Catholic MPs & (lack of) Conscience…

Catholic MPs & (lack of) Conscience…

Update – 15th July, 2013

My reply to Rob Flello MP

Original Report – 13th July, 2013

Yesterday I received a phone call from Robert Watts, Deputy Political Editor on the London Telegraph, asking if we are the Scottish group responsible for demanding the excommunication of Catholic MPs who voted in favour of same sex marriage. Apparently, there is a leaflet circulating to that effect which is causing quite a stir south of the border. Eventually, we concluded that word must have gotten around about our online petition calling on the Vatican to act to ensure that Canon Law (#915)  is enforced, since parish priests and bishops in Scotland are permitting MPs who have voted to legislate for same-sex marriage to continue to receive Holy Communion. Someone, presumably, printed off our petition statement and put the photocopiers to work.  I hung up the phone and thought no more about it.

Then today I received the most incredible letter from an MP I’ve yet seen – Rob Flello MP to be precise.  Click here to see if you agree

Now, there’s plenty I could say in response to the contents of that outrageous letter, but I keep being told that blog articles ought to be short and to the point.

Suffice to say that Mr Flello’s views on Catholic conscience fall very far wide of the mark, and I’ll be replying to his letter as soon as I can get down to it, to tell him so. In the meantime, I’ve emailed him the link to this discussion thread.

So, what do you think – should I comply with Mr Flello’s wishes and retract the petition statement describing Catholic MPs who voted for same-sex marriage as “dissenters”?

And do I – thinkest thou – owe Mr Flello and his colleague Catholic MPs an apology?

Here’s what I think – “retraction”?  “apology”?  Yeah right!

Note: the above exchange with Rob Flello MP was reported in the August, 2013 edition of Catholic Truth – to read that report, visit the Newsletter page on our website, click on Archives downward arrow, and select Issue No. 78, August, 2013, scroll to page 7.



Comments (70)

  • Josephine


    That’s a timely reminder of the different ways of committing sin. I wonder if the editor of the Universe will mention those when he publishes his attack on Catholic Truth. Like yourself, I don’t read that rag, but might see if I can read that one article in it this weekend at the back of the church when nobody’s looking!

    July 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm
  • editor

    Well, I’ve heard no more from Mr Whitehouse, so I’ll presume he couldn’t find anything juicy in my emails to my MP.

    I actually received a letter of invitation to meet both my MP and MSP at some coffee morning or other on 29th June. I would definitely have gone along if free, but my Saturday mornings are generally tied up with an exceptionally non-exciting domestic duty, so I had to pass. Next time, though…

    July 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm
  • spiritustempore

    I read Flello’s self-serving attempts to dress up his and his colleagues’ utter betrayal of basic Catholic principles with faux-pious hand-wringing and out of context quotations from Church teachings.

    I see nothing to persuade me from my firm conviction that politicians are disreputable, self-serving scum who would sell their grandmothers for a sniff of a chance at personal advancement. Still less that the Labour Party seems to shelter the most egregious examples of the ilk.

    If Flello’s behaviour in gaily signing his constituents up to the demolition of the sacrament of marriage was repulsive initially, how much worse to see him attempt to wrap himself in the authority of the Church’s teachings.

    I pity the poor souls who find themselves next to him at the altar rail…..

    July 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm
  • spiritustempore

    From Mr Flello’s scribblings, I see little difference between his position and those who voted for the legislation, Editor.

    The Church’s teachings are really quite clear, as well we all know. For this moral bankrupt to write to you, twisting the same teachings to support his bleats for “freedom of conscience” and his hand-wringing accounts of the simply terrible conscience-wrestling that his high-minded fellow Catholics subjected themselves to, shortly before selling their faith down the river, plumbs new depths of hypocrisy.

    Mr Flello is a moral relativist, and worse yet, a Catholic in public life who is happy to sacrifice his faith on the altar of betrayal.

