Archived comments from post: "Why orthodox Catholics are angry with the Legion of Christ," by Michael Rose (Musings, June 1, 2005):
Rome continues to insist there is no process investigating these charges. Is Michael Rose all wet on this? I don't know. Michael Rose has clearly established himself as an investigative journalist upon whom one can lean, but he's placing himself against the official word from Rome. Perhaps we need to read Romanita more carefully?
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.01.05 - 8:26 am | #
You could be right. On the other hand, I hate to ignore a lot of really angry conservative Catholic folk who insist there's a problem. All of us need prayer (and to pray) for discernment.
pb | 06.01.05 - 1:57 pm | #
I don't know enough about these things to have an opinion one way or the other, so in charity I must assume the charges against Fr. Maciel are not true -- unless and until I can find good evidence to the contrary. As for Michael Rose, I do know that, as necessary as it was for someone to write about the efforts to homosexualise the clergy, his book does contain some pretty serious errors, as some reviewers have pointed out -- so Rose definitely isn't infallible. With that in mind, I must exercise caution in what he says about Fr. Maciel.
St. Polycarp | 06.01.05 - 1:59 pm | #
I'm not impressed with this column. I would now prefer to read the aforementioned book and other sources than make any opinions or conclusions based on this review/article full of anecdotal evidence and hasty conclusions. Such a serious accusation requires much more thorough proof and a steady voice than what Mr. Rose provides here. I'm not saying Mr. Rose doesn't have such evidence; I'm saying he does not present it here. Yet I agree though, the nature of the accusations demands further public and charitable scrutiny of this priest of God.
Oscar | 06.02.05 - 1:42 am | #
St. Polycarp, do you mean the errors alleged of Rose regarding the case in the seminary in Louvain, Belgium; and, if so, have you followed the rebuttals in the pages of the NOR? Just curious.
pb | 06.02.05 - 4:35 pm | #
Let's not rush to judgment -- the Michael Jackson case shows how easily evidence is distorted.
However, a wider question would need to be raised if these allegations were true. Supposing that the founder of Legionaries of Christ were a sexually confused man, who had got the lines crossed between his zealous piety and his sexual desires, would this not make the zeal and piety themselves of doubtful alloy? And why then did John Paul II promote this brand of piety so zealously while giving the Jesuits and other tried and tested tradition such contemptuous treatment? So-called "orthodoxy" seems to override any sensibility to freaky personality traits or to sectlike cultures in the new religious movements (acclaimed by Ratzinger, too, as the only good thing in the Church since Vatican II).
Joe O'Leary | 06.03.05 - 10:38 pm | #
"St. Polycarp, do you mean the errors alleged of Rose regarding the case in the seminary in Louvain, Belgium; and, if so, have you followed the rebuttals in the pages of the NOR? Just curious."
Yes, the Louvain case is one of the things I was referring to, but no, I wasn't aware of any rebuttals in NOR. Probably the last things I read about problems in Rose's book was this:
These criticisms were quite substantive, and were sympathetic as well, not hostile or unfair. As I recall, Mr. Rose did not respond all that substantively to these criticisms, but instead engaged in diversionary tactics, including unwarranted personal attacks. I would like to read NOR's rebuttals, but I don't have access to the issues in which they appeared, and haven't been able to find any online editions.
St. Polycarp | 06.04.05 - 1:50 am | #
"Let's not rush to judgment -- the Michael Jackson case shows how easily evidence is distorted. However, a wider question would need to be raised if these allegations were true. . . . So-called 'orthodoxy' seems to override any sensibility to freaky personality traits or to sectlike cultures in the new religious movements . . ."
Perhaps it would be better if these serious allegations against Fr. Maciel were substantiated before one suggests that religious orders founded by homosexual priests are typical of the kinds of new orders and religious movements that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have favored.
