CEBU, Philippines (ChurchMilitant.com) - Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., former head of the worldwide Dominican order, is saying Catholics "must be open to gay people."
Kicking off the 51st Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, The Philippines, Sunday, Radcliffe was the first speaker and discussed "The Christian Virtue of Hope." At an interview given at the event, Fr. Radcliffe offered his thoughts on the Church and homosexuals.
"Everybody's on their journey," he said. "I think people always want to know what they're doing in bed. What's in it for me to go around asking everybody what they're doing in bed? I don't do that."
Radcliffe served as Master General of the Order of Preachers from 1992 to 2001, and was later appointed to serve on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He's caused controversy for his gay-friendly remarks, once calling gay sexuality "eucharistic" and encouraging the faithful to watch explicitly gay films like "Brokeback Mountain" and read gay erotica.
At a 2006 event in Los Angeles, Radcliffe challenged the faithful to let "our images be stretched open."
This means watching "Brokeback Mountain," reading gay novels, living with our gay friends and listening with them as they listen to the Lord. ... We are not a sign of God's freedom until we can dare to belong to each other across every theological boundary.
And in 2013, he advised, "We must ask what [gay sexuality] means, and how far it is Eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual and non-violent. So in many ways, I would think that it can be expressive of Christ's self-gift."
Radcliffe often celebrated Mass for the U.K. dissident gay group Soho Masses Pastoral Council (now renamed the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council), whose gay Masses in London went on for six years before being transferred by Cdl. Vincent Nichols to another pariash. The Pastoral Council has hosted gay activist speakers, including two openly homosexual priests (one of them "married" to his male partner) at a conference in 2013.
At Sunday's interview at the Eucharistic Congress, Radcliffe derided Catholics who've expressed concerns over his gay-themed remarks.
"People like to try to find scandal," he retorted. "They love to be shocked."
He clarified that he has never supported same-sex "marriage."
"My position on gay marriage is the Church's," he insisted. "We must be open to welcome anybody. But I never said I believe in gay marriage."
"But you see, some people like to sniff out heresy," he remarked. "Usually it's their own invention."
Although Radcliffe has never explicitly endorsed gay marriage, he has praised same-sex civil unions — a legal regime specifically condemned in a 2003 Vatican document, which emphasizes that "clear and emphatic opposition is a duty" for the faithful with regard to legal recognitions for gay unions.
In 2012, in the liberal U.K. paper The Tablet, Radcliffe said, "This is not to denigrate committed love of people of the same sex. This too should be cherished and supported, which is why Church leaders are slowly coming to support same-sex civil unions. The God of love can be present in every true love."
Controversy arose when Radcliffe was chosen to be keynote speaker at the 2013 Divine Mercy Conference in Dublin. A number of groups called to have his invitation rescinded, and Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in Ireland boycotted the event, instead hosting a radio episode critical of Fr. Radcliffe's pro-homosexualist stance.
But the 51st Eucharistic Congress has shown no such opposition to Radcliffe's presence, with other big-name speakers at the event lending legitimacy to the Dominican priest's attendance — including New York's Cdl. Timothy Dolan, California's Bp. Robert Barron, Synod Father Cdl. Oswald Gracias and Vatican spokesman Fr. Thomas Rosica, among others.