Catholic Church | Gay Marriage | Great Britain | Religion

British Catholic Priests Say Marriage Equality Bigger Threat Than 16th Century Reformation

GetoveritWho should be more offended here, gays or protestants?

1,054 Catholic priests, 13 Bishops and assorted Catholic abbots have signed a massive open letter claiming that legalizing marriage equality in England is a greater threat to religious freedom in general, and Catholicism specifically, since the Reformation, the 16th Century split that led to the rise of Protestantism.

Here's a sample of the letter, via The Daily Mail:

After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.

Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.

It is germane to point out here that Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other 16th Century Reformers were protesting what they found to be a corrupt, archaic Catholic church. Their efforts were clearly successful, greatly reducing number of Catholics in England (Yes, Henry VIII played a role in the church's erosion of power by erecting the Anglican Church of England, but for far different reasons, though around the same time.)

So, now we have the modern - well, as modern as it can be - Catholic Church claiming that allowing fellow human beings to marry the people they love will somehow destroy their religion. It seems to be that the only thing destroying their religion is their consistent refusal to adapt to the times.

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Comments

  1. Gay equality, whether marriage or otherwise, really IS a threat--TO THEM. The more widespread gay equality becomes, the faster their antiquated "teachings" fall into the same historical garbage can as the flat earth, spontaneous generation and fairies in the bottom of the garden.

    Posted by: jomicur | Jan 12, 2013 1:50:42 PM


  2. The Catholic church is instituionalized corruption at it's worst. A soulless corporate beast like Wall Street. The sooner it's gone for good, the better!

    Posted by: Molc | Jan 12, 2013 2:03:08 PM


  3. There's nothing wrong with Belonsky's writing here. The criticism of the exaggeration in the title is valid and that is it. That sort of exaggeration is so common that people bothered by it need to log off and stay off the Internet for good. Even Rachel Maddow does it.

    As far as the Reformation pedants, his inclusion of John Calvin was more of a list of names commonly associated with the Reformation. He could have easily left both Calvin and Luther out and his point would not have changed one iota. It could have read "it is germane to point out here that 16th century Reformers were..." and then left Reformation geeks to insert whatever historical names they prefer that gives them a hardon. In no universe except the most narrow Reformation pedant does that constitute "placing of Calvin as one of the forces behind the English Reformation and [his] attempt to discount the role of Henry VIII in the English Reformation."

    And to Ernst Rhoem's Ghost, I have thought about the conclusion you seem to be alarmed by and I agree with Belonsky. The Catholic Church must change or die. To the purists who will then say then it is not the same Catholic Church, I say so what? If you want to label it something other than the Catholic Church, I'm fine with that. The Catholic Church as defined by 4th Century priests must become extinct. It is a menace to Truth and Justice.


    Posted by: DaveL | Jan 12, 2013 2:55:20 PM


  4. Belonsky would just say "Packers Fan? What are you, straight?! Blech..!"

    Posted by: Yupp | Jan 12, 2013 3:01:23 PM


  5. more useless opinions from the very same folks who literally believe that the more than 6 million Jews exterminated in the Holocaust are "in hell for eternity" simply for not being Christians.

    puke.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 12, 2013 3:17:33 PM


  6. The Catholic Church is a complete farce, and this hyperbolic comparison (even if you look at the original meaning and not Belonsky's mistranslation) is just another exhibit among millions. At least we aren't being compared to a natural disaster. I can imagine the cardinals sitting around in their palatial drawing rooms being drama queens: "maybe we should say the biggest threat to civilization since the bubonic plague?" "No, I think we'll just go with the biggest threat to religious freedom since the Reformation". Right, like armies of gays are going to go around beheading priests.


    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jan 12, 2013 3:18:16 PM


  7. When I came to this page to see the comments I was shocked to see a banner ad for Jerry Falwell's Liberty University

    Posted by: Bob | Jan 12, 2013 3:20:59 PM


  8. The hysterical death rattles of a criminal cult as they bury themselves alive. I spit on their grave.

    Posted by: stranded | Jan 12, 2013 3:21:03 PM


  9. To Davel...
    Here is the thing. If, as you say,
    "the Catholic Church as defined by 4th Century priests ... is a menace to Truth and Justice," then there is an excellent chance that Christ and the original Apostles were at fault. But many people--yes even many gays--are fully committed to the notion that Christ and the Founders of Christianity were the representatives of Truth and Justice. In fact, Jesus said "I am the Truth."

    This does not mean that private lives must be strictly regimented to follow "every jot and tittle" of Church law. 2000 years of experience tell us that gays will be gay and straights will have sex outside of marriage. Also that people will lie, cheat, steal, and practice cruelty. It's not really about private lives. It's more about official policy: What does the Church officially declare to be legitimate Christianity?

    I happen to support gay marriage, but I do not expect the Living Ancient Churches to declare it Chrisitan. That is beyond reason.

