I’m sorry Archbishop Porteous, but you are wrong

One of the reasons we have bishops is to explain the wisdom of the Catholic Church.

Not that you would know this from their recent public pronouncements. Because going by these, you could be forgiven for thinking that they preferred instead to hide or obscure the Church’s clear cut teachings.

First we had Bishop Putney from Townsville tell us that each and every family had a gay member. Then he waxed lyrical on the ABC for some time about the Church and homosexuality, without once mentioning what the Church’s actual position on this topical issue is.

Now we’ve got Archbishop Porteous, newly installed as the head of the Archdiocese of Hobart. He’s gone one step further than his northern brother and actually started advocating the exact opposite of Catholic teaching.

This time the subject wasn’t the perversion of sexuality, but rather life itself.

The two are connected you know. You don’t get the latter without the former. That’s why sexuality is so important. It actually allows us to work cooperatively with God Himself in the creation of new life.

But Archbishop Porteous didn’t mention anything about the sanctity of life when he wrote about Tasmania’s new abortion free-for-all on 30 November.

Instead, he wrote this:

“A doctor or counsellor can calmly outline the various options and their consequences- abortion, having the child and putting it up for adoption, having the child and keeping it. In each instance there are an array of consequences both good and bad. These can be outlined to the woman to assist her in making an informed decision.”

In case you didn’t quite get the Archbishop’s drift, he stated that abortion can have positive consequences. And that supporting life can be negative.

Which is a little surprising coming from a Catholic bishop with a duty to uphold the Church’s teaching.

For his benefit, because he clearly is not familiar with the Catholic Church’s position, abortion is gravely immoral. It is one of the few acts that carries the penalty of excommunication for those who formally cooperate in it.

Not that the Catholic politicians who formerly cooperate in abortion by legalising it, defending it and administering it would know. The bishops never talk about excommunication. They are silent. Which, given their duty to point out error, is kind of like formal cooperation as well.

So I’m sorry Archbishop Porteous, but you are wrong. Dead wrong.

Abortion is not good in any circumstances. It is gravely evil. Every single time.

And Archbishop Porteous should know that.

Archbishop Porteous’ comments are bad enough but they are also hypocritical. In one breath, he claims that women should be assisted to make an informed choice. Yet in his whole entire article he did not once provide the information that they most need to hear from a bishop to make a truly informed decision.

If you have an abortion you head towards Hell because you take a child’s life.

I would’ve thought that was a pretty important thing for women contemplating abortion to know about.

And while Archbishop Porteous did raise post-abortion grief, there was no mention that those struggling with guilt can find relief through the Catholic sacrament of Penance and the power of forgiveness. Again, that might have been something that many women dealing with depression and mental anguish might have been comforted to read.

Instead, Archbishop Porteous wrote about why women need access to impartial advisors who can calmly explain all the options – including those that result in the death of their growing child.

One of the great frustrations that Catholic Australians have is that supposedly Catholic politicians, time and again, vote against Catholic teaching on black and white issues of objective morality.

And the reason for that is not hard to find. Catholic bishops give them every opportunity to do so.

They are silent during the debate. They are silent after it happens. They are irrelevant.

Every other stakeholder makes a point of outlining their position – publicly. Every other side expends time and effort ensuring that the politicians know the public consequences if they fail to support their cause.

Yet the Catholic Church, with the largest grass-roots organisation in Australia, sits mute and inert.

What a waste. What a dereliction of duty.

Even worse, when the bishops do speak, the only politicians who can use their words to support their case are the ones voting for objective evil.

Certainly a pro-life politician could not table Archbishop Porteous’ words in parliament. He’d be laughed out of the chamber by his opposition. They would jump on the fact that Archbishop Porteous’ words clearly support the belief that abortion can be good. And they would use the Archbishop’s text to justify their support of pro-abortion ‘reform’.

Just in case you don’t believe me and need a few examples, go and look at the website of Australian Marriage Equality – the leading homosexual marriage lobby group. Bishop Putney got a right-royal write up on their pages. He didn’t get such a good write up on the web pages of the pro-marriage groups. What pro-marriage group wants to highlight a Catholic bishop that spreads the lie that every family has a homosexual member?

Or go and look at the Hansard of Queensland parliament. The former Archbishop of Brisbane had his letter tabled by pretty much every pro-surrogacy politician during the 2010 debate. One of them even used his letter to justify homosexual surrogacy. That’s because Archbishop Bathersby said the Catholic Church did not oppose the decriminalisation of surrogacy. The few politicians who voted against surrogacy were not so fortunate to have a Catholic bishop in their corner.