    Sadly, the chances of our current sorry hierarchy withholding the sacraments from him are somewhere between zero and nought. But withheld they should be.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:22 am
  • Athanasius

    As regards Garry Otton and other aggressive anti-Christian zealots, I was thinking recently that these poor souls really are more to be pitied than scorned. Their behaviour reminds me of those who advocated and perpetrated the crucifixion of Our Lord, whose response to such brutal persecution was to ask His Father to forgive them.

    It’s very easy for us to forget this example of the mercy of Our Saviour towards His enemies – fallen human nature on our part I suppose – but we should always remind ourselves of His command to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. It’s difficult at times, I admit, but such is the spiritual life of the Christian.

    Bishop Fulton Sheen was very aware of what actually drives people like Garry Otton. He said that it is almost useless to attempt to debate with such people on the theological level. Rather, said he, try to discover what it is in their own conscience that troubles them and you will have discovered the source of a self-detestation that has been falsely projected towards God.

    I think that is an excellent analysis of the spiritual/psychological impetus that drives those who claim not to believe in God but who nevertheless feel driven to oppose Him in public at every opportunity. Unless and until Mr. Otton and others like him come to terms with their own sins and turn back to the one who waits to forgive them, then I’m afraid there is simply no way to reason with them.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm
  • editor


    “…we should always remind ourselves of His command to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us”

    Yeah well, speak for yourself…

    Having been out all day,* I’ve just returned home to find myself forced to devote precious to deleting idiotic entries on our petition – guess who signed it while I was outa the office? Well, let’s see if I can remember some of them… Oh yes, John Paul the Great signed, as did Benedict the Butcher, and there were two signatures from one Popess McKeever the Mental…

    Silly beggars.

    Take note, Mr Flello – take note. This – as I said in my letter to you – is how the Church’s enemies (the pro same sex marriage brigade) operate. It’s not our way. Take, as I said, note.

    On my way to the recording studio* this morning (cough, cough) I had a telephone call from a journalist at the Catholic Herald – there will be a short report on the Flello letter in this weekend’s paper. Very nice journalist, who assured me that her piece would be “balanced”. I pointed out that such is the mentality of the secular press but that the Catholic press is supposed to be about truth. One cannot really balance out truth and error, can one? A truly Catholic newspaper would be urging its readers to vote in our petition. That’ll be the day.

    At least the Herald had the courtesy to ring me for comment, unlike the Universe and, of course, unlike the Mirror.

    So, seems we’ve really stirred things up with our humble effort to contribute to the restoration of discipline in the Church in the matter of manifest public sinners being permitted Holy Communion.

    But, isn’t it interesting that the Herald journalist said theirs would only be a short piece? It should, if the editor of that newspaper had anything remotely akin to a truly Catholic sense, be on the front page and then some.

    * Thanks to Petrus for his time today, recording a list of the old, much loved hymns that some of us miss to death. He’s now recorded the music and sweet Rebecca will record the lyrics in due course; then our webmaster will put together the videos and – voila! – they will be available online.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:23 pm
  • Athanasius


    I understand perfectly your frustration with those who are putting false names on the petition. I really do hope Mr. Flello & Co are reading this and getting a taste of the nastiness of the pro-same sex marriage brigade. This should be sending signals out to our politicians about what exactly it is they’re supporting.

    You’re also right about the Catholic Herald and its talk of a “balanced” report. There’s no balance required in this debate. One is either for Christ (the moral teaching of the Church) in this matter of same-sex marriage or one is against, there’s no debate to be had.

    But, hey, read this response of the British Bishops to the Queen’s approval of the same-sex marriage legislation. It’s from Zenit News Agency. Note the absence of any mention of God and His laws. Oh yes, and not a dickie bird about Catholic MPs who betrayed the Church’s moral teaching. Faithful successors of the Apostles? Not in a million years.

