BRISTOL, September 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprise move, the bishop of the English diocese of Clifton, Declan Lang, has cancelled a lecture by a theology professor because of her support for “same-sex marriage”. Tina Beattie is a popular liberal-feminist professor at the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Catholic Studies at Roehampton University, and was to deliver a lecture this month titled, “Mary: Mother of God and a model of a pilgrim people – Lumen Gentium”.
The diocese said that Beattie was dropped because she had signed a letter, published in the Times August 13, supporting the government’s plans to create “gay marriage”.
“In the light of the controversy over a recent letter which appeared in the Times, signed by Professor Beattie and 27 others, about proposals to extend marriage to same-sex partnerships, in discussion with Professor Beattie, Clifton Diocese has decided to cancel the lecture,” the diocese said. The lecture was part of a series put on by the diocese to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Beattie responded that she is “deeply saddened” at the decision to cancel the lecture. The lecture was cancelled, she said, after “representations were made” to Bishop Lang. “I deeply regret any personal embarrassment I may have caused Bishop Declan,” she said. “He is a wise and pastorally sensitive leader who has earned the respect of many of us in his diocese.
Beattie continued, saying she hopes she will “be able to continue to contribute towards the educational life of the diocese as I have for many years.”
She defended the letter – that was also signed by a who’s-who list of leaders of the English Catholic Church’s homosexualist movement – saying she stands by it and that it did not take a position either way about “gay marriage.”
Beattie has never hesitated to publicly oppose Catholic teaching and disciplines on most of the usual topics close to the heart of the left within the Church, including female ordination, homosexuality and contraception. She writes regularly on religious topics for Britain’s left-leaning daily newspaper the Guardian and is a contributor and director of the Tablet, the country’s leading liberal Catholic magazine. She has heavily criticised Pope Benedict, calling his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, a “culpably naive approach to the problem of over-population.”
Beattie’s baffled response to being dropped for her public dissent from Catholic teaching is unsurprising, since it is the first time she has been publicly admonished by a member of the English Catholic hierarchy, particularly Bishop Lang with whom she maintains close relations.
In September 2010, following the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain, Beattie said on a BBC television programme that the decision by the Anglican Communion to ordain women priests was “prophetic”. She claimed that it is inevitable the Catholic Church will follow suit, despite the statement by the late pope John Paul II that the Church has no power to do so. Appearing on the programme with her was the Catholic bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Keiran Conry, who said nothing to correct her. Conry responded, “Well, according to Pope John Paul II, this was a definitive statement, wasn’t it, so I couldn’t possibly comment.”
The letter to the Times, signed by 27 prominent dissenting Catholics, said, “Not all Catholics share their hierarchy’s stated views against proposals to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples.”
It continued, “In 1997 Cardinal Hume wrote that love between two persons, whether of the same sex, or of a different sex, is to be treasured and respected. This respect demands that such loving relationships be afforded social recognition according to social justice principles.”
“We suggest that it is perfectly proper for Catholics, using fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.”
Beattie’s teaching topics include the “theologies and theories of gender,” theology and the arts, and religion and human rights. Her books include “God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate” (2002) and “New Catholic Feminism: Theology and Theory” and she is currently working on a book, “Nature, God and Gender after Postmodernity”. An early article was titled, “‘Mary, the Virgin Priest?”
As a spokesman for the Catholic Church, she is popular with the mainstream media and appears regularly on radio and television programmes by the BBC, Sky News and Al Jazeera, Radio 4, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and RTE (Ireland).
In August last year, Telegraph columnist and longtime critic of the English bishops, Damian Thompson wrote about the “ubiquitous” Beattie’s scheduled appearance in Clifton for the lecture series, saying there is a “double standard” at work within the English Catholic Church.
“Attacks on papal policies from the Left count as debate whereas the invocation of conservative papal documents counts as troublemaking.”