Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Pope Anthony I?

In an interview with a gay magazine (reported on by The Times), former British Prime Minster Tony Blair apparently knows better than Pope Benedict XVI about sexual morality, specifically regarding homosexuality. The following is the report from The Times with my comments in red.

From The Times
April 8, 2009

Tony Blair tells the Pope: you're wrong on homosexuality

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

Tony Blair has challenged the “entrenched” attitudes of the Pope on homosexuality, and argued that it is time for him to “rethink” his views.
[These supposed "views" of the pope aren't his views at all but rather the perennial teaching of the Church.]

Speaking to the gay magazine Attitude, the former Prime Minister, himself now a Roman Catholic, said that he wanted to urge religious figures everywhere to reinterpret their religious texts to see them as metaphorical, not literal, and suggested that in time this would make all religious groups accept gay people as equals. [Do you see how this could be led to an extreme? The religious texts referring to not murdering people could also be "reinterpreted." If we reinterpret the ban on homosexuality, what might also be reinterpreted? At what point do we stop reinterpreting?]

Asked about the Pope’s stance, Mr Blair blamed generational differences and said: “We need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith.” [What Mr. Blair is saying here is that our religious views should be in step with our culture's zeitgeist. He's being many things here (among them a heretic for wilfully denying Catholic moral doctrine), but one thing he isn't being is original--many have for years criticized the Church for being out of step with "the times."]

The Pope, who is 82, remains firmly opposed to any relaxation of the Church’s traditional stance on homosexuality, contraception or any other area of human sexuality. He has described homosexuality as a “tendency” towards an “intrinsic moral evil”. [The Pope cannot "relax" the Church's "traditional stance" on sexual morality. It's Church teaching, not his opinion!]

Mr Blair, who now travels the world on behalf of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to promote understanding of the main religions, left the Church of England for Rome soon after leaving office in 2007. [I remember well the news coverage of his conversion. His track record as Prime Minister brought many--myself included--to have doubts about his conversion and future adherence to the One True Faith, but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. If he continues with questioning the Faith, I hope he leaves the Church to prevent scandal and comes back when he is ready and willing to submit to the Church in it's entirety.]

In the interview Mr Blair spoke of a “quiet revolution in thinking” and implied that he believed the Pope to be out of step with the public. [Once again, the Faith must not be based on popular opinions of the day but rather based on unchanging principles established by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with the Supreme Pontiff as his representative on earth.]

“There are many good and great things the Catholic Church does, and there are many fantastic things this Pope stands for, [A common tactic of dissenting Catholics--praise the "good things" the Church does while criticizing the Church for having moral standards they consider to be too preachy, too condemnational, too harsh. "The way the Church acts," they think, "one would think the Church is trying to get us to Heaven or something. All I want to do is enjoy my life." Oh yeah, the Church is trying to get us to Heaven!] but I think what is interesting is that if you went into any Catholic Church, particularly a well attended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you’d be surprised at how liberal-minded people were.” The faith of ordinary Catholics is rarely found “in those types of entrenched attitudes”, he said. [He is right--many Catholics do not accept Church teaching, and that's a major problem!]

He also thought that in Islam there would eventually be a change of heart. “I believe that, ultimately, people will find their way to a sensible reformation of attitudes.” [I think the Muslims would be offended by this remark.]

People’s thinking had changed fundamentally, he added. “Now, that doesn’t mean to say there’s not still a lot of homophobia and a lot of things to be done. But the fact that it is unacceptable for any mainstream political party to be anything other than on the side of equality and respect is, in a way, the biggest change. The items of individual legislation matter a lot, but I think it’s the general shift in climate that is perhaps the most important point." [So is he suggesting that religious teaching should be influenced by political legislation? That would be a nightmare come true.]

He said: “When people quote the passages in Leviticus condemning homosexuality, I say to them — if you read the whole of the Old Testament and took everything that was there in a literal way, as being what God and religion is about, you’d have some pretty tough policies across the whole of the piece.”

He continued: “What people often forget about, for example, Jesus or, indeed, the Prophet Muhammad, is that their whole raison d’ĂȘtre was to change the way that people thought traditionally.” [Seems to me that if Jesus wanted to change people's traditional thoughts on homosexuality He would have said something about it, and since it would have been such a radical move from previous sexual mores, the Evangelists would have recorded it, but alas, nothing of the sort exists in any of the four Gospels.]

No change in the Catholic Church’s stance is likely under the present leadership. [Or any other "leadership" for that matter.] The Church in England and Wales, which has been more liberal, is expected to move rightwards under the new Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, who has become increasingly conservative since becoming a bishop and archbishop.

While some converts become more conservative than those born to Roman Catholicism, the interview with Attitude’s Johann Hari shows that Mr Blair has allied himself firmly with the Church’s liberal wing. [I.e. the Church's internal enemies.]

Conventional wisdom was not necessarily wise, he said. “It can be wrong and it can be just a form of conservatism that hides behind a consensus. If you look back in time, through the suffragette movement, the fight against slavery, it’s amazing how the same arguments in favour of prejudice crop up again and again and again.”

He also claimed that the mood was changing in evangelical circles, which have been long been anti-gay — the source of the dispute that has taken the worldwide Anglican Communion to the brink of schism.

Referring to his contacts with evangelical groups in the US and elsewhere through the foundation, he said: “I think there is a generational shift that is happening. If you talk to the older generation, yes, you will still get a lot of pushback, and parts of the Bible quoted, and so on. But if you look at the younger generation of evangelicals, this is increasingly for them something that they wish to be out of — at least in terms of having their position confined to being anti-gay.” [Well I'm not an evangelical, but I am young (27 at the time of this writing), and if being "anti-gay" means opposing the homosexual lifestyle and holding to the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil and disordered, then yes, I am "anti-gay."]

Mr. Blair seems to think he knows better than the Church, and presumes to lecture the Pope about morals. I have this word of advice for Tony: either submit to the Church and the Supreme Pontiff or do us all a favor and get out! You will be most welcome back when you are properly humble.