    Posted by: Ernst Rhoem's Ghost | Jan 12, 2013 3:22:05 PM


  10. To Davel...
    Here is the thing. If, as you say,
    "the Catholic Church as defined by 4th Century priests ... is a menace to Truth and Justice," then there is an excellent chance that Christ and the original Apostles were at fault. But many people--yes even many gays--are fully committed to the notion that Christ and the Founders of Christianity were the representatives of Truth and Justice. In fact, Jesus said "I am the Truth."

    This does not mean that private lives must be strictly regimented to follow "every jot and tittle" of Church law. 2000 years of experience tell us that gays will be gay and straights will have sex outside of marriage. Also that people will lie, cheat, steal, and practice cruelty. It's not really about private lives. It's more about official policy: What does the Church officially declare to be legitimate Christianity?

    I happen to support gay marriage, but I do not expect the Living Ancient Churches to declare it Chrisitan. That is beyond reason.

    Posted by: Ernst Rhoem's Ghost | Jan 12, 2013 3:22:06 PM


  11. I'm sorry that me pointing out the problems with Andrew's post was so offensive to your delicate sensibilities, Davel. Andrew attributed the English Reformation to Calvin and Luther directly, while going on to say that Henry VIII played only a role, and was apparently not even aware of the timeframe. Anne Boleyn was the primary force behind Henry's change of ideology, and it is disingenuous to attempt to minimize her role in the English Reformation or the fact that the English Reformation probably would not have happened had it not been for her relationship with Henry.

    I also apologize that my career is so offensive to you. We can't all be the comment police for Towleroad, I suppose.

    To UFFDA, I don't know your background, but Alison Weir's biography of Henry VIII is a great place to start. It has a good amount of information and her writing style is very accessible (compared to other historians, at least). For a look at the influence of his wives, I'd recommend Antonia Fraser's The Wives of Henry VIII. Similar to Weir, it is a good overview of Henry's reign.

    Posted by: OddBet | Jan 12, 2013 3:25:51 PM


  12. While the headline is not exactly what the priests said (they talked about persecution following the Reformation, not the Reformation itself, and during that time period, the Catholic church did its fair share of the persecuting), the idea is valid.

    Same sex marriage is the biggest threat to Catholicism since the Reformation because both signaled a significant drop in the Catholic Church's authority over people. While primarily about religious issues, the Reformation resulted in the Catholic Church no longer having governmental authority - they could not have people arrested and tortured to death. While primarily about equality, the marginalization of the Catholic Church regarding same-sex marriage is resulting in (or results from) a loss of that church's ability to control people by making them feel guilty about sex.

    The Catholic church is losing the only lever at has left - sexual guilt trips - and that must be seen by them as a serious issue for reasons far different than the church's public pronouncements would suggest. They'll do everything they can to try to keep that lever.

    Posted by: Bill | Jan 12, 2013 5:39:52 PM


  13. ODDBET - thank you for your recommendations.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jan 12, 2013 5:45:14 PM


  14. @Davel,

    As the person who pointed out Belonsky's misleading headline, I'm going to have to disobey your orders to log off the internet forever to make a followup comment. First and foremost, this is just one of many examples where Belonsky's writing just doesn't match the facts, and often contradicts them. I just don't see the point of being a news aggregator if you're going to completely mangle the news you're aggregating. He had a blurb a few months ago saying the Rhode Island senate would refuse to take up gay marriage, but the linked article said the exact opposite. There was something about some Anglican priests who were mad because the government wouldn't allow them to perform gay marriage, which belonsky summarized as Anglicans in last ditch effort to kill gay marriage or something like that. There are many, many examples of this. I admit that's a much bigger problem than we have here, although really his headline is again the opposite of the article. His headline says gay marriage bigger threat than reformation, but since the letter says since, that really means smaller threat than the reformation. But the rest of his summary was reasonably in accordance with the linked article so it's not a big deal in isolation. But I pointed it out because he's so often wrong, and I don't think he's doing it to mislead, I think it's just sloppy. The letter by itself was a ridiculous exaggeration of the threat, if any, posed by gay marriage to the church. Not one extra page view was gained by changing since to greater than, so I think it's just done out of carelessness, which can be fatal to a news aggregator like Towleroad.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 12, 2013 6:10:13 PM


  15. Bill : Just to say, thanks for that post. That's very interesting, and sure sounds accurate as to what is going on with Catholicism. At least, I agree. On a much smaller stage, as far as "control" goes, I was raised Catholic in NYC, with parochial school and everything, and the physical (not sexual) abuse was pretty shocking. THAT is a subject that never gets enough attention, because the sexual abuse has overshadowed it. But it's shocking when I think now of how quick priests and nuns were to actually strike children (not even their own children!) without any fear of lawsuits (or even obstruction) from the parents. It was a very strange and awful culture.