St. Polycarp | 06.04.05 - 1:58 am | #
"Legionaries of Christ" has sectlike traits such as one also finds in others of the new religious movements. I remember them in Rome in 1973, very closed and uncommunicative toward their fellow students. The "Focolare" was a nicer organization; I once dined with them and was subjected to very methodical "love-bombing", another sectlike trait. "Founded by a homosexual priest" sounds like oh-me-oh-my faux-naif homophobia -- lots of homosexual priests founded things, just look at JHN above -- there is nothing at all wrong with being homosexual (sorry, Your Holiness) but there is a lot wrong with acting out an improper sex-life under the guise of piety with those in your charge. The kind of skewed thinking that involves flourishes in sectlike environments. Once you say goodbye to transparency (Opus Dei springs to mind) and over-emphasize hierarchy, blind obedience and masochistic piety, you are heading for the reefs of perverted sexual behavior. As Blaise Pascal so magnificently said, Qui veut faire l'ange fait la bete -- If you force yourself to be an angel you'll end as a beast.
Joe O'Leary | 06.04.05 - 5:31 am | #
Does Christianity have to be all about sexual tittle-tattle and creepiness? I see an article in Stimmen der Zeit on ecclesiogenic neuroses -- that is, sexual hang-ups produced by ecclesiastical culture -- so what I said above about sects may only be the tip of a wider ecclesial iceberg.
Joe O'Leary | 06.04.05 - 5:34 am | #
Polycarp must be wishing I'd go back to Latin.
Joe O'Leary | 06.04.05 - 5:36 am | #
My wife has a booklet that the legion puts out that outlines the troubles that founders of orders have faced, i.e. their persecution. Each chapter is a different saint; subtle, isn't it. Its a way to head off the brain before it makes it to the pass.
jayson | Homepage | 06.04.05 - 10:21 am | #
"Does Christianity have to be all about sexual tittle-tattle and creepiness?"
Interesting you would ask that question right after leveling the creepy accusation that John Henry Cardinal Newman suffered from (and perhaps acted upon?) same-sex attraction disorder.
So Fr. O'Leary, are there any Catholic teachings that you believe?
St. Polycarp | 06.04.05 - 1:48 pm | #
Polycarp, try the NICENE CREED for a sample of my beliefs. Newman's gaynesss, which you describe in such creepy language, is one of the sources of his immense appeal; you seem unaware of his life and writings.
Joe O'Leary | 06.05.05 - 10:21 am | #
I contest your statement that you accept the entire content of the Nicene Creed. The only way, based on your writings here, that you could make such a statement is if you could choose to mean by the various propositions whatsoever you wanted. Jesus ROSE from the Dead, yet you seem intent on emptying it of its significance.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.05.05 - 7:20 pm | #
Jesus rose from the dead OR God raised him from the dead OR God exalted the crucified one -- these are the basic terms of the apostolic witness; their interpretation in detail varies a lot even within the pages of the New Testament. As to the SIGNIFICANCE of the resurrection/exaltation of Jesus, the entire NT shows this -- the resurrection is intimately connected with the eschatological future -- an event not graspable in positivist or fundamentalist terms. Could you explain your own interpretation of it?
Joe O'Leary | 06.05.05 - 11:30 pm | #
You have claimed elsewhere not to accept the literalist or fundamentalist (or whatever you call it) position on 1) The Resurrection and 2) The Infancy Narrative.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.06.05 - 9:00 pm | #
Oh, and one more thought. The Church doesn't have to be all about sexual tittle-tattle, but the Church has the right, from Christ, and indeed the obligation, to teach about something so intimately related to love and so often distorted to sinful purposes as sex and acts which modern society counts as sexual.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.07.05 - 2:46 pm | #
This is a free and open forum for the exchange of ideas, within the limits prescribed by good will and good taste. While I disagree with some of your basic assumptions, I have appreciated your input here, as I hope to continue to. There is one thing I wish you would abstain from doing, however. Please abstain from insinuations of homosexual perversion against the Venerable Cardinal Newman who is the patron of this site. It's one thing if you have incriminating evidence you wish to offer. You have none. The fact that Newman was intimate friends with Ambrose St. John, that they loved each other and were virtually inseparable in life and in death (even being buried in the same grave) is no evidence of anything tawdry between the two. There are countless examples of same-sex friendships from ancient and classical history and literature -- Pylades and Orestes, Roland and Oliver, Amis and Amile, David and Jonathan, Jesus and John, Augustine and his friend, to mention a few -- which might be described as profoundly intimate without being perverse.
