LEEDS, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishop of Leeds is to ordain to the priesthood an English seminarian from the Pontifical Beda College who bragged on social media about his same-sex civil partnership.
Bishop Marcus Stock will confer Holy Orders on Christopher William Butler in Leeds Cathedral on Saturday at 11 a.m. despite Vatican directives cautioning against ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood.
Butler was ordained deacon by Cdl. James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, on June 17, 2020.
In January 2020, Church Militant reported that Butler and his former homosexual civil partner Alan Sumner had entered into a registered same-sex civil partnership before same-sex "marriage" was legalized in Britain.
Butler, a former civil servant and registered nurse, posted tweets about his "wonderful partner the wonderful Alan Sumner" in January 2014 and in February 2014 wrote about "Valentine cards" he had received from his "partner."
When Butler's partner died, he approached the diocese of Leeds and Stock accepted him for formation, despite complaints and reservations from numerous advisors and priests in the diocese of Leeds, sources earlier said.
Butler's Twitter page was immediately blocked from public view after Church Militant contacted Bp. Stock and Canon Philip Gillespie, rector of the Pontifical Beda College. Both Gillespie and Stock did not respond to Church Militant's requests for comment.
On Tuesday, Church Militant again contacted the bishop of Leeds to ask his response to the forthcoming ordination, "especially in the light of Catholic teaching on the issue of ordaining men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies."
In a written statement, a spokesperson for the diocese of Leeds said:
The admission of Rev. Christopher Butler for seminary formation followed the successful completion of all the relevant investigations and procedures undertaken for prospective students for the priesthood adopted by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Christopher is a man whose whole life has been radically converted to following Jesus Christ in full accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church. He has undertaken a thorough course of discernment and formation for priestly ministry, and like all candidates for the priesthood he has made a commitment to a life of prayer, service, chastity, obedience, and to the promise of celibacy undertaken at his ordination to the diaconate.
Christopher has been blessed by the affirmation and unqualified support he has received from the seminary formation staff, and from both the clergy and the laity within the Diocese of Leeds and beyond. We pray for him and for his future ministry.
Based on screenshots from Butler's social media pages, sources earlier told Church Militant that "Butler has openly boasted constantly about having been in a same-sex civil partnership, displaying a deep-seated obsession with his deceased 'life partner.'"
Fellow-seminarians at the Pontifical Beda College revealed that Butler had told them he was "open about his past and hid nothing from the bishop and diocese" in the process of applying for ordination.
Speaking to Church Militant, popular English author Dcn. Nick Donnelly noted that "the Church warns that those who have actively participated in the LGBT lifestyle are unsuitable candidates for priestly ordination."
There are several reasons for this: homosexuality is an inclination to acts of grave depravity (CCC 2357) that puts souls in danger of Hell; active membership of the LGBT movement is like being indoctrinated into an addictive cult from which it is very difficult to get free, psychologically and socially.
Though we can't discount the possibility of personal conversion from grave sexual sin as exemplified by St. Augustine of Hippo, the lax attitude of a number of English bishops towards the LGBT subculture makes it very difficult for seminarians and priests to break away from this morally destructive lifestyle.
In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI approved the Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders on "whether to admit to the seminary and to Holy Orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies."
The directive said it was "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 practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture."
The directive also assigns the task of discerning the suitability of the vocation as the "personal responsibility of the bishop" and the "serious duty of the rector and of the other persons entrusted with the work of formation in the seminary."
"One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies," it added.
It clarified that "homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem — for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded," must be "clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate."
In 2017, Butler, who served as trust director and chief executive for the National Health Service, joined the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, the English bishops' seminary for older vocations.
Commending Butler after his ordination to the diaconate, the diocese of Leeds described him as "a long-standing and well-known member of the congregation at Leeds Cathedral."
"He comes from a medical background and is a key member of the medical team that accompanies the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes," the diocese's website said.