Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

United Kingdom – gay issue/women priests

Posted by Fr Mark on September 8, 2010

Catholic group accuses Church of intolerance ahead of Pope visit

From Daily Telegraph, 8.9.10:

The Catholic Church has been accused of being ”deeply misogynist”, intolerant of gay people and ”monarchical” in its approach by members of a group calling for change within its ranks

Organisers of Catholic Voices for Reform said they wanted to see an ”open discussion” on issues within the church such as women’s ordination, sexual orientation and clerical celibacy.

The group has drawn up six questions it plans to deliver to the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols and the Vatican’s Ambassador to the UK to pass to Pope Benedict when he visits Britain next week.

The questions describe the church as ”over-centralised”, ask why the rules on compulsory celibacy for the priesthood cannot be relaxed and describe the ban on women priests as ”purely cultural and historical”.

The crisis over sex abuse within the church has also highlighted an institutional church that is ”too monarchical” and lacking in transparency and accountability, they said.

Bernard Wynne, a spokesman for Catholic Voices for Reform, said he doubted they would get ”anywhere near the Pope” during his visit to ask the questions but he believed many of the issues would be discussed ”behind closed doors”.

He said he believed at least half of ”average” Mass-going Catholics in Britain would support many of their demands.

He said: ”The church has now reached a stage where an open discussion about how it can best fulfil its sacred mission in the modern world is the only way forward.

”What we are seeking is an open, transparent discussion about the real need for change within the church.”

Mr Wynne, from Sidcup, Kent, said he backed the church’s ”wonderful” social teaching in areas such as the rights of workers and global poverty.

But he said: ”Although the issue of ordination is very much related to the Pope, what we have in the church is an appalling misogyny where many, many people, priests, bishops, and I guess still some lay people would be appalled at women being involved.

”The church, I think, is deeply misogynist and we have to change that.”

He added: ”There is a whole series of issues … about the equality of women, but also there is also an issue of sexual orientation and how in fairness to what the church suggests, one could only say that it is intolerant of people of a different sexual orientation.”

Simon Bryden-Brook, also of the group, from Newbury, Berkshire, said: ”In the monarchical clerical church that we have at the present time, the only way that there is going to be change is when the person at the top decides that there is going to be change.”

Pat Brown, from Leeds, also of the group said: ”I think the church’s teaching on social justice has been very good, I think it is undermined by their lack of justice in other areas.”

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