Tuesday, February 19, 2013


A 65-year-old former nurse has delivered a withering telling off to the Archbishop of Westminster – England’s most senior Catholic – for his stance on gay marriage.

The woman, who now works with animals and lives in northern England, says she has been married for 30 years but gay marriage doesn’t threaten the status of her relationship whatsoever.

And she says Archbishop Vincent Nichols and his church have become obsessed with gay sex, ignoring the real problems of society – the economy, schools, hospitals and our children’s future.
The woman has requested to remain anonymous.  Excerpts from her splendid letter follow.
I am 65 years of age and have been married for almost 30 years. I would so have appreciated an explanation from you or any of the hierarchy exactly how my long and happy marriage will be threatened by the union of gay couples. When I meet people in my day to day existence they talk about the economic climate (bad), lack of employment (bad), uncertain future for their children (bad), state of schools, hospitals (bad) – never ever has anybody expressed concern about a threat to their marriage by the proposed legalizing of same-sex marriage. You, the church, claim that marriage is the bedrock of society and indeed it is but you also seem to consider it so fragile that allowing a few gay people access to it will endanger it forever. Here the implicit homophobia cannot be ignored.

Sadly you still think your pronouncements will be accepted without question by a meek credulous herd. You have spent far too much time telling us just how sinful we are while drawing veils of respectability over your own grievous wrongdoings.

I sometimes despair of this church, this institution. It seems to me in my reading of the Gospels that Jesus had no problem whatsoever with those who were considered outsiders or exceptions. He appears to have happily shared meals with prostitutes, drunkards, lepers, Gentiles and I do not doubt with people of same-sex orientation since such an orientation has existed since time began. The church seems much happier with its version of order over compassion and love towards the so-called exceptions. It has an appalling history of excluding and torturing those who do not think or subscribe to its definition of ‘right’.

To me, you (particularly but not exclusively the hierarchy) appear to be a frightened group of men preoccupied with titles, clothing and other religious externals. You seem, with some wonderful and brave exceptions, to pay only lip service to ecumenism and matters of social justice. I would love to see the so-called ‘Princes of the Church’ (Where did all these triumphant, utterly anti-Gospel titles you award yourselves come from?) get rid of the silk, the gold, the Gucci shoes, the ridiculous tall hats, croziers, fancy soutanes etc etc and substitute bare heads and a simple pilgrim’s staff on all liturgical occasions and that might be taken as a small outward sign of your inner acceptance of fundamental Gospel values.
Bulls-eye!  What an excellent and eloquent letter.  Along with the Roman Catholic "princes" of the church, I'd hope the "princes" of the Church of England, and especially the chief "prince", Archbishop Justin Welby, who will be enthroned next month, read the retired nurse's letter.  The  matters with which the archbishops and bishops in the two churches occupy their time and speak of, so often seem to have very little to do with the Gospel.

And for all hierarchical churches, if those in authority would keep in mind that they are called to be the servants of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be far better served.  I've often wondered what silks, and lace, and mitres have to do with the Gospel and thought that simpler vestments might be an aid to remind those in authority of their servant role.  Mitres are the silliest, and my suggestion would be to ditch them.

But I digress.  Though I have quoted generously from the letter, I urge you to read it all.

Photo from Wikipedia.


  1. Great letter. I like the part about "obsessed with gay sex" - which is so true of the Catholic hierarchy and all the other antigay religionists. And the writer very correctly points out that this is a waste of their true purpose, which is to care for the poor and needy, and encourage faith and good works. And not spend all their time sending people to Hell.

    1. Russ, the focus on what other people do in the privacy of the bedroom certainly seems obsessive to me and a great distraction from what Christ asks of his followers.


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