One would have to be blind to overlook the proliferation of homosexual perversion that infects many same-sex relationships today. Today we probably contend in giving decadent Greece and Rome a run for their money.
But an inclination to read sexual perversion into every same-sex friendship naturally raises as many questions about your judgment as it does about Newman and others you have mentioned previosly.
From my own familiarity with Newman's works, I feel that I practically know him. I have visited all his haunts -- in Oxford, Littlemore, Birmingham, Ireland, even Italy. I have gone to Rednal and paid my solitary respects at his gravesite. Surely his friendship with Ambrose St. John was closer than a brother's. I also have a friend such as this, as I am confident others must also have. But not for one moment would I contenance so much as a thought of anything unchaste in Newman's intimate friendship or my own. Rather, it is a pure gift of God.
Contray to your suggestion, Newman himself was an icon of purity in Victorian society. A number of known homosexuals, like Oscar Wilde, corresonded with Newman--particularly about the prospect of becoming Catholic. But Wilde never worked up the courage to actually go see Newman. He seems to have instinctively known that such a visit would seal his convictions about the necessity of becoming a Catholic, which would mean giving up his life of homsexual self-indulgence. Once Wilde visited the Brompton Oratory, where he talked to a priest. The experience left him so shaken by the reality of the Hound of Heaven's pursuit of him, that he fled and never returned--except years later on his deathbed where, thank God, a priest found him.
Thanks in advance, Fr. O'Leary, for saying no more about Newman that would insinuate anything untoward on this matter.
pb | 06.07.05 - 4:28 pm | #
"Polycarp, try the NICENE CREED for a sample of my beliefs."
It's very good to know that you do believe the articles of the Creed -- including the bit about Jesus rising from the dead, in accordance with the Scriptures.
"Newman's gaynesss, which you describe in such creepy language, is one of the sources of his immense appeal; you seem unaware of his life and writings."
To that, I'll only say that anyone who thinks Cardinal Newman was a homosexual doesn't have much awareness of his life and writings. There may be grounds to wonder about Fr. Maciel, but nothing to support the homosexualist claim that Newman suffered from same-sex attraction disorder.
St. Polycarp | 06.08.05 - 12:00 am | #
I never accused JHN of homosexual perversion or anything tawdry, that is in your own mind. I merely alluded to the widely held view the Newman was gay. His impassioned love for R. H. Froude, his habit of burying his head in the cloaks of his male friends when depressed, his celebration of passionate male-male friendship in his essays on Basil and Gregory Nazianzen or his meditations on Philip Neri, his sermon on The Parting of Friends, and countless other passages (including from his letters) are all best explained on the simple hyposthesis that his temperament was in fact predominantly homosexual. There is no corresponding display of affection (including clutching friends' hands in tears) towards women, with the sole exception of his sister who died when he was in his twenties. To talk of this as "incriminating" is to betray a depth of homophobia which I find astonishing.
Joe O'Leary | 06.08.05 - 2:54 am | #
St Polycarp, so you claim to know Newman's life and writings? Or are you avoiding my question?