When the media is so ferocious in its attack on pro-life and pro-family politicians, who can really blame them for failing to fight? Especially when the Catholic artillery crumps pro-life politicians with ‘friendly fire’ more often than landing any blows on the enemy.

We have a moral crisis in this country. It starts with the bishops. And it will remain while they are too afraid to speak clearly and confidently. Even worse, the situation will deteriorate while the bishops actually promote grave evils like abortion.

Archbishop Porteous has done just that. He should correct the record immediately.


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.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. Malcolm Turnbull continues to publicly advocate policies in direct opposition to his supposed Catholic Faith, and yet not one Australian Bishop, Archbishop Porteous included, is prepared to apply canon 915 to refuse Hoiy Communion to this notorious apostate. We need to renew our prayers that our mitred Vatican 2 interfaith activists will grow some backbone in the new year, and stop acting like frightened “deer caught in the headlights” to quote “big-bang” and then apes-to-man Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

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  2. I see nothing in Mr Gaynor’s article or in his comments that follow which show a breach in charity has occurred through his blogging of this episode.

    ‘Archbishop Porteous has been a great supporter of, and participant in, the pro-life movement.’

    ‘Archbishop Porteous wrote very unhelpful and counterproductive comments to the pro-life cause during the recent abortion debate in Tasmania and the damage done would be significantly exacerbated by virtue of his position.’

    Both of these sentiments, variously expressed, are true. One cannot criticise a commentator for proffering either remark. The mistake would be that in doing so a person pretended the other statement is untrue. I too hope for a clarification so that the first statement continues to be true and the second statement is exploded into oblivion by the forceful re-presentation of Church’s absolute condemnation of abortion in every circumstance. Knowing Abp Porteous a little I hope and expect this to occur.

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  3. I think most of us would agree that Archbishop Porteus shows all the indications of an Opus Dei initiate, possibly with more serious arcane masonic connections and as such IS NOT mainstream Catholic community.

    His appointment went practically unnoticed but is proof of the great trust Benedict XVI had in the Opus Dei as part of his strategy to silently clean up the Roman Curia in the aftermath of the Vatileaks scandals, financial impropriety and widespread rumours of a Vatican-protected child-sex slavery operation mounted under cover of missionary work.

    It appears more recent papal appointments are anything but a coincidence. As a priest, Opus Dei initiates ensure a greater resistance to temptation as well as restoring people’s trust in the Pope and in the Church. Honesty in other words.

    We remain sad that the now widely recognised heretical “Work” has not put their fine worldwide network in the service of the most important document of Pope Benedict XVI, the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, in honor of the Mass celebrated by their founder from the day of his Ordination. But there should be no doubt that their members are usually quite careful in the way they work and in what they say. Here’s hoping that a priest of Holy Cross and Opus Dei is soon named to the presidency of the Pontifical Council for the Family…or indeed, lets face it – the humble outsider, Archbishop Porteous.

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    • The Opie Dopies are a dangerous money-hungry cult masquerading as conservatives. Let’s hope that Archbishop Porteous is not tied up with that mob, though it may help explain his recent weasel-words (which still have not been retracted) in support of informed “choice”. Opie Dopies are notorious cowards – they never had the balls to stand up against Vatican 2 errors and the revolutionary new Mass.

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    • The Opie Dopies are a dangerous money-hungry cult masquerading as conservatives. Let’s hope that Archbishop Porteous is not tied up with that mob, though it may help explain his recent weasel-words (which still have not been retracted) in support of informed “choice”. Opie Dopies are notorious cowards – they never had the balls to stand up against Vatican 2 errors and the revolutionary new Mass.

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  4. JMJ
    Hi Bernard,
    Your ‘concern’ on Bishop Porteous .. is this the same bishop that lead the “40Days” in Surry Hills??
    Reading the ‘letter’ .. “A doctor or counselor can calmly outline the various options and their consequences- abortion, having the child and putting it up for adoption, having the child and keeping it. In each instance there are an array of consequences both good and bad. These can be outlined to the woman to assist her in making an informed decision.”
    the word ‘abortion’ seems on it’s own, as are the other options, with no details expressing what the consequences of abortion, adoption and keeping of the child are..
    I must agree though… appropriate diplomacy was amiss, (.as in “..In each instance there are an array of consequences both good and bad..”.. I suppose the only ‘good’ consequence to the ‘option’ of abortion is NOT to take the option) but not one that would indicate him as agreeing with abortion as a valid option… and i suppose that would be for anyone who ‘knows’ Bishop Porteous..
    Anyhow.. you had your shot.. now go back to praying 🙂
    God bless you and your family over this Christmas.. and keep up the good fight!

