishop is particularly liberal. He seems pretty middle of the road to me.

  • scary goat

     ps. surely he can’t be THAT liberal because he’s cancelled the lecture???

  • Pcl3690

    They say the devils can preach the Gospels even from hell, and that’s what the devils do to attract and win large crowds whose thinking and attitude they twist as they listen, and call it orientation. The next generations will watch and learn from such ‘orientations’ and believe these as the truths. So, ultimately, where are we leading our future generations to? To learn from such disoriented role models?

  • Pcl3690

    They say the devils can preach the Gospels even from hell, and that’s what the devils do to attract and win large crowds whose thinking and attitude they twist as they listen, and call it orientation. The next generations will watch and learn from such ‘orientations’ and believe these as the truths. So, ultimately, where are we leading our future generations to? To learn from such disoriented role models? 

  • Cjkeeffe

    Hi, whilst Mgr Loftus is entitled to his view. He should as cleric tell us what the church actually teaches and not what he would like it to teach.
    Mgr Loftus writes in the Catholic Times an otherwisely sound publication but he does tend to overly support a liberal agenda.
    I would recommed reading the Cathechism and the Compendium. You can get them on line on thevatican website. Also the Holy Fathers letters and speeches. And finally but firstly the Gospels and the bible. I always stick with these guides as everything else is mere opinion – no matter whom it comes from. But you are entiled to express your view here and to ask questions and to recieve sound answers.
    Keep the faith and as St Pio says, Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry!

  • whytheworldisending

    This woman’s thinking is corrupt. A practicing Catholic believes in apostolic authority and does not publicly try to contradict Church teaching. She is about as Catholic as Nick Clegg. Homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, and the idea of marriage between homosexuals is as nonsensical as marriage between humans and their pet animals – something which will not be far off if certain deranged politicians have their way.

  • Cjkeeffe

    Listening to heresy or delusion is never good for the soul. It may be a much better use of time to read teh authoritve teachings of the church.

  • Alan

    I disagree with Tina Beattie on “gay marriage”, and signed the Coalition for Marriage petition.  But her proposed lecture had nothing to do with this subject (presumably), and its cancellation is another depressing example of the Vatican’s policy of simply stamping on opinions they find inconvenient.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    You aren’t owed any explanation at all. You are an Anglican. 

  • Oconnord

    Don’t forget organic :) As to the rest, well I’m fully aware of my cognitive dissonance, but that doesn’t mean I could explain it. Heck I also think of my self as an aggressive pacifist!!!

    Well if you think annoyingly simple questions, which show how much I’ve forgotten from my catholic education, are interesting. Well, I’m pretty sure I could provide more than a few. 

  • phil_evans

    Alan. That is exactly the point. Here is a Catholic whose book on militant atheism is brilliant. A huge asset in so many ways.
    It is unthinkable that her lecture would be anything but orthodox in a public setting as a guest lecturer in a series on the Second Vatican Council.
    The CDF has made a poor error of judgment here, and the Diocese has been pressurised to comply.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    What are those “so many ways”, Phil?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Investigate, John! 

    Then write to your M.P. 

  • Oconnord

    I’m not trying to start the debate here, but consider an outsiders view. I know support of slavery was never a core or fundamental belief of the church. But an outside view might think it so. Equally what you think are ,now, the fundamental and core beliefs, might be mis-judged. 

    Are they fundamental until they are judged not to be? 

    Original sin, by way of Eve, was a core doctrine, but now that the church accepts evolution, how does it change? How does the church explain original sin?    

  • 2_Armpits_4_Sister_Sarah

    If Tina wasn’t so gorgeous, she would have no constituency. If she was fat and ugly would this story be of any interest?

  • teigitur

    I have no idea of your age, but its highly unlikely you received a “Catholic” education in any real sense, if you were at school within the last forty years.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    In the same way. Nothing has changed. 

  • Basil Loftus

    Have you noticed how the Catholic Herald manimpulate these posts in order to present a message that they agree with?

  • scary goat

     Haha.  Had the same discussion with a friend of mine a few weeks ago.  It doesn’t matter whether the story is literal or not, the meaning is the same.  Original sin is man’s arrogance and disobedience towards God which then has a “ripples on a pond” effect.  Sin is the opposite of Love.  Love unites, sin divides.  Go back to Genesis….The first sin caused division between God and man (Adam and Eve story) the second sin caused division between brother and brother (or man and his fellow man….the Cain and Abel Story).  This is still true whether there was literally an apple and a talking snake or not.  If man evolved, ok, we might not have a literal Adam and Eve, although at some point presumably there were first men and women, and I suppose you could ask at what point did original sin come to be….I don’t know….I suppose at the point where man had the intellect to be disobedient (to natural law) ? It is the principle of the story that matters, as an explanation of the human condition, not whether the story is literal or not.  Take a look around you, or inside yourself, original sin is not hard to see.

  • scary goat

     Hardly.  There are plenty of posts on here that disagree with all sorts of things.  Some of us would prefer stricter editing.  If you are referring to the positioning of posts, it depends on who replies to whom and your settings at the top…you can set it to in order of popularity or from oldest to most recent etc. 

  • Apostolic

    Yes, but she does believe in women priests and the topic would doubtless have provided a platform to promote this. A separate issue, but part of an heretical piece nonetheless.