Joe O'Leary | 06.08.05 - 2:56 am | #
Philip, there is an ambiguity in what you say. Why spend so much space on defending Newman's chastity, something that has not been in question? You are avoiding the issue I raised. Is not that the same kind of defensiveness and obfuscation that lies behind the Church's policy of denial on the grave sexual scandals of today? As far as I know NO ONE has ever accused Newman of acting out genital sexuality, though many homophobes made fun of Newman's cult of male friendship; see Geoffrey Faber's The Oxford Apostles. Augustine, by the way, was in all probability bisexual -- he talks of embraces between male friends that are indicia benevolentiae without unchaste intent. That makes no sense if same-sex attraction was not a possibility. I notice that you even deny that Socrates had homosexual feelings -- yet when he saw inside the young Charmides's cloak he "caught fire" and recognized the wisdom of the poet's dictum "bring not the tender kid into proximity with the hungry lion" (Charmides 155 C-D). I hope you will not think it in bad taste to quote Plato or a sign of bad will to insist on a little truth, honesty, and decency in the way we talk about our brothers and sisters and their sexuality. A logical implication of your letter is that you think even sexually continent gays are impure or incriminated in some way. Should you not question this strange prejudice?
Joe O'Leary | 06.08.05 - 3:17 am | #
"I never accused JHN of homosexual perversion or anything tawdry, that is in your own mind. I merely alluded to the widely held view that Newman was gay."
You called him a "homosexual priest."
"Gay" means someone who engages in homosexual acts and in open about it.
"I never accused Joe Blow of murder, that is in your own mind. I merely alluded to the widely held view that Blow used a shotgun to kill someone for the thrill of it."
St. Polycarp | 06.08.05 - 8:41 am | #
Polycarp, this all began a while back when Dr Blosser posted a piece saying homosexuals should be weeded out of the priesthood. The word homosexuals in that context did NOT refer to sexually active men but to people of homosexual disposition. It was in that context that I pointed out the irony of a website under the patronage of JHN, a homosexual priest, calling for the abolition of homosexual priests. Also, you yourself have changed your tack -- earlier you accused me of libeling JHN by suggesting he had what you call same-sex attraction disorder or whatever your phrase was. Now you say I suggested he was sexually active -- does that mean you now agree with me that JHN was homosexual in temperament and that you are looking for some new topic to disagree with me on? In any case, for the record, I have never suspected even for a moment that JHN was sexually active -- his writings show clearly that he was a committed virginal celibate, just as clearly as they show his deep and passionate love for a number of men.
Joe O'Leary | 06.09.05 - 3:25 am | #
As I said above, you have accused Cardinal Newman BOTH of suffering from same-sex attraction disorder (or in your euphemism, being "homosexual in temperament") and of engaging in homosexual acts and being open about (being "gay"). There is no proof he was either.
St. Polycarp | 06.09.05 - 8:26 am | #
Where did I say JHN engaged in homosexual acts? What are you on about? I do say that JHN loved men with passion and longing. He had many women friends too, at least in later life, but I think you will find that they were sisterly or motherly figures, or a certain kind of women who love priests, especially gay ones, either because they find them more sensitive, or sexually unthreatening, or because of a distaste for male sexuality, sometimes tinged with lesbianism. Please note that I do not consider such relationships and friendships in any way tawdry -- surrogate mothers/children or sisters/brothers and other quaint psychosexual and affective dynamics can cement excellent friendships, even if cynics trash them.
Joe O'Leary | 06.09.05 - 9:23 am | #
The great love of Newman's life, Richard Hurrell Froude, was probably more heterosexual than homosexual, and Newman's feelings were largely unreciprocated. Froude died young and Newman had his private diaries published after his death in order to immortalize his beloved friend (the publication caused great embarrassment at the time). The "bright and beautiful Froude" was a striking Romantic figure, as one can see in the portrait that used to hang in Newman's residence at Littlemore (and that has been mysteriously removed -- possibly to build up the de-homosexualized Newman that the Vatican want to beatify). Oxford in the 1830s was entranced by the drama and romance of Newman's and Keble's Movement -- and the very core of this romance is Froude -- remember that only a decade or so previously the Romantic deaths of Keats, Shelley and Byron had imprinted themselves deep on sensitive literary minds. JHN writes of the "lovelight" in his or their eyes, or some such phrase, in a letter after first meeting Froude -- love at first sight! (Ambrose St John, at a later date, loved JHN at first sight, and probably more than JHN loved him.) When Newman re-edited his Prophetic Office of the Church 50 years later, in extreme old age, and after Ambrose's death, the memory of Froude came back -- footnote after footnote evoke "my dear friend" "my very dear friend" -- rather beyond the call of theological duty. All this is very touching. The dialogue between the Soul and the (male) Angel in The Dream of Gerontius comes from the same depth of sentiment as does the lovely ending of JHN's most successful poem: "And in the morn, those angel faces smile/Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile". By the way all this is wonderfully evoked in Meriol Trevor's two volume biography; the more recent work of Ian Ker is drier, too anxious to prove that JHN was not a "girlie man".
