CEBU City, Jan. 26, 2016 – Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. continues to generate buzz even if he has retired as master-general of the 800-year-old Dominican Order. This is partly because of the controversial preacher’s calls for the Church to be more welcoming of gay people.
As one of the headline speakers of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), he probably didn’t imagine that the IEC would be where he could clarify his much-discussed position on the issue.
One with the Church
Journalists asked the 70-year old British Dominican, if he supported gay marriage. Radcliffe said the Church’s position was also his.
“In fact, my position on gay marriage is the Church’s. People like to try to find scandal. They love to be shocked. Some people are never so happy as when they are shocked,” Radcliffe told reporters following his concurrent session on “The Christian Virtue of Hope” at the IEC Pavilion.
“If you look at what I said, I never approved of gay marriage. I only said the community must be open to gay people as Pope Francis said, as my own cardinal-archbishop in England (Vincent Nichols) says,” he said.
“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 (a person) and usually it’s their own invention,” added Radcliffe.
Radcliffe’s profile is again rising in the Church, after Pope Francis appointed him consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in March last year. In England, where the Dominicans are known as the Black friars, he is the director of the Las Casas Institute, a research center named after Bartolome de las Casas, who fought Spanish colonizers in behalf of oppressed native Americans in the 16th century.
The Dominicans are celebrating the eight centenary of their foundation this year, and the Vatican has proclaimed a jubilee to mark the historic occasion. As Dominican master-general from 1992-2001, Radcliffe traveled extensively, and helped obtain NGO status for his order at the United Nations.
What disappoints Radcliffe, who has been criticized for celebrating Masses for London’s gay community, on how gay people are treated?
‘Greatest sign of hope’
“I think people always want to know what they’re doing in bed. What’s in it for me to go around asking what they’re doing in bed? I don’t do that,” he said.
“Everybody’s on their journey and Pope Francis said, who am I to judge? So I think all we do is we help people as they journey towards God, each person in their own way. I must be a help, I mustn’t be a hindrance.”
In his IEC talk, Radcliffe said hope could be found in children. “Teaching the young is one of the greatest signs of hope,” he said.
He lamented efforts to curb population, citing the problems brought by aging societies.
According to him, however, the bigger problem is the growing inequality between the rich and the poor.
“The Eucharist is our great sign of hope, the sacraments are signs – they express hope that are beyond words. Sometimes its difficult to stay in the Church, but we abide, because God abides with us.” (Felipe Francisco / CBCP News)