Valerie Tarisco intimated, ‘if paedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you the Catholic leadership is often anything but moral ...’It is invariably funny when some crusty auld conservative stands up in one of those funny bishop’s hats to hector people on how to conduct the sexual dimension of their lives. They don’t seem to get it that on issues of morality they are paid as much attention as circus performers. Who would have their sex life prescribed by Bongo the Clown? As
Australian bishops seem not to like their foreign colleagues hogging all the ridicule and occasionally go in search for a piece of it themselves. Georgie Boy Pell, the Aussie cardinal exemplified this by explaining to the world how Jews were intellectually inferior to the Egyptians and that the Germans were punished like no other people in history. During a televised interview the audience clapped as the presenter cut the tripe out of him.
Now Ireland has seen another one that has escaped from the circus. Barry James Hickey is Archbishop Emeritus of Perth in Western Australia. The Aussies can produce them for sure. Internationally renowned for the didgeridoo, the dingo, and the dinosaur – the latter embodied by the Young Earth Creationist looper Ken Ham – convicts and others were often sent from Ireland to Australia. Now it seems the Aussies are sending them back.
Hickey told the Eucharistic congress last month that ‘the truth is not respected when couples defy church teaching on contraception.’ Which just means that his opinion, not the truth per se, experiences a respect deficiency. When ignored or laughed at, which is frequently the case, his sense of entitlement is offended. ‘Such defiance ... causes mistrust of Christ’s mandate to teach on matters of human sexuality.’ Why defiance rather than dissent? There is no moral authority there for people to defy, just a religious opinion to be disagreed with. Conceit alone sees disagreement as defiance. How dare you defy your bishop little man and woman; deference not defiance is his due. You must give it to him.
How could the Church teach on anything pertaining to sex when it has been so immersed in the sexual abuse of children? It may continue teaching of course, just as the Caleb Foundation can continue insisting that the earth is flat or younger than Sumerian glue. But if people decide they no longer want to learn from the Church their right prevails and the Church has no further say on the matter. Hickey may protest that the world has ignored and even ridiculed Catholic teaching on sexuality. He can hardly claim to wonder why.
Hickey, like most of these creatures of the cloth, seems not to like same sex relationships. Not happy enough to decline to indulge he wants to stick his nose into the affairs of others who seek to make different choices. Because of ‘the pressure to change the very definition of marriage from a union of a man and a woman to a union of two persons of the same sex ... the Christian ideal of marriage is under great threat.’ This, like so much these men of god spout, is simply not true. Christians are still allowed to marry. They cannot be coerced into marrying someone they do not want to, although they insist on forced marriage themselves by opposing divorce, compelling people to remain within a marriage long after its shelf life has expired. Christians are under no compulsion whatsoever to enter a same sex marriage. To the contrary, Christians of the Hickey mould want to force people out of such unions.
What is being eroded is not marriage at all, but the idea that the ‘Christian marriage’ can be imposed on others who do not want it including the vast number of people who are not Christian. Hickey’s comments that ‘increasingly marriage is being promoted as only one of many options in human sexual relationships’ shows that the real concern here is that the power of the Catholic Church is being diluted as it is increasingly denied a monopoly on defining what marriage is. Not much wrong with that in a world that can live with pluralism and diversity. Practice your religion but only on yourself.
As for Hickey’s almost despairing comment that he can only ‘pray that the world will listen.’ Not much chance of that when what is being prayed to never listens either.