Joe O'Leary | 06.09.05 - 9:24 am | #
On the issue of "proof", I think the situation of JHN is similar to that of GM Hopkins or Henry James -- in the case of the latter two it has been found that the most illuminating way to read their works is to take the most plausible view of their sexuality, namely that they were gay. The same hermeneutic has been applied illuminatingly to Newman by some biographers, explicitly or tacitly, but a deep literary study of Newman has not yet been achieved. Newman was not a self-hating homosexual, but was very open, confessional, and demonstrative in his expressions of affection; he affirmed his feelings, as the cult of Romantic friendship and his mastery of classical and patristic sources (Plato, Cicero, Basil-and-Gregory) that lent depth and nobility to such friendship allowed him to. People used to say the Henry James was an asexual author -- no one would say it today, because we have learned to read his texts. In the same way, Newman is sometimes caricatured as a sexless man, but that is also the result of imperceptive reading. He gives plenty of hints about his intimate feelings, though rarely mentioning sex (sexual temptation is not a theme of his preaching; religious indifference, nominal belief, is his target). His contemporaries and their heirs such as Geoffrey Faber could talk about the Oxford Movement in the same tones as people today go on about alleged "homosexual coteries" in seminaries, using words like "effeminate". The whole discourse swirling about the Oxford Movement needs to be revisited and read with an eye to the sexual innuendo. When Newman, on his last legs with the Church of England, retired to this "monastery" in Littlemore he was the target of a lot of rumors -- it would be interesting to see what sexual motifs are insinuated in these (bearing in mind the prejudices against "Romish" monasteries that would have been in the air). The wonder is that Newman never let people bully him into becoming a stuffy cleric but continued to radiate his special warmth.
Joe O'Leary | 06.09.05 - 9:41 am | #
The only thing known about Henry James's sexual life is that he loved to hug and to be hugged by young male friends in later life. Newman also loved such Platonic demonstrations, and I personally believer they were a source of sufficient affective satisfaction to him that we can say he missed nothing by not having any other sexual life. Perhaps the same could be said of James, but there are dark tales of unfulfillment and perpetual loneliness, such as The Beast in the Jungle, that give one pause. Newman was on the whole a very a happy man, having of course a stupendous intellectual and spiritual life in addition to his rich web of affectionate friendships. He was in the public limelight only in the 30s and again as Rector of the new Dublin university in the 50s. For the rest he followed the wisdom of the ancients in living off the beaten track, in a peaceful backwater.
Joe O'Leary | 06.09.05 - 9:53 am | #
Perhaps it is time to stop swatting flies. Father O'Leary appears, somewhat like Loissy, to refuse to recognize that he is outside the Catholic tradition. None of the posters on this list defines that tradition, but that it exists is beyond dispute. Father O'Leary refers to the unfortunate philosophy of our Holy Father because that philosophy stiffles debate and academic freedom. Yet the simple truth is that, by any objective historical standard, Benedict XVI is among the most liberal of popes. He is still, of course, the Pope, but to lambaste him with the perjorative epithets which have been hurled at him here is to engage in breath-taking ignorance of the truth.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.09.05 - 10:46 am | #
It is highly disturbing to encounter a Catholic priest who identifies HUGS as sexual. Are handshakes and pats on the back sexual too?
