Australian Priest Gives Point-by-Point Critique of Bishop’s Controversial Lecture

News: World News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  September 15, 2016   

Fr. Terence Mary Naughtin speaks with on Bp. Vincent Long's address

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SYDNEY ( - A lecture given in Sydney by Bp. Vincent Long of Parramatta, Australia has been thoroughly critiqued by a local priest who's saying "the Bishop's address manifests serious flaws and errors."

Father Terence Mary Naughtin, OFM Conv., told he was asked by people present at the bishop's lecture for his comments about controversial remarks he made in his public address to "more than 2,000 Catholic schoolteachers in his diocese" last month in Western Sydney.

After noting the many good things said in Bp. Long's address, Fr. Naughtin identified in his eight-page analysis several problems, concluding that "he often conflates the idea of spiritual mercy with that of corporal mercy, failing to prioritize them rightly."

[H]e pits the Church of the past against the Church of the present; ... he implicitly pits pastoral work against the teaching of Catholic doctrine in a false dichotomy; he presents various 'straw man' arguments against the Church of the past; and he fails to give us a solid doctrinal basis for the pastoral work which he invites us to undertake. asked Fr. Naughtin, who has known Bp. Long for more than 30 years and is a member of the same Conventual Franciscan religious order, if he feared any repercussions from speaking so openly on the errors manifested in the bishop's address.

I fear no repercussions at all. The address was a public address and I — like everyone else — have the right to a view, just as Bishop Long has a right to his view. It is important to note that I am not attacking a person; I am responding to the contents of the address.

After studying the address, Fr. Naughtin noted in his response, "The Bishop implies that the struggles of the poor … are somehow the result of the Church's negligence, but he neglects to point out the real origin of human misery: and that is sin and the absence of God in people's lives."

The Franciscan priest takes exemption to Bp. Long's tendency to "criminalize" the "Church of the past" as if the Church was "unfaithful to the demands of the Gospel," when "it is precisely the Catholic Church which was the birthplace of ... schools and the preservation of learning, hospitals, universities, and charitable organizations."

Bishop Long, like many prelates today, seems to place corporal works of mercy above spiritual works of mercy. Father Naughtin rejects this notion. "Corporal acts of mercy are always desired but they will never be as great or as merciful as the acts of love by which the Church rescues souls from sin and error and eternal damnation," he explained.

In his address, Long claimed that one of the greatest challenges for the Church today is making "space for everyone, especially those who have been hurt, excluded or alienated, be they abuse victims, survivors, divorcees, gays, lesbians."

To this Fr. Naughtin, responded,

[If] by "inclusion" we mean compromising the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to accommodate sinful lifestyles then we need to reject such an idea. … Jesus came neither to condemn us in our sins nor to condone our sins, but to save us from them.

Finally, Bp. Long's call to stop identifying homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered" is refuted by Fr. Naughtin. "Respect for homosexual persons and the desire for their eternal welfare are not opposed to one another," he clarified. "They both stem from true love, the love of Jesus Christ." asked Fr. Naughtin if he saw similarities between Bp. Long's lecture and the manner in which certain liberal prelates spoke, notably Cdl. Walter Kasper of Germany.

"In the Church today," he responded, "many prelates seem to adopt a vague form of speech, which can be elusive. I am mindful of Our Lord's instruction: 'Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.'"


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