  • James

     Correct.  Catholic in name only.  It is total nonsense to suggest that “Catholics in good conscience have valid reasons to hold moral positions contrary to those of the holy Catholic Church”…They simply do not and are in error for doing so.  These teachings are part of the sacred deposit of faith.

  • Jon Brownridge

    As a theologian, Professor Beattie has a right and a duty to explore traditional moral positions, even if her views fly in the face of long-held tenets that are putatively carved in stone. How else can we develop reasoned thinking with the benefit of new-found knowledge? We do not want to find ourselves in the position of certain thinking Muslim leaders who want to review draconian blasphemy laws, for example, but are afraid to do so because of violent traditionalists who lack the courage to move on. The worst thing we can do is to ‘silence’ courageous theologians like Beattie, just because we disagree with her. We need to listen to what she has to say before condemning her position. I might add, to much protest no doubt, that just as one can disagree with David Cameron’s government and still be British, so can one disagree with Benedict’s government and still be Catholic.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    She has no right as a Catholic nor as a “Catholic theologian” to undermine or even question the content of the Faith, especially dogma and teaching on faith and morals. 

    If she doesn’t hold to it, she is no longer a Catholic: let her declare herself as such. 

  • JabbaPapa

    These aren’t “opinions” — they are objective falsehoods.

  • Patrickhowes

    My question is;Would Bishop Declan have cancelled the lecture if the letters had not been in The Times?.I doubt it.Clifton is my diocese and what is being taught in the schools is “Catholic Christianity” and not “Roman Catholicism”….

  • spudbynight

    Well, edited for publication in The Tablet I am sure.

  • zach

    Professor Beattie’s books were instrumental in my conversion to Catholicism. Cancellation of a public lecture by her is a great loss.

  • nytor

    A stopped clock and all that…

  • No more NO!

     To be perfectly fair, if her approach is against Christ’s Teaching, is it totally her  fault?

    I am a Daily Communicant at a Novus Ordo Parish. There are absolutely NO Tridentine Masses for hundreds of miles around us.  Quite a while ago – I discovered to my horror that the 100 percent trust that I had hitherto placed in my Daily Missal was rather naive.  I discovered inadvertently that every single day (and this includes the New Missal – as well as the Old one) that our Missal Readings are edited with apparent purpose.  Chastisement of God type Censorship.  Of 14 Biblical Citations stating that Homosexuality is an abhorrent sin – called regularly (New testament and old)  Serious Sin that is punishable by Hell Fire by Our Lord to those who continue in it.  Each of these numerous references to Homosexuality,  each citation is missing from the Daily Missal – edited around skilfully by those compiling the Missal – apart from ONE in which Homosexuals re called “Sodomites”  a term not known to people under a certain age – and rather an odd return to the archaic language that the Modern Missal Compilers are normally so dismissive of.

    The Psalms have also likewise been dissected.  We are constantly informed of God’s endless Love, tolerance and forgiveness – but the other side of the coin,  His threats of Chastisement to those who betray His love, His anger and hurt towards us when we fail Him are all skilfully edited out. What a betrayal! 

    So, basically, if THIS young lady and a few hundred million more hold the mistaken belief that Christ “never said ANYTHING” against Homosexuality” Blame the post-conciliar Liberalist Bishops who are guilty of the terrible soul threatening sin of permitting an incorrect, blasphemous and sometimes immoral Missal  be foisted on the Priests and Laity of the Church..

    Today for instance the first reading is 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33
    I learned that the Holy Father had suggested that all Catholics do more than readthe Missal reading, – he advised us to Daily turn to the Bible, to read the entire chapter of each Missal reading every day  (I understand why and much appreciate His Divinely inspired advice!) 

    A quick look at my copy of the Douay Rheims and the missing verses 27 – 32  I found that the missing words contain a discourse where St Paul warns against sickness or death being the result for those who eat or drink of the Lord’s body and blood unworthily.  Without those key lines – all are left with the impression that there is no sin involved in doing so – and that Christ might not mind those of other denominations partaking of the Holy Sacrament.  Also those words state specifically thhat Our Lord’s Real Presence is the Consecrated Host.

    - Don’t trust Modern Biblical translations if you value your soul being correctly trained to gain eternal life  – apparently, up to 6 pages of words have been removed from various modern translations (both Protestant and Catholic) Some unknown people seek to play down Our Lord’s Divine Status and certain key phrases have been altered so drastically – in order for His message to appear less frightening for the modern secularist world to cope with.

    One such example is In St John’s Gospel Chapter 3

    Christ says to Nicodemus “No-one has gone up to heaven, except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.”

    The Douay Rheims (oldest Translation of the Catholic Church into English states
    instead  “And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man WHO IS IN HEAVEN!”

    Those final words (also in the Vulgate of St Jerome) stresses Christ’s Divinity.  Stating categorically that Christ remained IN Heaven whilst He was also incarnated on Earth. 

    Everyday we are reading about a false Jesus!  A Jesus so tolerant that a New Biblical Translation and a new Missal has had to be compiled to foist Him on the world. No wonder thousands upon thousands have left the Church.

    Help Christ defeat this Mass Apostasy!  Warned about by Our Lady during her  Apparitions – Obey Pope Benedict – call loud and hard for the OLD Mass, the OLD Missal which up to the 50′s contained the texts of the Douay Rheims.  Don’t trust the alterations in the Vulgate. Far safer with the un-liberalised Vulgate of Canonised Saint Jerome  – from which the Douay Rheims was painstakingly translated during the Protestant reformation.