    ‘LONDON, July 17, 2013 ( – Queen Elizabeth II approved a bill today which legalizes same-sex marriage in Britain. Her majesty’s approval of the bill was the final step necessary for it to become law.

    As of next summer, the new law will enable same-sex couples to “marry” in both civil and religious ceremonies. It will also allow same-sex couples who had entered into civil partnerships to obtain the legal status of “marriage.”

    The president and vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales have issued the following statement in response to the passing of the “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act”:

    In receiving Royal Assent, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act marks a watershed in English law and heralds a profound social change. This fact is acknowledged by both advocates and opponents of the Act.

    Marriage has, over the centuries, been publicly recognized as a stable institution which establishes a legal framework for the committed relationship between a man and a woman and for the upbringing and care of their children. It has, for this reason, rightly been recognized as unique and worthy of legal protection.

    The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

    Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through. We are grateful particularly therefore to those Parliamentarians in both Houses who have sought to improve the Bill during its passage, so that it enshrines more effective protection for religious freedom.

    A particular concern for us has also been the lack of effective protection for Churches which decide not to opt-in to conducting same sex marriages. Amendments made in the House of Lords though have significantly strengthened the legal protections in the Act for the Churches. We also welcome the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act which makes it clear beyond doubt that “discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to the marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”. Individuals are therefore protected from criminal sanction under the Public Order Act when discussing or expressing disagreement with same sex marriage.

    In other respects, however, the amendments we suggested have not been accepted. We were concerned to provide legislative clarity for schools with a religious character. This was in order to ensure that these schools will be able to continue to teach in accordance with their religious tenets. Given the potential risk that future guidance given by a Secretary of State for education regarding sex and relationships education could now conflict with Church teaching on marriage, we were disappointed that an amendment to provide this clarity was not accepted. The Minister made clear in the House of Lords, however, that in “having regard” to such guidance now or in the future schools with a religious character can “take into account other matters, including in particular relevant religious tenets”, and that “having regard to a provision does not mean that it must be followed assiduously should there be good reason for not doing so”. These assurances go some way to meeting the concerns we and others expressed.

    We were disappointed that a number of other amendments to safeguard freedom of speech and the rights of civil registrars to conscientious objection were not passed. But Ministerial assurances have been made that no one can suffer detriment or unfavorable treatment in employment because she or he holds the belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

    The legal and political traditions of this country are founded on a firm conviction concerning the rights of people to hold and express their beliefs and views, at the same time as respecting those who differ from them. It is important, at this moment in which deeply held and irreconcilable views of marriage have been contested, to affirm and strengthen this tradition.’

    July 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm
    • editor

      Thanks for posting that Zenit report, Athanasius.

      I’ve noted all along, listening to the “spokesmen” like John Deighan and Peter Kearney, that they fall far short of saying what needs to be said – I can’t recall hearing either of them mentioning God’s law either when interviewed on umpteen occasions on TV and radio. Within the constraints that they had decided (to avoid any mention of God and the natural moral law) they did very well indeed, but not remotely as well as they should have done and would have done had they spoken fearlessly as Catholics. Throughout the entire (non) debate, they accepted civil partnerships – never once saying that ALL homosexual activity is immoral and ought never to have been dignified by the introduction of civil partnerships.

      Again, though, both of them are too young to have received a solid Catholic education and formation. Tragic. And they want to canonise the “popes of the Council” – crazy.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm
  • Petrus

    It’s amazing the amount of coverage we are getting on this. Talk about an own goal by Flello!

    July 18, 2013 at 7:54 am
  • editor

    Well, the coverage to come in the Universe doesn’t mention us by name.

    I can’t work out how to post it here but will see what I can do later.

