Bishop: Church needs to lis­ten

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

THE Catholic Church needed to hear the strug­gles of a young man’s emo­tional con­flict with gen­der tran­si­tion and not “close the door” on him, Bishop of Townsville Tim Har­ris told a packed busi­ness break­fast in the city yes­ter­day.

Bishop Har­ris was com­ment­ing on an “ide­o­log­i­cal war” rag­ing in the church at a time when rev­e­la­tions of child sex­ual abuse by the clergy were un­der the spot­light.

On one side were the con­ser­va­tives hold­ing to the­ol­ogy, on the other, those look­ing for re­form, he said.

Bishop Har­ris is one push­ing for re­form.

“There is a bit of ide­o­log­i­cal war­fare go­ing on in our church to­day,” Bishop Har­ris said.

“( Some) are ham­mer­ing Pope Fran­cis, not be­cause of his in­abil­ity, per­haps, to get the sex­ual abuse thing un­der con­trol, but be­cause he’s per­ceived to be too lib­eral, in the trenches.

“He wants to give peo­ple dig­nity and I think that is what drives him more than the the­ol­ogy.”

Bishop Har­ris told the au­di­ence he had met a young man in a Catholic school strug­gling with his sex­u­al­ity.

“He ex­plained to me what was go­ing on for him. His sex­u­al­ity was very con­fus­ing for him and he felt that he was sort of a man in a woman’s body or vice versa,” Bishop Har­ris said. “The church is bat­tling with this. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of ap­pre­ci­a­tion with the strug­gle these peo­ple are go­ing through.”

Bishop Har­ris said he had asked the young man to talk at the next bish­ops’ con­fer­ence.

“I haven’t got him there yet, but I think as bish­ops, we need to lis­ten to that,” he said. “I’m not sure any of us un­der­stand how some­one tran­si­tions.”

Bishop Har­ris said he wanted his pas­tors to “strug­gle ev­ery sin­gle day” with any­one who comes to them ask­ing for help and not turn peo­ple away.

“You can’t break church teach­ing but what you can do is try to get peo­ple over the line,” Bishop Har­ris said.

“If peo­ple make a de­ci­sion about any mat­ter af­ter I’ve talked to them about a Catholic po­si­tion, I can’t go and say, that door is now closed to you.

“I don’t want that kind of church and I don’t think the Pope does ei­ther.”

RE­FORM: Bishop Tim Har­ris.

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