On May 16, 2015, Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis had named Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP, whom The Boston Globe’s Catholic website CRUX calls “a strong ally of Pope Francis,” a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Note: The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP) is a department of the Roman Curia — the administrative apparatus of the Holy See — dedicated to “action-oriented studies” for the international promotion of justice, peace, and human rights from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church. Proposed by the Second Vatican Council “to stimulate the Catholic Community to foster progress in needy regions and social justice on the international scene,” PCJP was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967.
The pope appoints roughly 40 members and consultors to the PCJP, according to their background and experience, who serve for five years, giving input to the planning for the Council. Vatican.va states that when the PCJP gathers for assemblies, it’s for discernment of the “signs of the times” — whatever that means.
Here’s Vatican Radio’s bio of 70-year-old Radcliffe:
Ordained in 1971, Fr Timothy is a long-time friend and contributor to Vatican Radio’s English Service. He is a well-known preacher and speaker, and author of several books including What is the point of being a Christian? He served as Master of the Dominican Order from 1992 until 2001 and is now resident at the Dominican Priory at Blackfriars, Oxford (U.K.). He has been a member of the Las Casas Advisory Board and Director of the Institute. He is an Honorary Doctor of Divinity at the University of Oxford.
Las Casas is a “social justice” institute.
Vatican Radio, however, left out a great deal about Radcliffe that should be of concern to traditional, orthodox, conservative Catholics.
- In 2005, as the Vatican deliberated the admission of men with homosexual tendencies to study for the priesthood in the wake of the Church sex abuse scandal, Radcliffe said homosexuality should not bar men from the priesthood and that those who oppose it should be banned. (Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, eventually ruled that men with homosexual tendencies are to be barred from being priests.)
- In a 2006 religious education lecture in Los Angeles, Radcliffe said, “We must accompany [gay people] as they discern what this means, letting our images be stretched open. This means watching ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ reading gay novels, living with our gay friends and listening with them as they listen to the Lord.”
- As a contributor to the 2013 Anglican Pilling Report on human sexual ethics, Radcliffe said of homosexuality: “How does all of this bear on the question of gay sexuality? We cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means, and how far it is Eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual and non-violent. So in many ways, I would think that it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift. We can also see how it can be expressive of mutual fidelity, a covenantal relationship in which two people bind themselves to each other for ever.”
Radcliffe often celebrated Mass for the U.K. dissident group Soho Masses Pastoral Council (now renamed the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council). He is also a supporter of the proposal of to allow communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Pope Francis’ appointment of Fr. Radcliffe has drawn criticism from many Catholics. Some examples:
- London, Ontario’s Father Paul Nicholson said in his blog that observers can wonder how much Pope Francis knows about Father Radcliffe: “The Holy Father is only a man, and is limited in how much he can know about any and every appointment. His primary language is Spanish and perhaps he has not been sufficiently briefed. And that may be done intentionally by those around him.”
- The Scottish blog Catholic Truth called it an “absolutely shocking papal appointment” and that “It’s very clear indeed now, that to be ‘a priest in good standing’ means to be opposed to all that is truly Catholic – and that includes true morals.”
- Rorate Caeli calls Radcliffe “Uber-liberal” and that while “It is true that Radcliffe has ‘opposed’ ‘gay marriage,’ but his farcical ‘opposition’ rests on grounds entirely contrary to those of the Church: Radcliffe opposes it because, in his words: ‘gay marriage’ ultimately, we believe, demeans gay people by forcing them to conform to the straight world.” Caeli points out that “Radcliffe’s acceptability has just received a major upgrade with this latest appointment,” which is “A tremendous slap to the face of so many good Catholics who had opposed him out of fidelity to the faith.”
Francis’ appointment of Timothy Radcliffe and the fact that not only is Radcliffe still a practicing priest, but he’s using his position to spread homosexual propaganda, are all in violation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
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