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    • Thanks Vladimir – I have received a quite a few responses indicating that Archbishop Porteous has been very supportive of the pro-life movement. I hope that is the case and I would expect nothing less from an Archbishop. Furthermore, I am more than happy to highlight his good work in the past. Unfortunately, a poor choice of words will bring it all unstuck if it is not clarified. I do pray for him and all bishops and priests. At the end of the day, they are the Church leaders and we need them to be strong.

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  5. Thanks for your recent comments Bernard. I have admired your work for a while now and respect your opinions on a range of issues. However I felt your tone in this case lacked the respect I think +Julian Porteous has earned over many years and that many people reading this article may not know of his own strong pro-life convictions. I am pleased for the clarification of your position and I have emailed the Archbishop and suggested that it might be worthwhile correcting his statement. I hope and pray this is forthcoming.

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    • If Archbishop Porteous is so pro-life as many here claim, why has he never prevented pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull from receiving Holy Communion in his diocese as required by canon 915??? Archbishop Porteous should contact Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura for lessons on how to grow a backbone.

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  6. Mishka I will have to disagree with you about Bernard not condemning but just trying to correct the Archbishop. I was contacted by a supporter who alerted me to this story and her belief was the same. Whether or not however I didn’t suggest the article be “encouraged” but that the Archbishop be encouraged and supported. I agreed in my post that this is a poor choice of words but my point is that he is a very good man and more importantly a good Bishop. I think criticism of people in public positions should firstly be a private matter. If they refuse to recant a position expressed in the public domain whether made by mistake or error then they can be criticised publicly. I don’t know if Bernard has done this and I didn’t know you had. I would have petitioned him likewise had I read the article when it first appeared and encouraged him to clarify his thoughts. I will be doing so now. What I do know is that he is extremely busy and I haven’t been able to communicate with him except by email and text due to his overworked schedule.
    I have been an active participant in the pro-life movement for nearly 20 years so the effect of abortion on individuals and on society is not lost on me. Likewise I am well versed on the teaching of the Church so I understand the importance of not cooperating in evil. My point is, so does Archbishop Julian Porteous who has taken over an Archdiocese which has been in a sad state of neglect for a long time and he needs the support of faithful Catholics and the Charity encumbent upon us as brothers in Christ. I didn’t feel that Bernard Gaynor’s article was in any way charitable even if he expressed it differently on another facebook page.

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    • Paul thank you for your comment. I do not criticise Church hierarchy lightly and I would much prefer not to. If Archbishop Porteous’ words are misleading and do not match his pro-life position (and I very much hope that this is the case) then I will be more than happy to pull this article and publicise his clarification. I will also be more than happy to step in behind him and support him for doing so.

      Furthermore, this is a public matter, not a private one. The Archbishop was contacted by several people who questioned his meaning. On his own webpage a comment was left a week before I published this piece. It asked: “@BishopJulianP are you saying bishop that given the right counselling etc, that women have a right to choose to have an abortion or not?”

      I am not the only one who has become concerned at his statement and one clearly needs to misinterpret his words to gain an understanding that abortion is always wrong.

      This is not about me versus the Archbishop, it is simply about whether Church’s teaching is being undermined by a poor choice of words or something more serious. And, as I am sure you do, I pray for the Archbishop. It is not an easy job and one of great responsibility. I hope that he does it well and leads many souls to Heaven.

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  7. I have known Archbishop Julian Porteous for 18 years and he is very pro-life! He is in fact the Patron of Family Life International Australia and was the Patron of 40 Days for Life in Sydney until his move to Hobart. He has led prayerful processions to abortion mills and said prayers of exorcism outside these places. He has stood for over an hour and prayed on the street with us many times with large numbers and with small numbers and he has always been very encouraging towards peaceful public prayer and “protest.” I haven’t spoken to him about these comments reported here and don’t need to in order to know it is nothing more than a poor choice of words in trying to express some “solutions” to deal with the consequences of the tyrannical unjust laws just passed in Tasmania. He needs your prayers and encouragement not your condemnation.

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    • I don’t think Bernard Gaynor has condemned Archbishop Porteous but is merely trying to correct him. I quote Bernard’s comment on the Right to Life Facebook page: “I hope and pray that it was a poor choice of words. A clarification is not weakness but will help to strengthen public understanding. I hope it is forthcoming. If it is I will remove this post because it will no longer be required.” None of us can be expected to “encourage” such an article when it goes against the teaching of the Church. This attitude that one should “support” one’s bishop by saying nothing is just like the attitude of so many Christians (and exemplified in + Porteous’s article) that says we should “support” women who are contemplating an abortion. I agree we should support women to reject abortion, but we are complicit in evil if we support her decision to kill her child, and we should not give tacit consent with our silence or “respect” her decision. Likewise, I will not encourage + Porteous to write more misleading and dangerous articles like this by remaining silent. I refrained from public criticism when his article first came out because I assumed it was just a mistake, and I contacted him privately begging him to clarify his words, but after twelve days I still have had no response. Here in Tasmania, less than two weeks ago one of + Porteous’s priests preached in the pulpit that we should not condemn abortion. We need an archbishop who provides clear moral teaching on this matter! It would be wrong to encourage this sort of equivocation and ambiguity.