    Chris Whitehouse sent me a copy by email, included in his circular to “colleagues”

    It’s all about the Catholic “Taliban” but get this: he talks about attacks from within the Church and is nasty about these “extremists” and he uses the same old argument about conscience, but he doesn’t name Catholic Truth – what does that tell you? For one thing it tells you that the Editor of the Universe didn’t want to risk having to give me the right to reply. I emailed to tell Mr Whitehouse what the article tells me about him. Here’s my reply to his email of this morning, attaching a copy of the Universe article:

    That article is proof positive that you are (a) a blatant liar (quoting your erroneous view about conscience after it has been corrected) and (b)that you know you haven’t got a leg to stand on or you’d have named Catholic Truth or any other “extremist” “Taliban” group. You are a dishonest man, in the extreme.

    But note this: you won’t bully me or anyone else at Catholic Truth. Unlike YOU I will be naming names (Rob Flello and you) in our next – August – edition. And I won’t be sparing your blushes. END

    July 18, 2013 at 8:41 am
    • Athanasius


      That Universe article of Chris Whitehouse is the most shameful piece of hypocrisy I have ever read; from start to finish a collection of specious arguments and nasty calumnies. Utterly disgraceful, yet so typical of liberal politicians and their lackeys in the liberal Catholic press.

      In healthier times, those responsible for such public scandal would have been very severely dealt with by the Church’s authorities, But, alas, since Vatican II it seems that only those who uphold the Traditional Faith and teaching of the Church are found worthy of censure, the so-called “Taliban Catholics” as Mr. Whitehouse so viciously calls them.

      Poor man, how utterly deluded he is in peddling the myth that conscience can be used to transgress the laws of God and nature. Truth is, Our Lord has been sold out by Catholic MP’s who voted in favour of the same-sex marriage Bill, as well as by the Bishops whose silent approval of such treachery is unprecedented in Church history. Absolutely incredible stuff, unimaginable just 50 years ago.

      But surely they must know from that history that God is not mocked?

      July 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm
  • catholicconvert1


    This is a letter which I wrote to Robert Flello in support of our beloved Editor:

    ‘Dear Mr Flello

    You may recall that I emailed you some time ago to inform you of my concerns towards gay ‘marriage’. I gratefully received your response by it, and was satisfied by it, until I read an article on PinkNews and Catholic Truth, where you supported the ‘right’ of Catholic MPs to rebel against the will of God, the Pope and Christ’s Holy and Truthful Church. The fact is these ‘Catholic’ MPs, do not have this right. When they exercise it, they reduce themselves to a state of Apostasy and error. These are no more than protestants, because obedience is not part of protestantism. As His Eminence Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez rightly put it, ‘to be a protestant is to have no shame’. The same applies to these politicians who falsely call themselves Catholic.

    This is what the Catechism says about marriage:

    1601 “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”

    Here is what it says in Canon Law#915:
    Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

    By voting with their ‘conscience’, they are committing a sin, by allowing a sin, i.e homosexuality/ homosexual acts. To approach the Priest for Communion whilst not in a state of Grace is wrong. Catholic Truth and Ms. McKeever are correct by launching this petition to His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke to withdraw the sacraments and/ or excommunicate those who are Catholic, yet vote in favour of Abortion, Euthanasia, Stem Cell/ Embryo research and gay ‘marriage’ etc. I signed this petition. Ms. McKeever’s conscience is clear on this issue. Can the same be said for these ‘Catholic’ politicians? I doubt it. People should celebrate Holy Matrimony and not allow falsifications.

    I really do admire and respect you personally, and I am truly grateful for your kindness and courtesy in replying to me, and I hope you will respect and take into account my views, as I do with yours, in the highest esteem.

    Please remember me in your daily prayers, as I will remember you in mine.

    In Jesus and Mary,

    Yours sincerely

    Mr Nobody (Obviously not my real name.)

    Also, when are the likes of Garry Otton and Nick Sundich going to be banned from the blog. We can except idiocy from Mr Otton, but Mr Sundich who is a ‘catholic’ yet supports gay relationships? You Sir are as Catholic as Ian Paisley’s or Norman Vincent Peale’s grannies!!!! And yes dear heart, I do find the Apostle Paul appealing, and the Apostle Peale appalling.


