I was fired from the college for striving to uphold the Church’s teaching on homosexuality which is a grave injustice to me personally. It is extraordinary to think that I was asked by the rector to make a public oath of fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church at the beginning of the academic year. It is my fidelity to that oath that has cost me my job and deprived the seminarians of the only qualified formator in the seminary.
The Congregation for Catholic Education formally states that:
this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”.
Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.
However, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales openly flout this directive, Bishop Stock (before his episcopal ordination) probably responsible for the most public denouncement of the policy.
Fr. Marsden is very clear about the reason for his dismissal: he had the integrity to stand up for Church teaching and show fidelity to the oath he swore of fidelity to the Magisterium:
Towards the end of May 2018, I was dismissed from my post as formation tutor at St. Mary’s College, Oscott by the rector, Canon David Oakley. The reason for this was that I recommended that an openly gay seminarian discontinue the program of formation. Clearly, as an openly gay man, there was no hope of him being ordained. David Oakely informed me that his bishop was “adamant” that his student was staying in formation and that this was not how he and a number of bishops interpreted the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
Fr. Marsden continues by explaining that the situation at Oscott is that the rector will not dismiss a candidate from the seminary who admits to being “gay” out of fear that his bishop will not agree with his decision. The problem, therefore, quietly continues. Fr. Marsden also raises concerns regarding two of the spiritual directors in the seminary who, he states, are very compromised on the issue of homosexuality. He says that one individual admitted to him that his own gender identity is very confused and the other openly stated that homosexual priests are a good idea as they are better able to minister effectively to homosexual Catholics! Neither of these men, according to Fr. Marsden, would adhere to Church’s teaching and acknowledge that a key part of their role as spiritual director contained the “duty to dissuade (a homosexual person) in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.”
As I have said for years now, these problems arise largely due to the silence of those whose role it is to lead and guide us. They cannot agree with the Magisterium (or they would simply affirm it), but compromising it publicly would rock the boat, reveal their unbelief, effect the support they do have, so they don’t say anything and tacitly support a position which contradicts what the Church teaches. I ask you, how could this situation be allowed to proliferate?
If the bishops at least spoke with one voice it would also be a good steer to Vocations Directors and promoters. If we could avoid the problem men entering seminary then it would be a happier world for everyone involved.
No doubt Fr. Marsden will now be publicly vilified, but will the bishops even comment? Their usual modus operandi is to keep silent and wait for such storms to pass, but if you are giving money to promote vocations, would you be happy giving it to an organisation as clearly at odds as this priest claims Oscott is? If your son is considering a vocation, would you be happy with his formation taking place at such a place where he will inevitably encounter a scandalous lifestyle at odds with his formation?
As G. K. Chesterton puts it
“If you knowingly permit unreasonable judgements, they will very soon be unjust judgements. If you knowingly permit unjust judgements they will very soon be cruel judgements.”
Sadly, this is where the Catholic hierarchy in this country are and indeed, have been for some time.
I think, at the very least, we deserve some explanation and direction from the bishops at whom Fr. Marsden directs his letter. And please, do pray for him!