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  8. I hope the Catholic church doesn’t go the way of some other churches who let their standards slip and become worldly churches instead of Godly ones. I have always respected the Catholic church’s stand on morality but if some people in positions of authority within the church start teaching doctrines that are in opposition to what the church stands for, those people should be removed if they do not repent of their false teachings. They may have a romantic idea that somehow they are martyrs for a ‘higher cause’ but they are actually leading the members of the church astray and away from Christs teachings so they are dangerous in that way. They deny the faith that they profess to believe in. they fail to understand that God does not condone wickedness.

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  9. I think Bishop Porteus made a mistake in the way he framed his words. I seriously doubt he intended to include abortion as an option. In view of his pro-life record that interpretation doesn’t make sense. I so hope he clarifies the statement, though.

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    • I agree totally with your observations Phil. I’m sure that St Ignatius of Loyola and Pope Francis would also agree with your charitable and balanced assessment of giving the benefit of the doubt whilst kindly seeking clarification.

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    • I agree, Phil. I know Bishop Porteous and he is both faithful to the church’s teaching and passionate about the pro-life cause. I think this is merely a matter of a poor choice of words. I believe what he meant to say was that there are things that might be perceived as positive. Or perhaps he meant that God can bring good out of any evil. I don’t know exactly, his statement needs further clarification; however I don’t believe for one second that he actually thinks there is something positive about abortion.

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  10. What’s so disappointing is that Archbishop Porteous has an excellent pro-life record and those who know him are convinced this article does not represent his actual beliefs. I am inclined to agree with them and pray he will have the wisdom and grace to retract what he said. I think the lesson to be learnt here is that we mustn’t allow compassion and empathy to cloud our moral reasoning or reassign responsibility. If we really love others, such as women who have abortions or even the abortionists who profit from murder, we must speak truthfully and withdraw our support. Just as a friend does not support someone who’s about to drink drive, a friend does not support a woman contemplating an abortion. The only information that a woman contemplating an abortion needs to make an informed decision is that abortion is homicide and (if she’s Catholic) that it incurs an automatic excommunication.

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    • My thoughts exactly Mishka, well put.

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  11. We get the bishops we deserve. If more people had the courage of Bernard Gaynor to stand up to all these mitred cowards, the Pope may be forced to think twice before appointing yet another limp-wristed lavenderite to destroy the diocese.

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  12. No doubt a novus ordo priest, our traditional priests and bishops stand for life… period….
    Any wonder the modern Catholic church worldwide is in severe decline whereas the Traditional Latin Catholic church is booming because it stands for the magisterium of the true church and has not been defiled by the modernists.
    Vatican 2 was a terrible mistake, pope Paul Vi even lamented that, and I quote, The smoke of satan has entered through the very walls of the Vatican. end quote..
    So if one belongs to the counterfit church,then please quickly get out of it for it is a church of man……..

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    • Alan, I disagree with your comment, I know some very good pro life priests who were ordained within the Novus Ordo Rite. I grew up in a Latin Mass Parish, and am very familiar with the Traditional Latin Mass, but the whole Latin Mass people are better than Novus Ordo People concept is wrong and uncharitable. The disobedience to Authority and Bishops watering down Church Teaching is where the problem lies, if one heads overseas and sees the boom in vocations among those who have nothing and are poor, it is quite incredible, their faith is amazing, and guess what? They are Novus Ordo. The difference is they have Bishops and priests who have had good formation within their seminaries in comparison to the places like Australia. Their are a lot of abuses that have happened in regarding the Novus Ordo Mass that Vatican II never sanctioned, modernists are to be blamed for this not Vatican II.

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      • the way you pray is the way you believe, if you attend the Latin Mass then you pray and believe as a Catholic, being truthful is Charity , there are protestants who rail against abortion ,that don’t make their Church the one true Church, for the purposes of Salvation, Many an informed opinion Theologians as like Fr. Gregory Hesse see on YouTube are recommended, Bernard Gaynor is seeing clearly.!!

      • Actually I attend both Latin and Novus Ordo . I am a practising Catholic.

      • seems you didn’t get , when you attend T.L.M. you are a practicing Catholic “Fr. Gregory Hesse,” you haven’t had time to read let alone digest

      • Sorry Don, can you supply a link?

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