Did you see this article that sneaked into the news on Sunday? http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8690398/Catholic-Church-powerless-in-face-of-extreme-fringe
An interesting read – the Catholic Bishops Conference has asked the "Catholic Action Group" to stop using 'Catholic' in their title beacuse they are acting outside of the authority of the Church. The head of the CAG (Arthur Skinner) has said that he won't be listening to the Bishops because they should resign as they have abandoned the teaching of the Catholic Church. Like I said, interesting…
The stoush seems to have come about over the emails that Mr Skinner sent to MPs on the eve of the Marriage Amendment vote. Mr Skinner's emails told MPs that homosexuality was "an abomination crying out to Heaven for vengeance" and that if they voted for the bill they would find themselves "on the road to hell for all eternity".
I'm left wondering what Mr Skinner hoped to achieve with these emails. Was he thinking that upon receiving these emails the MPs would think, "Gosh, he's right. I don't want to go to hell so I'd better not vote for this bill." Because I'm pretty sure that these MPs don't share Mr Skinner's spirituality and an email is hardly going to change that. In fact, some MPs commented that receiving this email made them even more determined to vote FOR the bill.
Perhaps Mr Skinner felt it was his duty to warn the MPs – he alludes to his own spiritual journey in the article ("I would like to think I would get to heaven one day, but you don't fall into heaven, you climb up – you've got to do things that are unpleasant sometimes.") I agree that as part of the Church it is part of our job to warn people – but there are ways of doing this and in my experience, telling people they will "burn in hell" isn't the most effective way to engage people in spiritual discussions. As Archbishop Dew says in this article, "We try and say whatever is done should be done in charity, and so using language which is inflammatory is not charitable language, not a part of who we are as gospel people."
I think what really bugs me about Arthur Skinner and his emails is the very judgemental tone to them. To say that homosexuality is crying out for 'heaven's vengeance' – what does this mean? Does he mean that God is going to seek revenge on those who are homosexual? Surely our God is about forgiveness and yearning for relationship with His people – including sinners. And aren't we all sinners afterall?
And to say that people will burn in hell for all eternity.. surely the only one to judge this is God himself? And unless Mr Skinner equates himself with God, I can't see that he has any right to determine who will burn in hell and who will live in eternity with God.