Friday 8 June 2012

Fr Timothy Radical O.P. –sorry! Fr Radcliffe: Catholic candidate for the Anglican See Canterbury

According to this Month’s edition of the Northern Cross (NC) Fr Radcliffe gave interesting Riddell Memorial lectures at Newcastle University recently. He is quoted as saying in his first lecture that (please note -even though my own typing can be poor- that the punctuation in the quotes is as found in the NC),

“The parables of Jesus lead to questioning, so the preaching of the Gospel happens when the hearer makes a difference to his life.”

There can be no disagreement with this statement since we all preach in order to solicit change by forming ourselves and our people in the teachings of the Gospel rather than the teachings of the world. Sadly, Fr Radcliffe appears to side with the world in his second lecture where he is quoted as saying,

“As a society we have lost faith in reason, contrary to that Christians believe in reason but do not practice it. If we did we would find the truth.
(Does this border on Modernism? Does it suggest that truth is gained through man’s reason apart from Divine Revelation? In charity we have to say that it’s possible that this quote has been given out of context.)
Christians should be tolerant but Churches are bastions of intolerance for instance to people of gay, lesbian or transgender orientation”.
(Apparently we are to tolerate things scripture says preclude us from inheriting the Kingdom of God (Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Such tolerance is not pastoral: it is to pretend to ‘gay, lesbian and transgender’ persons that their lifestyle is approved by God and that He was in error both when He inspired the Sacred Scriptures and as guided the Magisterium over the last two thousand years...)

During question time Fr Radcliffe was asked; What would you do if you were Pope? To which he replied,

“I would decentralise power and remove the temptation to control, and I would abolish silly titles like Monsignor and My Lord and would institute a new title called ‘My Servant’ and I would like myself to be called ‘Not Particularly Reverend’.”

I feel sure those latter remarks are typical of Fr Radcliffe’s humour. Sadly Anglican Bishop Wharton of Newcastle was said to have been so impressed by Fr Radcliffe that in his concluding remarks he invited the former Master of the Dominicans to take up the vacant (Anglican) See of Canterbury. That tongue-in-cheek remark may be seen as a compliment but it seems to me to hold a rather disturbing disparagement: that Fr Radcliffe is more Protestant than Catholic. Father Radcliffe is surely more faithful than this article suggests, or am I wrong?


  1. I think Fr, that you over interpret the phrase ending "...intolerance for instance to people of gay, lesbian or transgender orientation". The catechism asks us to be tolerant of these, and others. You seem to assume that the tolerance is asked for sinful behaviour resulting from such orientations, but that is not what the quote seems to say (assuming it is a verbatim quotation of course). I knew Fr Radcliffe many years ago, and remember him being both quick to humour, but also very specific and accurate with his words.

    1. Thank you for the comment. As I said, Father Radcliffe is surely more faithful than this article suggests, and noted that he is known for his sense of humour. But his use of the phrase “bastions (which can mean ‘stronghold’ or ‘defender’) of intolerance” strikes me as a poor choice of words if Father actually believes Catholics give the necessary respect to homosexual and transgender persons while merely disapproving of their lifestyle.

  2. He is I think referring to the propensity of any group to form intolerences over time; he uses just one example, that of intolerance of sexual orientation, but is clearly referring to general intolerance in a community. That is just reminding us of our weaknesses and exhorting us as Christians to be aware of our failings towards others.

  3. Is it not the case, Fr Gary, that we have to accept the 'sexual orientation' but not those who are actively homosexual - I deplore the use of the word 'gay'. If we don't accept this how can we accept heterosexual but celibate priests? We accept that their sexual orientation is heterosexual but are happy unless they become 'active' hetrosexuals.

    1. We do indeed accept the person, but since the homosexual orientation is a disorder arising from original sin (as do all our faults and weaknesses) I don't think we can say that we accept the orientation per se. Persons are always to be accepted and valued as being of equal dignity, but just as if there is some activity harming the body a Doctor or nurse must call attention to that harm, so if there is something harming our soul a Christian must call attention to that harm. I'm not sure the analogy with heterosexuality works, because heterosexuality is not a disorder; heterosexual clergy being sexually active is simply sinful, but not disordered.

  4. Given the huge amount of Catholic clergy who are of gay orientation I found the above comment very interesting.When we were at Ushaw I would have conservatively estimated the student population to be at least sixty to seventy percent gay !Are we to assume the Catholic priesthood is therefore predominantly disordered ?

  5. I think the statistic of 60-70% is way too high. We have all known men, seminarians or not, who have an effeminate manner; however, could we say they were actually homosexual? And what if seminaries are like prisons where inmates are disposed towards what is called ‘situational sexual behaviour’ (this is men who are normally heterosexual choosing a partner from the inmate population to satisfy their sexual or emotional needs, reverting back to heterosexuality on release)? Such a phenomenon may be seen as an argument for allowing seminarians to train in Universities while residing with a priest. I am not so sure. Perhaps the late 20th Century, with its focus on self-actualisation and ‘getting in touch with one’s feminine side’ fed the situational homosexual behaviour in seminaries.

    David asks if ‘we are to assume the Catholic priesthood is therefore predominantly disordered?’ well, we can ask, but isn’t every human person disordered in their individual ways: one addicted to pornography; another to self-pleasuring, another to some fetish, another to pride or violence? We are not likely to see a humanity or a priesthood free from the disorder of sin in this world.

    1. Have you spent four years studying for the priesthood in a seminary? If not,on what basis do you disagree ?
      I have ,and I stand by my estimation of 60-70 % of students being gay,and I sincerely believe it to be an under estimation.


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