Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Matters of definition

Last week the Prime Minister addressing the Conservative party conference said he believed in Gay Marriage not despite being a Conservative, but because he was a Conservative. Not all his hearers and MPs agreed with him, but that is to be expected.

Now Mr Macaroon - a bit tough on the outside but squidgy inside -, as I refer to him, is entitled to his opinion. Let us be honest - what might be termed Gay Common law marriages have been around for donkey's years - two people of the same sex quietly co-habiting, and now Civil Partnerships allow such couples to have legal and financial privileges. What is to be faulted there is more the lack of similar provision for parent and child or siblings who share a common abode, and face the curse of estate duty or the failure to transfer other financial rights.

One might indeed, even support such monogomus same-sex unions as a remedy against casual fornication,

As a historian I have no problem accepting the evidence that same-sex attraction and activity has been around for a very long time. As a Catholic I uphold the Church's teaching on sexuality.But everybody is not Catholic, and we have to look at the world as it is in such matters.

No, the problem is rather one of terminology. The Prime Minister appears to be defining Marriage and Conservative (in the sense of a UK political group) in ways that are not consonant with what those two terms have traditionally been taken to mean - Marriage as the union of a man and a woman with the potential for having children, Conservative as a political system that is not exclusively individualistic, but one that is aware of the claims of society and shaped by Christian teaching and principles.

One begins to wonder what else is being re-defined in Mr Macaroon's mind.

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