    July 18, 2013 at 9:53 am
    • editor

      Thank you, catholicconvert – that is a very good letter. Very kind of you and much appreciated. If only he were to wake up to a sackful of the same tomorrow morning, she said, ever the dreamer…

      July 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm
  • catholicconvert1


    Are you, upon further genuine pray, love and study going to convert to Catholicism? I was like you. I was brought up Protestant, became an Atheist and was introduced to Catholicism. Believe you me, Catholicism is the One, True, Holy and Apostolic Church. You’ve seen the Bible quote where Jesus Our Saviour, said: ‘Tu es Petrus, and upon this Rock I build my Church, and not even the gates of Hell will prevail against it’. The Pope and all Bishops and Priests can claim authority from this moment, unlike Protestant Ministers who changed ordination rites, and not only became Heretics but Schismatics. Now, you say that Sola Scriptura is Biblical? Wrong. Is the word ‘Bible’ or ‘Trinity’ in Scripture? No. Yet the Baptists still use these words. Please follow this link:

    Sola Fide is not Biblical, either. I bet you don’t believe in Purgatory or Salvation by Good Works? Here some links for you:

    Also, please venerate Mary as Christ did- here is another link for you:

    Have you heard the Catholic Doctrines of Salvation? Invincible Ignorance, Baptism of Desire and Blood?

    July 18, 2013 at 10:20 am
  • catholicconvert1

    Sorry that should be ‘prayer’. Here’s another list on Salvation:

    But however we can’t limit God’s Mercy, but non-Catholic Christians aren’t saved by their Church, but by being in it. But if you know Catholicism is true and yet reject it, then your taking chances with God, which is not recommended. Even people in the West, not just some Tribesman in the Amazon, or someone in an Atheist state, live in Invincible Ignorance, so we don’t know the extent to which people either know or do not know the True Church and it’s manifest love to us. Anyone searching for the Truth will be drawn to the Catholic Church. Also, when Protestants say they believe in the catholic church, it’s not THE Catholic Church, it’s a post Reformation lie, invented to give Luther etc the false notion than they were still members of God’s Church, which they are not. Branch theory, i.e there are many Churches all with truth is baloney- we on this blog are not Roman Catholics, we are Catholic. The word ‘Roman’ was added by Protestant branch theorists.

    I hope you convert.


    July 18, 2013 at 10:29 am
  • charlesmcewan

    I thought the editors comments to Fello excellent – completely demolished him and showed him to be a traitor. Very nice also to read that there are plenty real Catholics who will not bend to the spirit of the times. Satan is moving powerfully in the world at the current moment and no doubt gloating at how many so called Catholics are following his deception for worldly honour. His time on Earth is short but eternity for his minions will be a time of perpetual tribulation.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm
    • editor

      Thank you, Charles, but my letter containing the correct interpretation of Catholic teaching on conscience did not prevent Rob Flello’s spokesman (Chris Whitehouse) repeating their falsehoods in The Universe article, to be published this weekend. And they are OBVIOUSLY in bad conscience, ironically, because Whitehouse’s “Catholic Taliban” article doesn’t actually name us!

      July 19, 2013 at 9:04 am
      • Petrus

        Here’s my letter to that poor, hapless Mr Flello:

        Dear Mr Flello,

        I write to you regarding your comments on the right of Catholic MPs to follow their own conscience when voting on moral issues, rather than obey the law of God.

        Your argument, Mr Flello, is seriously flawed. In your letter to the editor of Catholic Truth, you quote from Saint Bonaventure and the Second Vatican Council document “Gaudium Et Spes”. However, surely you realise that these quotes condemn your own stance, rather than support it? You would do well to reflect on what Saint Bonaventure writes regarding conscience:

        ““Conscience is like God’s herald and messenger; it does not command things on its own authority, but commands them as coming from God’s authority.”

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

        “Moral conscience,present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.49 It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.”

        Regarding the formation of conscience, the Catechism goes on to say:

        “Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.”

        An informed conscience cannot contradict the law of God. Indeed, rather than obey their conscience, which is the voice of God and teaching of the Church, MPs who choose to vote against the law of God “prefer their own judgement”. They inflict moral harm and undermine the common good. This is why they cannot receive Holy Communion. They are ipso facto excommunicates.

        I find it quite frightening that the Convener of the Catholic Legislators’ Network can be so confused on this issue which is of huge significance to politicians. You should be leading the way on this issue and making this clear to your fellow MPs. However, it would seem that human respect has gotten in the way, as is all too common.

        Your accusation that Catholic Truth harms the Church is hypocritical, scurrilous and downright uncharitable. Catholic MPs who flout the moral law and publicly ignore God’s law do damage to the Church and society. It is indeed a sign of these confusing times, indeed a symptom of the Great Apostasy foretold at Fatima, that a leading Catholic MP cannot recognise this.

        July 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm
  • Crossraguel

    Friday’s Catholic Herald:

    MPs clash with lobby group over conscience


    A GROUP of Catholic peers and MPs has criticised campaigners for their response to parliamentarians who abstained from votes on same-sex marriage.

    Robert Flello MP, convenor of the Catholic Legislators’ Network in Westminster, accused Catholic Truth Scotland of a “condemnatory” approach.

    Mr Flello said: “The shared experience of Catholic Parliamentarians, whichever way they chose to vote, has been that these decisions were hugely important and most difficult.

    “I know from private conversations with a large number of Catholic colleagues that the overwhelming majority, indeed all those to whom I have spoken, reached their final position in relation to this measure only after carefully informing, intensely examining and then voting in accordance with their conscience, an approach which our Church not only permits, but in fact demands.”

    Patricia McKeever, the editor of Catholic Truth Scotland, wrote the following to Mr Flello: “You refer to conscience in this matter of same-sex marriage legislation as though it were absolute: as though each man’s conscience were his own God. This is a very great error, subversive of the natural and moral order established by God.”

    July 21, 2013 at 8:40 am
    • editor

      Thanks for posting that, Crossraguel. Two different people showed it to me this morning.

      I seldom use the word “liar” – sometimes it’s not easy to know if someone just doesn’t KNOW something and, therefore, he/she has misrepresented another without meaning to do so, or if – like Miss Teahan – they know the truth but decide to misrepresent anyway. That makes someone a liar.

      I’ve now posted a thread on the
      Catholic Herald & Homosexuality – A Marriage of Convenience so take a look!

      July 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm
      • Athanasius


        I have already posted my thoughts on the new thread. These so-called Catholics beggar belief! They are certainly no more than nominal Catholics at best.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm
  • Alexandria

    Hello to every one, since I am actually eager of reading this web site’s post to be updated daily. It consists of fastidious information.

    August 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm
    • editor


      I’m afraid the website homepage isn’t updated daily – it sometimes changes on a daily basis for a bit when there is a major news story to update, but generally we update every two, three or four days. I mean, who’d want to remove that lively questioning man on the current homepage until necessary? He’s one groovy guy!

      The Links page is also updated from time to time and recently we added a link to the Online Rosary – which is available to learn in English and Latin.

      If, however, you refer to this blog, well, the bloggers here are very much on the ball so it’s worth keeping an eye on the updates here. But don’t come directly to the blog – come via the website so you don’t miss any updates and don’t forget to vote in our polls.


      ps it’s very interesting that you have come to us just when Constantine the Great (and Freud) disappeared. Very interesting…

      August 8, 2013 at 9:02 am
  • Athanasius



    I am glad you find this blog informative. I hope it helps to answer any questions you have in relation to the present crisis in the Church.

    God bless.

    August 7, 2013 at 10:24 pm

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