Peter Stanford is spouting the usual liberal media tosh on his Daily Telegraph blog. It is worth while reminding ourselves that, as he is thoroughly familiar with the Catholic scene as a self-described 'professional Catholic' (nice phrase) he is displaying exactly the jaw-dropping double standards which he is so ready to ascribe to the Catholic clergy.
His argument is oh-so-subtle, but can be summarised in two easy steps.
Premise 1. Many Catholic priests and bishops are subject to same-sex attraction.
Conclusion: It is 'hypocritical', and displays 'double standards', for them to criticise proposals for same-sex marriage.
There seem to be some missing steps, but Stanford isn't letting on what they might be. This one might fit the bill:
Premise 2: There is a moral principle P:
P: Solidarity among those with same-sex attraction requires that they should not believe there are any moral principles limiting the sex lives of people with same-sex attraction, or to appose anything presented by our political masters as promoting the life-options of people with same-sex attraction.
Liberals sometimes divide people up by victim group - ethnic minorities and so on - and expect them to conform to type. But is it actually morally wrong for them to fail to conform to type? When a white Christian woman, for example, burns her bra and joins the Communist Party?
Maybe this would be closer to the mark:
P2: Moral beliefs must not, on pain of 'hypocrisy', interfere with what one is tempted to do.
But it would seem to follow, by parallel, that heterosexuals must
not believe that adultery is wrong, or in the age of consent.
More fundamentally, when one sees a person proposing moral principles because they make their personal vices more conveniently exercisable, and not because they think they are actually true or coherent, then we say that this person is a hypocrite.
So the truth is: when the same-sex attracted priests Stanford says he knows transmit the teaching of the Church, they are saying something which applies particularly to them: this is something heroic. They have not taken the easy option of saying that the vices they are tempted to are ok, and everyone else's are damnable. What Stanford is cross about is that they are not hypocrites: they do not take the hypocritical position of moulding what they preach to fit the their own proclivities.
What about Stanford himself? Does he apply his bizarre moral principles to other people? What about the 'openly gay' non-clerics who have opposed the same-sex marriage proposals, some even in the mainstream media? Here's one example; here's another, from France:
Xavier Bongibault, an atheist homosexual, is a prominent spokesman
against the [same-sex marriage] bill. “In France, marriage is not designed to protect the
love between two people. French marriage is specifically designed to
provide children with families,” he said in an interview. “[T]he most serious study done so far . . . demonstrates quite clearly that a child has trouble being raised by gay parents.”
Is Bongiboult a hypocrite, Mr Stanford? Or do your standards make an execption for atheist homosexuals?
Oh but Stanford is talking about same-sex attracted priests who end up propositioning seminarians or altar boys. Actually, it makes no difference. They might, it is true, be using the clerical state to cloak their sexual predations, without any religious motives at all. More often, however, they are subject to Original Sin like everyone else. Before we get carried away here, many red-blooded heterosexual priests have committed terrible crimes. That doesn't mean the crimes weren't crimes.
Here's a question for Peter Stanford: do you think that priests are hypocrites if they tell their people to use the Sacrament of Confession and then, HORROR OF HORRORS, use that sacrament themselves? Or why do you think that sins against purity are so different from every other kind of sin?
There is an answer to the last question. Stanford has swallowed the liberal line that sexuality defines who you are, gives you an identity you cannot and must not escape, and that identity include a ready-made set of moral attitudes. Despite all our experience of gay priests and gay Tories, the liberals never cease to profess that gays must be left-leaning atheists. Well, the evidence seems to suggest something more complicated: perhaps people with same-sex attraction, for all their troubles, actually have free will, and can choose what religion or politics to adopt? Perhaps they might even get a bit fed up with the likes of Peter Stanford telling them they are 'hypocrites' whenever they disagree with him?
And is it not just a little hypocritical of Peter Stanford to present himself as a Catholic journalist when he clearly wants to tear up the teaching of the Church on sexuality?