With reference to your Special Correspondent's report (January 18) of Fr. Michael Hollings's lecture on Catholic attitudes to sexual inversion delivered at Golders Green, is there not a danger that, as expressed in that report, the teaching of the Church may be misunderstood on the following points? I quote (italics mine): 1--"From the commandment 'Thou shall not commit adultery' the Church had in the past deduced that any sexual relationship outside marriage was sinful, and homosexual liaisons were still generally regarded in that light."
One could easily derive from this that the Catholic Church has (a) already changed her teaching about some sexual relations outside marriage, (b)1 might change her teaching with regard to homosexuality in the future and (c) that this commandment so interpreted is the only scriptural source for the grave sinfulness of such acts. The word "liaisons" is somewhat ambiguous, of
2 — "Fr. Hollings felt, however, that commandments should be interpreted according to circumstances," is there not a danger here that a reader may see in these remarks an encouragement of situation ethics, condemned by Pope Pius XII?
3 — "The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' was used to veto abortion but could he overridden in exceptional circumstances such as war". The commandment is always interpreted by the Church as `Thou shalt not kill the innocent'. This text cannot be taken in isolation and the Ten Commandments are obviously summaries. Also texts such as Genesis IX, 6. and Romans XIII, 4, should also be taken into consideration.
4 — The Church's condemnation of homosexuality is by no means derived entirely from the Sixth Commandment as formulated in Exodus XX, 14. Events as well as precepts are often the judgment of God in the Bible. and in this instance the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis XIX) is relevant and has influenced Jewish and Christian thought on the evil of homosexuality, though the natural law also condemns it.
It may be that Fr. Hollings has not been correctly reported. In which case 1 trust that this letter may do him a service. Fr. L. E. Whatmore St. Wilfred's, South Road, Hailsham, Sussex.
Fr. Hollings was not misreported — Editor-designate.