With the beatification and probable canonization of John Henry Cardinal Newman, the church is being handed an opportunity to stand behind their statements about gay people–about being loved, and welcomed, and entitled to human dignity and all that. The church states it welcomes homosexuals to be full participating members as long as they are chaste and celibate.
Cardinal Newman could be a gay saint (beautiful lips, soulful eyes) – one that followed their rules to the letter and never engaged (as far as can be surmised) in any sexual relations with men. He was a vowed virgin when it came to women.
He lived for many years with another priest – Fr. Ambrose St. John – and when he died Newman was clear he wished to be buried in the same grave.
How many football and hunting buddies ask to be buried in the same grave? Not many – so it’s not some male bonding thing.
So, why doesn’t the church claim him as a gay Catholic? Why don’t they promote him as our role model? John Newman would be a lot more famous, glamorous, and viable role model than the sad, depressing, guilty and ashamed members of Courage.
Here’s the reason: because homosexuals need to keep it secret. The church does not welcome any *out * homosexuals, whether we are celibate or sexually active. You can be a gay Catholic–just have the grace and good taste to keep it to yourself.
Last month, the Vatican announced plans to move Newman’s remains from his small, shared gravesite to a specially built sarcophagus in the Oratory Church of Birmingham, where, officials say, they will be more accessible for veneration by the faithful.
But British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell sees ulterior motives in exhuming the Cardinal: “embarrassment” because of his relationship with Fr. St. John.
“They were inseparable, they lived together for half a century, effectively like husband and wife,” says Tatchell. “There were repeated allegations during (Newman’s) lifetime about his circle of homosexual friends. It was uncertain whether or not their relationship involved sex. It is quite likely both men had a gay orientation but chose to abstain from sexual relations. But abstinence does not alter a person’s sexual orientation.”
Tatchell says the two men’s bond, and Newman’s abiding wish to have his final resting place next to St. John’s, make separating their remains “an act of dishonesty and betrayals by homophobes in the Vatican.”
In a 1990 address marking a century since Newman’s death, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke about the profound impact Newman’s views had on young German seminarians in the wake of the Nazi regime. “For us at the time, Newman’s teaching on conscience became an important foundation for theological personalism, which was drawing us all into its sway,” Ratzinger said. “We had experienced the claim of a totalitarian party, which understood itself as the fulfillment of history and which negated the conscience of the individual.”