Bishop: Church needs to listen
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.