St. Polycarp | 06.09.05 - 2:46 pm | #
If hugs are sexual, does that mean I have had sex with my children? (It's a rhetorical question. Don't call DCF)
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.09.05 - 5:24 pm | #
"Where did I say JHN engaged in homosexual acts? What are you on about? I do say that JHN loved men with passion and longing."
Are you retracting your reference to Cardinal Newman being "gay"? Because "gays" engage in perverted sexual acts, and do so openly.
As I said above, it's pretty disturbing to read your comments and allegations about Cardinal Newman. One comes away seriously wondering if you aren't blurring the lines between friendship, affection, and sexual activity and attraction. In any case, you're only reinforcing the facts that Cardinal Newman was not, as you alleged, a sufferer of same-sex attraction disorder, commonly known as homosexuality.
St. Polycarp | 06.09.05 - 6:42 pm | #
@Are you retracting your reference to Cardinal Newman being "gay"? Because "gays" engage in perverted sexual acts, and do so openly.@ Sorry, your definition of the word does not correspond to mine, nor, I think, does it correspond to common usage. We hear a lot about gay teenagers, with no suggestion that they are sexually active, and we also hear of closeted gays, who are not "open".
@As I said above, it's pretty disturbing to read your comments and allegations about Cardinal Newman. One comes away seriously wondering if you aren't blurring the lines between friendship, affection, and sexual activity and attraction. In any case, you're only reinforcing the facts that Cardinal Newman was not, as you alleged, a sufferer of same-sex attraction disorder, commonly known as homosexuality.@ If so, why do you find the facts as I related them so disturbing? You should be happy that I have reinforced your perception that JHN was not homosexual. What I would like to hear is your recitation of facts indicating that he was in fact heterosexual, as you presumably claim?
I agree, of course, that friendship and affection are not always sexual, but I think Newman's passionate, romantic, longing-filled friendships with Froude and some others, and the ABSENCE of any such feeling for women throughout his long and well-documented life, plausibly suggest that his psychosexual orientation was predominantly or exclusively toward his own sex.
I do not think he was sexually conflicted -- he has simply ruled sexual enactment out of court as inconceivable at least for him, and in one of his sermons he warns those who indulge that they are flouting the clear word of Scripture. Even for a man as profane as Henry James, sexual acting out could be unthinkable in the Victorian age. Fred Kaplan writes of James: "Something extraordinary began happening to James in the mid-1890s.. He fell in love a number of times... it was a powerful feeling. He had a need for intimacy.. Each time he fell in love, he placed the emphasis on friendship, not on physical consummation, which remained as dangerous, as threatening, as morally and culturally difficult for him as it had always been." I can't argue with you that all this is not perversion but normal and natural; it feels like arguing that blacks are not inferior or that Jews are not deicides.
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 12:18 am | #
Hey, hugs are of course not always sexual. But they also very often are. In the case of Henry James the sexual connotations of his hugging are quite clear, as his rich correspondence with young men shows.
@ O'Leary appears, somewhat like Loissy [recte Loisy] , to refuse to recognize that he is outside the Catholic tradition@ -- along with Raymond Brown of the Vatican Biblical Commission? Lagrange, the foremost Catholic exegete of the early 20th Century? Karl Rahner and other architects of Vatican II? And I suspect that we will soon be hearing from you that Joseph Ratzinger is not the full shilling either, since you agree with me that theologically "Benedict XVI is among the most liberal of popes," or at least was in his youth. Karl Rahner warned that the real heresy would come from fundamentalists ready to throw a hissy fit when any of their rigid ill-informed opinions are put in question.
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 12:26 am | #
Barren, abusive -- sad for Phil that he cannot find more open-minded and above all more charitable respondents on this website.
