Folau a disservice to Christianity: NZ Catholic Church

When Israel Folau made similar remarks in 2018, he escaped with a warning but no sanction. Photo: AP
Following the fallout, New Zealand Catholic Church spokeswoman Dame Lyndsay Freer told the Herald she feels Folau's words are damaging to the Christian faith. Photo: AP

The New Zealand Catholic Church has spoken out against controversial rugby star Israel Folau saying he has done a disservice to the church following his comments against homosexuals.

On Wednesday Folau posted a message on Instagram warning "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars and fornicators" among others that hell awaits them unless they repent.

"Those that are living in sin will end up in hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him," his post said.

Following the fallout, New Zealand Catholic Church spokeswoman Dame Lyndsay Freer told the Herald she feels Folau's words are damaging to the Christian faith and believes he portrays God's messages in a negative light.

"I feel very sorry for what Israel Folau has done. I don't think he's done himself and I don't think he's done our Christian faith any great service by saying what he's said and putting it the way he did," she said in an exclusive interview with the Herald.

"Because that's presenting God as a God of punishment and a God of vengeance, not a God of love, and mercy and compassion.

"It's dangerous territory when you lump everyone together as sinners and damned because at the end of the day it's God that makes that judgement, not us, and not Israel Folau.

"There is such a thing as sin, we're all sinners in some way. But at the end of the day it's not for me or anyone else to condemn a person, we don't know what goes in their life and what has bought them to where they are.

"That's really what God's forgiveness and compassion is all about. God is a God of love and compassion and that's the God Jesus always points out.

"Pope Francis is big on God being a God of love, not a God of judgement."

Earlier last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed a review into hate and free speech would be conducted and revealed Folau's comments fell short of the legal definition of hate speech.

However on Monday, Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki defended the Bible, questioning those who claim it contains elements of hate speech.

Despite questions raised over the hate and free speech discussion, Freer says the messages in the Bible come down to interpretation.

She explains the messages Jesus preached were ones of love and compassion.

"A lot of it is to do with one's interpretation of the scripture. Christianity is all about Jesus Christ. There's very little hate speech in anything he ever said.

"When he came to the question of homophobia, which is what people have accused Israel Folau of, Pope Francis was asked a question about homosexuality and he said 'if a person seeks the Lord with a sincere heart, who am I to judge them?'.

"God is the judge at the end of the day. None of us knows what goes on in the heart of every single person and what is behind what they are and what they do."

Meanwhile, Folau has been given two days to formally respond to Rugby Australia, or face the sack following his comments.

He has until Wednesday 3pm to respond before his contract is either terminated or the matter will head to a tribunal hearing.

Comments

Lynn Freer knows that Catholic church doctrine teaches there is a judgment on exactly the sins Folau has outlined. Lynn Freer also knows the Catholic Church teaches there is Purgatory and has taught a real Hell for those outside the Roman Catholic Church. I agree with Lynn Freer that "Christianity is all about Jesus Christ." Contrary to her saying, "There's very little hate speech in anything he ever said," however, there is NO hate speech in anything Jesus taught. Repentance and faith in Christ is the only way to deal with all the sin we have and to trust God the Father to save us completely. "The Second Vatican Council, p. 63, says, "The truth has been divinely revealed that sins are followed by punishments. God's holiness and justice inflict them. Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries, and trials of this life and, above all, through death. Otherwise, the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments."