When people say silly things, they deserve to be called out for it. Especially if they are a bishop.
And Bishop Michael Putney has done just that. He’s the Bishop of Townsville.
Recently he went on ABC radio and said “there’s no family that doesn’t have gay members”. You can hear that little gem at the 3:50 mark of this interview.
That is a really silly thing to say. Especially because it is patently not true.
There are plenty of families that don’t have members who are homosexuals or lesbians. In fact, most of them don’t.
But when bishops start spreading the lie that all families have at least one person who engages in this type of behaviour then you can bet that they will broadcast other dangerous messages as well.
Just as Bishop Putney did a little later in his interview. Because he went on to say that homosexuals and lesbians must know that they are loved and accepted.
That’s all well and good for a throwaway line. It contains a little truth and is glossed over with a veneer of niceness that does nothing to change the error within.
Homosexuals and lesbians should be loved because they are made in the image of God and are called to overcome weakness and become perfect, just like their Creator. But they should not be accepted just because they engage in a little casual sodomy.
Instead, bishops have a responsibility to tell homosexuals that it is not acceptable to live sordid lives. It means telling them that perverted sexual activity is wrong.
It certainly does not mean giving them the impression that they are special precisely because they live a life that is directly opposed to the great dignity that they are called to by God Himself.
But that is exactly what Bishop Putney did. He went on ABC radio and said that they should be loved and accepted, without making any effort to highlight the very clear teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual and lesbian behaviour is gravely immoral or that the inclination itself is intrinsically disordered.
Bishop Putney did homosexuals no favours at all by placing his desire to be nice above his responsibility as a Prince of the Church.
And it’s pretty hard for Bishop Putney to claim that he loves homosexuals while encouraging them as they skip merrily down a road that leads away from eternal happiness and onto eternal misery.
And the greater scandal than this was the lie he peddled that homosexuality is normal. Claiming that every family has a gay member is doing just that. It makes it sound like this lifestyle is perfectly ordinary. Bishop Putney is telling families that they should not just expect one of their children to be gay, but that they should be accepted for their way of life.
Homosexuality is not normal. And if our society has reached the point where every family does have a homosexual ready to leap out of the closet and into the welcoming arms of all and sundry then our society is not normal either, but headed for a very quick destruction.
And you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out.
The average Australian woman bears 1.89 children. It’s been around that mark since the mid 1970s. Considering that it takes two people to make a baby, that statistic should have alarm bells ringing anyway. Even more so if every family has a gay or lesbian member.
Because if every family has a gay member, then mum and dad are being replaced by 0.89 of a person.
If maths is not your strong point, and if Bishop Putney is correct, then this means that it takes three couples today to make one future couple for tomorrow.
That’s not sustainable. Especially when you consider that the 1.89 future grandchildren will need to care for three elderly heterosexual couples and their six retired gay siblings, as well as their own parents and the three lesbian uncles who spend their time planning for the next Mardi Gras.
It doesn’t sound like much fun. Especially if you are the non-gay kid, because while you do that it’ll take time away from your pursuit of an increasingly rare heterosexual partner so you can raise the suburb’s only child.
But while things are not great, they’re not that bad either. It’s obvious that Bishop Putney is wrong and most families, if rather small, are not raising a homosexual son or lesbian daughter. It is actually an outrageous lie to say otherwise. It would be useful for Bishop Putney to correct the record on this score.
And in the interests of Australian society, we want to keep it that way. If it does change, you can say goodbye to the future.
As for Bishop Putney, he needs prayers to fulfil his vocation. It is not an easy one and I do not write this piece lightly, nor do I intend to undermine his authority. I would love nothing more than to see Bishop Putney became a great leader of the Church, like those examples before him, such as St John Fisher, who gave his life to defend marriage.
I can also suggest that he starts spending some time with real Catholic families. They are the future of the Catholic Church. Instead, his own words make it clear that his circle of friends contains many homosexuals – even, it seems, within the priesthood. If there is anything that highlights so clearly the fallen state of the Catholic Church hierarchy, it is this admission on ABC radio by one of its Australian princes.
Below are some words from St Thomas Aquinas regarding principles that lay faithful should adhere to when dealing with superiors who publicly stray from clear Catholic teaching:
St. Thomas Aquinas, in many passages of his works, upholds the principle that the faithful can question and admonish Prelates. For example: “There being an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glosa of St. Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2, 14), ‘St. Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if sometimes they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects.” 1
Referring to the same episode, in which St. Paul resisted St. Peter “to his face,” St. Thomas teaches: “The reprehension was just and useful, and the reason for it was not trivial: there was a danger for the preservation of evangelical truth… The way it took place was appropriate, since it was public and open. For this reason, St. Paul writes: ‘I spoke to Cephas,’ that is, Peter, ‘before everyone,’ since the simulation practiced by St. Peter was fraught with danger to everyone.” 2
The Angelic Doctor also shows how this passage of the Scriptures contains teachings not only for Hierarchs, but for the faithful as well: “To the Prelates [was given an example] of humility so that they do not refuse to accept reprehensions from their inferiors and subjects; and to the subjects, an example of zeal and liberty so they will not fear to correct their Prelates, above all when the crime is public and entails a danger for many.” 3
In his Comments on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, St. Thomas teaches how respectfully correcting a Prelate who sins is a work of mercy all the greater as the Prelate’s position is higher: “Eccl. XVII: 12 says that God ‘imposed on each one duties toward his neighbour.’ Now, a Prelate is our neighbour. Therefore, we must correct him when he sins. …… Some say that fraternal correction does not extend to the Prelates either because a man should not raise his voice against heaven, or because the Prelates are easily scandalized if corrected by their subjects. However, this does not happen, since when they sin, the Prelates do not represent heaven and, therefore, must be corrected. And those who correct them charitably do not raise their voices against them, but in their favour, since the admonishment is for their own sake. … For this reason, … the precept of fraternal correction extends also to the Prelates, so that they may be corrected by their subjects.
1. Summa Theologiae (Taurini/Rome: Marietti), 1948, II.II, q. 33, a. 4.
2. Super Epistulas S. Pauli, Ad Galatas, 2, 11-14 (TauriniRome: Marietti, 1953), lec. III, nn. 83f.
3. Ibid., n. 77.
4. IV Sententiarum, d. 19, q. 2, a. 2.