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Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Civil Partnerships and the Church. II Practice

This post is intended to give some objective, publicly available information concerning what I consider to be several grave scandals associated with one another. I have purposely avoided the use of any emotive language and ask that any comments on this post should be calm and objective.

The Furrow for October 2006 carries an article by Enda McDonagh entitled "Honorably Catholic and Honorably Gay". A footnote to the title gives the background:
"This reflection was delivered by Fr McDonagh on 10 June 2006 at a liturgy in London to celebrate the registration of the civil partnership of Martin Pendergast and Julian Filochowski."
Fr McDonagh states of this occasion that it is
"a prophetic one, at least a partial realization of a dream, leading us further along the road to being honourably Catholic."
Speaking particularly of "Martin and Julian", he concludes,
"In their being so honourably gay they have enabled us to be a little more honourably Catholic."
SOME BACKGROUND
Fr Enda McDonagh's address is given as "St Patrick's College, Maynooth". The Furrow is published from Maynooth which is a Pontifical University side by side with a seminary for the training of priests: now in fact now the only seminary for Ireland.

The registration last June of the civil partnership of Julian Filochowski and Martin Pendergast took place on the fifth anniversary of a special Mass, celebrated on 10 June 2001 to mark their 25 years of friendship. The Mass was to have been celebrated by Bishop Crowley (who attended) but at the last minute it was arranged that the celebrant of the Mass would be Fr Jim O'Keefe, then president of Ushaw seminary. Bishop Crowley was quoted as saying,
"I want to make it perfectly clear at the outset that what is being celebrated at this Mass is, as the invitation card indicated, '25 years of friendship and commitment to justice.' It is simply that."
Julian Filochowski remained as director of CAFOD until 2003. The announcement of his retirement from the post was greeted by Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and Bishop Rawsthorne with warm tributes to his work. ("grateful thanks and appreciation of the Catholic community in England and Wales" ... "deep respect and gratitude not just in the parishes and dioceses of England and Wales but worldwide".)

Last year, "Opening Up", a collection of articles, edited by Julian Filochowski and Peter Stanford was published to mark the 60th birthday of Martin Pendergast. This includes a number of articles dissenting from the teaching of the magisterium, particularly on the question of homosexuality. (I wrote a review for Faith Magazine.)

CAFOD, an agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has promoted the idea that condoms are a legitimate part of a risk reduction strategy in combating AIDS. In 2004, a paper was presented by Ann Smith entitled An understanding of HIV prevention from the perspective of a faith-based development agency. This gives a comprehensive outline of CAFOD's policy in this area. The paper refers to an article by Enda McDonagh Theology in a time of AIDS. This argues for the acceptance of the use of condoms as a "lesser evil". CAFOD's approach was strongly defended by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Bishop Rawsthorne in a letter sent to all the priests of England and Wales. The first editorial of the 29 April 2006 issue of The Tablet (click on "sample issue") promotes the same approach. (Julian Filochowski is a Director of The Tablet.)

(At my parish website, there is a page of links related to AIDS, Condoms and the Catholic Church, together with a link to an article I have written on this question. The article includes criticism of CAFOD's policy.)
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