    Posted by: Yupp | Jan 12, 2013 6:11:51 PM


  16. Bill, that is correct. As I've said before, sexual guilt - often about being in the closet - is a HUGE recruiting tool for both evangelical Protestants and Catholics. Both for the laity and the church leadership. But it doesn't make their comparison less ridiculous. Their silly syllogism seems to be "the world is changing, therefore the sky is falling." Their biggest threat is themselves, and their smug, arrogant god complex.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jan 12, 2013 6:12:19 PM


  17. @Ernst,

    Your knowledge of Catholic history must come exclusively from what you learned in Catholic school. The whole point of Protestantism (Luther, Calvin etc, not the English variety) was that the catholic church had become completely severed from ancient christianity, riddled with corruption and saturated with the pagan myths of ancient rome. So they set about trying to return christianity to its ancient roots, using the bible as their guide. For some reason you think using the bible rather than the dictates of an old man in rome means liberal protestants aren't related to ancient christianity, but the bible is the only real thing anyone has to work with in trying to understand ancient christianity. I'm an atheist so I'm completely unbiased when it comes to comparing christian sects, but I am keenly interested in religious history and the protestants have the better argument here.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 12, 2013 6:17:12 PM


  18. Brian, by ignoring my recommendation (as opposed to order), you've left yourself in grave danger. If there's one thing in all of Creation we know with absolute certainty, it's that the Internet will not bend to your will and it's reasonable to conclude it will only continue to disappoint you. Don't come crying to me when you finally snap. I tried to help you.

    At the risk of pushing you ever closer to the edge, I have to point out you did to me exactly what you complain about Belonsky's title. In recasting what I said you should do as an order, you have contorted the original meaning and reported it back as the opposite of what it intended.

    I'm sorry but I don't understand the point of responding in comment sections as you do if you're going to completely mangle the thread.

    Posted by: DaveL | Jan 12, 2013 7:01:25 PM


  19. Ernst Rhoem's Ghost

    "...there is an excellent chance that Christ and the original Apostles were at fault. But many people--yes even many gays--are fully committed to the notion that Christ and the Founders of Christianity were the representatives of Truth and Justice."

    First thank you for the attention. You're a thoughtful man who posts genuinely. A rare Internet find.

    I quoted this one section from your post since it was up several posts. I don't agree there's an "excellent" chance of what you say. But I agree there's a chance and I'd have no problem then expanding my original conclusion to both the 4th century Church and Jesus himself are menaces to Truth and Justice.

    As an atheist who is not yet convinced Jesus Christ ever even existed, I'd have no qualms whatsoever.

    It's hard to know how to respond to your comment on these Living Ancient Churches that you clearly revere. Their pronouncements on what is and is not "Christian" is meaningless to me so I should perhaps be polite and not say anything. If, as you seem to feel, what is Christian (according to these AncientLiving Churches) cannot change, then as with all things that cannot change, it must become extinct. I think the time for the extinction of the Ancient Living Churches (and yes perhaps that means Jesus Christ too) is long past.

    Though I do not accept the oneness of Jesus' message as revealed in the gospels and these Ancient Living Churches.

    Posted by: DaveL | Jan 12, 2013 7:23:20 PM


  20. @Davel,

    I'll take you at your word and chalk this down to a misunderstanding. But clearly the word need, as in you need to log off the internet forever, is ambiguous, and often used as a substitute for order ("you need to get out of my face" for example). But it could also be a strong recommendation, so we'll leave it there. this is however, nothing like what belonsky does. There is no room for ambiguity in his many mistakes, just carelessness.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 12, 2013 7:32:06 PM


  21. The Catholic Church: Protects Pedophiles, Encourages Misogyny, and despite a huge number of gay priests, bishops, and cardinals, seeks to prevent gays and women from fully participating in society and the Church.

    The ship continues to sink and the crew continues not to notice.

    Posted by: thepolarbeast | Jan 12, 2013 8:37:30 PM


  22. @Brian GREAT CATCH on the hyperbole! Thank you Brian!

    Posted by: thepolarbeast | Jan 12, 2013 8:54:59 PM


  23. The letter itself is not yet available on the internet. It's supposed to be in the Daily Telegraph - but it's not there (yet). It's not even on the official UK RC website (yet).

    Do not underestimate the importance of political and financial governmental realities in the Reformation - without which there probably wouldn't have been one.

    I, too, share the frustration with the headlines not matching the articles. As someone who doesn't always read the full posts or follow the links, I rely on accuracy and it's not up to standards.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Jan 12, 2013 9:03:47 PM


  24. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    EMPTY PEWS

    MAY CHANGE THEIR VIEWS
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Posted by: Bob | Jan 12, 2013 9:21:02 PM


  25. I do not know what is in the proposed bill, but I doubt very much that it will abolish the right of Roman Catholics to hold public office, that it will entail the confiscation of Catholic churches and monasteries, or that it will to a possibility, let alone a probability, that Catholic bishops will be burned at the stake for derivative reasons.

    Based on the words and actions of the Bishop of Rome, the "truth" about marriage, as declared by people who reject any form of marriage for themselves, is that the only acceptable forms of human sexuality is sex that treats women like dairy cattle or sexual abuse of youngsters -- if perpetrated by their fellow clergy.

    Posted by: EdA | Jan 12, 2013 10:34:38 PM


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