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 12:28 am | #
There is no record of Nemwan ever having touched a woman, as far as I know. His mother touched him in his thirties and he recoiled instinctively (as he sadly records in one of his letters - he was a supreme self-analyst). As rector of his school in Birmingham he said to the other priests one day, "I must touch on an issue I never thought I should have to address. There are certain natural indications of affection which are perfectly innocent but which the world is prone to misconstrue. And that is why, dear Fathers, I must ask you in future not to take any of the boys to your rooms" (or words to that effect, see Newman the Oratorian, ed. Placid Murray). Demonstrative tenderness among males was the very element of Newman's emotional life; he spent his whole life from the age of 16 in all-male communities, by choice, and even within those all-male communities he raised eyebrows by the intensity of his friendships. Homophobes who hope to find an ally in Newman are certainly knocking at the wrong door! He was not even a self-hating gay like Marcel Proust, but serenely happy with his affective disposition. Or say his homosexuality was harmoniously sublated in homosociality.
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 12:51 am | #
Newman's intense romantic feelings for other men makes a lot of men get hot under their macho collars. Homophobia is often a deep-rooted pathology and it takes more than Newman's powerful charm to melt it away. It would be nice if the Vatican, instead of trying to propagate a pseudo-psychology of Newman as just a regular guy were to hold him up as a model of chaste gay living, canonizing him on those grounds.
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 12:57 am | #
Remember the old joke about the shortest theological dissertations? One was "The Sexual Life of Cardinal Newman". But actually, to judge from our discussion here, it could actually be a very long dissertation. As a great writer -- perhaps the greatest master of English prose; James Joyce thought so -- Newman offers an amazingly rich mind for exploration, and those attuned to the homophile overtones will find a lot to write about.
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 1:00 am | #
correction, "rich mind" shd be "rich mine".
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 1:02 am | #
Trawling through a few Newman books, I feel again the stifling character of that Victorian world (but the world of Newman devotees is even more stifling), yet am again touched to read the letters between Froude and Newman at the end of the former's life.
I find that the incident re JHN's mother, as recounted by David Newsome in The Convert Cardinals is slightly less significant perhaps when quoted in full: "I have some sort of dread and distress, which I cannot describe, of being the object of attention... I recollect about two years ago, after I had fainted away, my Mother most kindly stooping down to take my feet and put them on the sofa. I started up -- I could not bear it. I saw she was hurt, yet I did not know how to put things right. I felt it something quite shocking that anyone, above all she, should so minister to me" (Letters and Diaries V 314). Meriol Trevor tries to make much of Newman's female acquaintances; it is Sean O'Faolain who best deals with Froude: "When Hurrell and he addressed one another as carissime, the Southern word broke through racial reserve to the truth of their love" (Newman's Way, p. 149). Newman and Froude chatted about their theological activities all the time, but the beginnings and endings of their letter strain to speak their affection: "My dearest N" (V 68, 126, 141, "Carissime N" (100, 155), "tuus per fas et nefas" (yours through weal and woe, 20), "Good by Yours ever affectly RHF" (126), and in reply: "Ricarde Frater" (102), "Adelphotate" (most brotherly, 153), "Valeas mihi, carum caput, Tui amantissimuo JHN." (Be well for me, dear head, for Your most loving JHN, 155), "Ever Yrs, dulcissime rerum" (ever yours, sweetest of things, 126).
N was "widowed" by F's death: "When I took leave of him his face lighted up in the and almost shone in the darkness, as if to say that in this world we were parting forever" (Trevor, I 180): "Everything was so bright and beautiful about hims that to think of him must always be a comfort"; "It is a loss such as I can never have again... I feel the longer I live, the more I shall miss him" (182).
