Bishop knew about deaf priest's love child
- Created: 05 September 2009 05 September 2009
Father Peter has been involved with the Catholic Deaf Association. He was ordained by John Paul II himself and recently celebrated his Silver Jubilee. The association's conference will be held in the Salford diocese in 2009.
Undoubtedly, Father Peter will be condemned by the 'scribes' and others who demand adherence to the letter of the law. Undoubtedly, he has broken his vows of celibacy.
But the real scandal is that he has had to resign, and that the Catholic Church has lost a parish priest its members will sorely miss.
According to the RNID, There are about nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. One of them is a woman I've become good friends with, through my son's friendship with her son. Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, deaf from birth and married to a hearing man with a hearing son and daughter, is a talented artist, art therapist and heavily involved in working with and on behalf of the Asian deaf community in Britain. Through her, I have been privileged to have gained a small insight into the community of deaf people in Britain, the intricacies, beauty and sometimes humour of BSL, the isolation that can arise.
People with visible disabilities, or carrying the white stick of the blind, are immediately 'known' on sight to the rest of us. With deaf people, there is nothing to tell us beforehand.
It is understandable that many deaf people make their lives within the deaf community and don't venture out into the hearing world, which must seem hostile, frightening and unforgiving.
A few, like Rubbena and Father Peter, do find it within themselves to cross that divide and gift our hearing world with their presence. They become bridges between the us and the sounds of silence. Such inviduals are rare, and the courage they possess is immense.
Without wishing to presume on a relationship about which I know nothing, just imagine for a second the overpowering love that Father Peter must have felt for the mother of his son, who he is still in regular contact with, for it to override his vow to God as well as all these other inhibitions put in place by his disability. It must have been even more powerful, given the scandal that he must have known would certainly follow. How can such love not have been of God?
And imagine the courage of Bishop Terence Brain in deciding to allow this rare and unusual priest to continue in his minstry, bringing his godly gifts to the people of the Catholic Church. Bishop Terence must surely have seen this priest's holiness to act thus.
With so many ex-Anglican priests now in Catholic ministry, wives and children attached, what harm could it possibly bring to the Catholic Church to let Father Peter remain a priest and in his parish?
Of course I know the answers to all these questions, answers about canon law, due process, dispensations, Rome and the rest. There was never a chance for this priest, and the Church's loss has been his son's gain.
But wouldn't it have made Jesus weep?
If Christ could once make the blind see, why won't He do it now?
Ruth Gledhill is on Twitter.