Note from Saint Louis Catholic: there is an error in the description of supernumeraries of Opus Dei in this article, which conflates the description of them with that of numeraries. See the comments box for clarification and further discussion.
Under the new Sexual-Orientation Regulations, it will be illegal for a teacher in any school, including a Catholic school, to state that homosexual activity is morally wrong, and that this is a teaching that should be accepted as true. A teacher could be prosecuted if a pupil were able to claim that, by teaching the sinfulness of homosexual activity, the teacher had discriminated against him and caused him to feel hurt or humiliated.
Ruth Kelly was the prime mover of this legislation. She is the Labor Government’s secretary of state for communities and local government and minister for women. She is also a Catholic who has been the target of public criticism due to her involvement with the personal prelature Opus Dei.
Also affected are all private businesses that offer goods and services of any kind. Thus, a photographer or wedding caterer who declined to do business with a lesbian or homosexual couple’s planned “wedding” could also be prosecuted, as could the owner of a bed-and-breakfast business who declined to offer a double bed to two homosexuals.
Despite a last-minute attempt in the House of Lords to get the government to reconsider, and a torchlight vigil by Christians outside Parliament, the legislation was passed and will take effect April 30. Catholic adoption agencies have been given two years in which to make arrangements to comply with the new laws. It could mean that they are forced to close. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster, has accused the government of abusing Parliamentary democracy. “During the House of Commons committee meeting, opportunity for serious debate was denied,” he said. He issued a statement after the House of Commons was not given an opportunity to have a full debate on the regulations, but only a single vote late one night when few members of Parliament were able to be present. “Profound public concern about aspects of these regulations has not been heard,” he said.
Attention has focused on the position of Ruth Kelly, who, as government minister, had the task of bringing the regulations into law. It had been assumed that, as a Catholic, she would have reservations about introducing so draconian a law, which will have the effect of making it illegal for a Catholic teacher in a Catholic school to present the Catholic teaching as true, and of forcing businesses and organizations to accept a homosexual civil union as equivalent to a male/female marriage; but she has said that she is glad and proud about the new laws. “This is a major step forward in ensuring dignity, respect and fairness for all,” she said after an effort to block the regulations failed in the House of Lords March 21.
Debate in the upper chamber focused on how the law would curtail freedom of religion. “It cannot be right in a decent, tolerant society that a shopkeeper or restaurant can refuse to serve a customer” because he is homosexual, Kelly said.
Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, published March 13, specifically deals with the position of Catholics in politics who support legislation of this type. The Pope states in Sacramentum Caritatis that: “Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: It demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children, and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them.”
The original text is even stronger, since it says that “Bishops are bound to affirm constantly these precepts…”
Andrew Soane, a spokesman for Opus Dei in London, confirmed that Kelly is a supernumerary of Opus Dei (most members are supernumeraries, are celibate, and live in Opus Dei residences) He said the personal prelature was waiting for some guidance from the bishops of England and Wales with regard to her, and acknowledged that they had had several letters, e-mails and phone inquiries from Catholics on the subject. “If the Bishops were to indicate that she had done something wrong, then Opus Dei would certainly be supportive of the bishops and of the Church,” he said.
Kelly could not be reached for comment.
Tony Blair — whose wife Cherie is a Catholic and a prominent supporter of Planned Parenthood and of homosexual rights — attended a celebration dinner held by Stonewall, Britain’s leading militant homosexual-rights lobby group, to celebrate the passing of the new laws. He said that he was thrilled by the legislation, which would have the effect of “enabling people to stand proud as they are” and told the group, “We couldn’t have done it without you.” Referring to earlier legislation introducing official civil unions for homosexual couples, he described the glee he experienced when watching Britain’s first “gay wedding” on the television news, and said he gave “a little skip of joy.”
All schools, including Catholic schools, already receive much official material on homosexuality and denouncing “homophobia.” This is likely to increase under the new laws. The Stonewall dinner raised more than $58,000, which will be used for its “educational projects,” and substantial public funding is also likely to be allocated. Catholic teachers, fearing prosecution, will be likely to obey the new laws unless they receive direction from the bishops’ conference.
Joanna Bogle writes from London
Comments: This blog has covered the slide towards totalitarianism in the UK in other stories– this totalitarianism of secular humanism is all done in the name of diversity, tolerance and individual rights. George Orwell describes such Government control quite well. Of course, there is diversity, tolerance and rights for everyone but Catholics, and for everything but the truth.
When will the Church make its stand, and where will this all end? Pray more than ever for the Holy Father, and for our Bishops.
Moreover, I don’t understand why Opus Dei, reputed to be a stalwart of Catholic orthodoxy, cannot quickly and publicly disavow Kelly’s stance and actions, without simply directing inquiries “down the hall” to the UK Bishops.
At some point, the Church will stand up for the truth. Then, its enemies will do their worst. But how many will have the grace of fortitude to rally to the standard?
As our Lord remarked, When the Son of Man returns, will He find any faith on the earth?