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 5:25 am | #
On Newman's physical distaste for women, the following is surely suggestive: Charles, the protagonist of N's novel, sees "a young clergyman, with a very pretty girl on her arm, whom her dress pronounced to be a bride. Love was in their eyes, joy in their voice, and affluence in their gait and bearing. Charles had a faintish feeling come over him; somewhat such as might beset a man on hearing a call for pork-chops while he was sea-sick" (Loss and Gain, Pt. III ch. 2). As David Nicholls remarks, "the unforgettable thought is, of course, the thought or rather the SMELL, when one is suffering from sea-sickness, of pork chops: succulent, greasy, nauseatingly glutinous. This is how married love, or anyway a clergyman's marriage, feels to the hero of Loss and Gain". This "surely betrays a deeply unsatisfactory conception of priestly celibacy... Newman, as author, seems to invite us to accept his hero's attitude as perfectly normal", in D. Nicholls and F. Kerr, eds, John Henry Newman: Reason, Rhetoric and Romanticism (Bristol Press, 1991).
Joe O'Leary | 06.10.05 - 5:34 am | #
What color is the sky in your world, Joe?
St. Polycarp | 06.10.05 - 9:23 am | #
I'm glad that we have established that sometimes a hug is just a hug.
Did I misread you? You said that you and I agree that His Holiness is among the most liberal popes ever. How do we agree on this point. Isn't he the one who accomplished the brain drain you've been lamenting?
About the various scholars you mention: thank you for correcting my error in spelling Loisy; do you mean Garigou-Lagrange (here again, I'm not sure I'm spelling it perfectly); Karl Rahner proves a point I have been trying to make for years.
Msgr Gamber, Father Bouyer, Dr. Von Hildebrand, Father Ratzinger and several others would have been counted "liberals" at the time of the Council, but you seem to forget that this bunch was horrified when it saw the "reforms" of the consilium. Meanwhile, the Fathers Rahner, Father Curran and others seem intent on saying that the Holy Father has stunted the growth of Vatican II by refusing to go far enough. Even Pope Benedict XVI quotes Father Karl Rahner and Cardinal Kasper when each has something valid to say, but he recognizes that neither one speaks for the Church.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.10.05 - 9:58 am | #
One curiosity about church teaching on homosexuality is that its defenders sometimes adopt a "social construction" attitude to homosexuality or insist on the variability of human sexuality and the possibility of changing homosexuals into heterosexuals; and sometimes go for the "essentialist" view that a person either is or is not homosexual and that this can be determined by objective tests (I rather tend to this view myself, which puts me at odds with most "Queer Theory") -- these tests are to be inflicted on innocent, sexually inexperienced teenagers, candidates for entry into the seminary, in order to determine their sexuality, as by litmus paper. One cannot help wondering how Newman and Froude would have fared faced with such a test! Clearly, very clearly, the Church needs a wide and open discussion and consultation about homosexuality, in all its natural and human dimensions. Declaring premature Kulturkampfs on this issue is profoundly destructive. But on this topic the depth of hypocrisy is unfathomable.
Joe O'Leary | 06.11.05 - 4:39 am | #
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 06.13.05 - 4:45 pm | #
I am very curious to see if the Vatican will actually call for weeding out candidates with homosexual inclinations at entry level. I wonder how many Catholic parents will accept such treatment of their sons. I recall again that 50 percent of the males in Kinsey's sample had had feelings of same-sex attraction, and that 37 percent even had orgasm in same-sex contact. How do you weed out such widely distributed psychosexual feelings?
Joe O'Leary | 06.15.05 - 2:33 am | #
Spoke with an American colleague today, and she opined that pedophile or ephebophile feelings a la Jackson or Socrates are a dicy area, but that the witchhunt is wildly exaggerated and that the nutty Camille Paglia has a point when she says Socratic love is essential to our Western civilization. Of course the radically homophobic rhetoric of Ratzinger and those who sing eagerly from his hymnsheet is exploiting the anti-pedophile frenzy for all it is worth, while warding off the questions that clerical abuse of minors and its concealment might raise about church clerical culture. Both I and my colleague agree that sex with minors is wrong, but also that wrong things need not be treated as the End of the World or used as a reason to demonize sex and affectivity.
Joe O'Leary | 06.15.05 - 9:56 am | #