(Fr Dominc Howarth compares St Elizabeth to the LGBT movement at 6 mins into the video.)
Here we have Fr Dominic Howarth preaching for the official Lourdes 2017 Centenary commemoration Mass. He is from Brentwood diocese UK and is the Episcopal Vicar for Formation. He is in charge of Catechesis and Youth. This event was the diocesan pilgrimage, and the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service had 200 young people on the trip.
Fr Howarth is also one of the founders of “Flame” the largest UK youth conference who’s main speaker was pro gay, pro women’s ordination Fr Timothy Radcliffe. He also presided at the “Gay Mass” at Brentwood Cathedral in 2016. I have been told that he is regarded by the Bishops conference of England a Wales to be leading figure as regards to Catholic Youth.
In the above homily, Fr Howarth talks about loneliness and how St Elizabeth would have been shunned for being barren – which at that time was considered a disgrace. At 6 mins into the video he compares St Elizabeth’s experience of being shunned to that of today’s LGBT community. Personally I find this quite odd, as Fr Howarth seems to not understand that homosexuality is in fact lauded by our society today. I also find it quite odd that a priest would compare a saint to the LGBT community – especially with no clear explanation of what the churches teaching on homosexuality actually is.
I showed the video to a few young Catholics and asked for their opinion:
“…The problem is this: before the 19th century there was no concept of LGBT identity, only homosexual sex acts. This is how the Catholic Church still views this. Shunning sinners, whether they be tax-collectors, prostitutes or homosexuals, is wrong and un-Christian. The problem is that nowadays the act and the person are an identity group. So when this priest compares the shunning of gays to the shunning of St Elizabeth, he’s implying that we should accept homosexual sex as non-sinful. I think that homosexuals shouldn’t be prosecuted or persecuted, but what they do is still wrong. Finally, I notice that the trend in the RC Church is to try and compromise with the postmodern culture. It’s as if all these clergy think that by embracing the buzz words of our era they’ll attract more people. Compromise on the truth never works.” – Lewis age 23.
“…St Elizabeth chose to be outside of the world and to live far from it contrary to what the priest makes out and Mary by making the journey to Elizabeth with Christ in her womb makes the first Eucharistic procession. So if anything Elizabeth is about the sanctity of life, So quite the reverse of the LGBT movement. Therefore Mary and Elisabeth are all about child bearing and life whereas the LGBT movement impedes life by their promotion of such people who by the nature of their relationships are closed to life.” – Brad, age 25.
“…Ok, he is comparing two things that are very different from one another. St. Elizabeth’s barrenness, at the time, was seen as a curse, because in those days maladies such as that, including blindness, infirmity, etc, were all viewed as punishments that God had inflicted on people throughout the Old Testament. You cannot compare St. Elizabeth’s barrenness to the LGBT.
Those in the LGBT are living in sin, Elizabeth was not, she was an instrument through which God moved to make the way for His Son’s arrival. The LGBT may, yes, be lonely, but their loneliness stems from living in sin.
We must pray for the those living in sin, yes, pray for God’ Mercy upon them and that they will cease to live in sin and enter God’s Grace. If they approach us for help we should, as Catholics, offer it, but we cannot condone their blatant sinful lifestyle.” – Mary, age 27.
“…Okay. Elizabeth was shunned because she was barren, but yet it wasn’t because of a moral issue, rather it was because God had a greater plan: she later gave birth to St. John the Baptist. Active homosexual activity, on the other hand, is a moral issue of great depravity and has caused great damage. Those participating in it must be refused Communion for the sake of their souls and so as to not cause scandal. To receive Communion one must be in Communion, and those not in Communion must be called, with love, to repentance.” – Josh, age 18 (discerning the Priesthood).
“…I went ahead and watched the entire homily up to that point. I find it a bit odd because generally you can tell from the get-go what sort of homily you’re in for. If the priest in question supports a certain vaguely-heretical position it’s usually fairly obvious, but in this case there wasn’t an abundance of buzzwords like there usually would be. I think it’s an unfair comparison to draw a parallel between Elizabeth and the LGBT movement. For many reasons, but especially because being unable to conceive when you are actually in a morally-acceptable marriage which you are faithful to is not remotely a sin, and unless you are definitely making clear that you refer only to people who deal with same-sex attraction who are punished or mistreated DESPITE trying their hardest to overcome their shortcomings, it’s at best vastly irresponsible to compare the two, and at worst outright manipulation.
I don’t believe any people who experience same sex attraction, or even those who act on it, should be physically harmed in any way by anyone solely for being that way, but I also do not believe that homosexuality is a good thing that should be celebrated, and I adhere to church teachings which says that homosexuality is a sin and should be related to as such; with those who are in its grasp treated with the truth they deserve to hear from their priests. It’s unclear to me whether the priest in this video is appealing to current events because he believes that’s what young people are interested in, or whether it’s because he has his own agenda he’s attempting to push, but I’m forced to assume that there is some sort of idea behind it that has some issues.” – Emily, age 19.
“…I never like it when clergy use the term “LGBT”. They allow themselves to be drawn into a battle of semantics and allow enemies of the Church to set the terms of any debate. Secondly, his comparison to Elizabeth is a non-sequitur. If she was excluded it wasn’t because of her lifestyle choices – you don’t choose to be barren but you can choose not to live in sin. There is a gap in the market for someone to explain the Catholic teaching on homosexuality but it seems everyone would rather blur the lines. That merely ignores the inherent dignity of the person and will never be adequate. The other thing I find with “trendy” priests is that they want to portray the Church as “tolerant and loving” by pretending hard teachings don’t exist and papering over them. Nothing is more merciful than the truth. As a cleric, his responsibility is that much greater as he is speaking from the pulpit and is in persona Christi. Time for many priests to live up to that higher standard both in their lives and their preaching.” – Daniel, age 27.
It strikes me that Fr Howarth might want to re-assess if he is actually in touch with what young Catholics want and need. I’m sure he had the best of intentions, but his heavily left-wing “church of nice” approach clearly isn’t cutting it. It is becoming more and more apparent that Catholic youth today are much more socially conservative, and much more solid in their faith than their parents and grandparents generations. This is a fact that those in charge seem to be either completely unaware of – or are choosing to ignore. Either way, it is quite embarrassing for Fr. Howarth that the “youth of today” should be (correctly) pulling him up on his social morality and theology. But isn’t it wonderful to see how intelligent, faithful and passionate our young Catholics are?!
I’m not sure if Fr Howarth’s Bishop has been informed of the above sermon. And especially if you are a young catholic – perhaps you would like to email Bishop Alan Williams of Brentwood Diocese firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him what you think of Fr Howarth’s homily, and also what you would want from a Youth Ministry.