Archive for the ‘Gay Jesus’ Category
London – 8 September 2008
“The Vatican is panicked that allegations about Cardinal Newman’s sexual orientation may derail its plans to make him a saint”, said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay rights group OutRage!
“The Pope’s spin doctors have gone into over-drive to denounce claims that Newman was gay and to justify his exhumation and reburial. This reburial is contrary to Newman’s instructions to his executors. He wanted to be buried with the man he loved and with whom he lived for much of his life, Father Ambrose St John.
“Following news stories suggesting that Cardinal Newman might have been gay, the Pope ordered Archbishop Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood, to go on the offensive and issue a stern rebuttal.
“Archbishop Amato asked Father Ian Ker, an Oxford theologian and Newman biographer, to assert the Cardinal’s heterosexuality, which he did in an article published on 2 September in the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
“Although he denounced suggestions that Newman could have been gay as “quite horrendous” and “absolute rubbish”, Ker offered no evidence of the Cardinal’s heterosexuality, only speculation and conjecture.
“Why are Ker and the Vatican being so defensive? After all, in a major theological document authored two decades ago by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict), The Vatican conceded that having a gay orientation is not a sin. Why, then, does the Catholic Church apparently have such a big problem admitting that Newman might have been gay by orientation?
“Ker claims that the Newman-St John relationship was typical of the “loving friendship” between two heterosexual men that often occurred in the nineteenth century.
“But many of these platonic relationships were, in fact, expressions of latent homosexuality which never found physical expression because the men concerned lived in a homophobic culture where they either had no conception of the possibility of same-sex love or, for religious reasons, dared not express this love sexually.
“Ker’s article is full of bald assertions that Newman was heterosexual, but it offers no proof or evidence. It dismisses the possibility that the Cardinal could have had a relationship with St John and even condemns the plausible suggestion that he might have been gay and celibate.
“How can the Vatican be so sure? Were its spies in Newman’s bedroom every night of his life?
“The history of the Catholic Church is littered with popes, cardinals, bishops and priests who were secretly gay.
“Down the ages, lots of clergy have had gay relationships. Indeed, about one-quarter of the current Catholic priesthood is estimated to be gay. Why should anyone be surprised by the suggestion that Cardinal Newman might have had a same-sex relationship? It would not be extraordinary. It is fairly normal in the priesthood.
“It is impossible to know whether the relationship between Newman and St John involved sexual relations. Equally, it is impossible to know that it did not. That is why the Vatican’s and Father Ker’s denials lack credibility. They claim to know something that is unknowable.
“Why should we believe The Vatican? It has a sad history of dishonesty and suppressing the truth. It lied, for example, in its anti-safe sex propaganda which claimed that condoms have tiny holes through which the HIV virus can pass. The church’s lies, promoted by the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, were exposed in a BBC Panorama programme, Sex and the Holy City, broadcast in 2003.
The denials about Newman’s sexuality should be treated with the same contempt. Even if the Vatican knew he was gay, it would never admit it. The Pope would deny the truth to suit the Vatican’s homophobic agenda.
“Although we cannot know for certain, it is not unreasonable to believe that Cardinal Newman could have had a loving, long-term same-sex relationship with the man whose grave he shares. The passion of his letters and writings about Father Ambrose suggest this possibility.
“There is little doubt that Newman and St John were mentally and spiritually in love; sharing a deep bond and intense relationship. They were inseparable; living together for over 30 years, like a married husband and wife.
“The Christian historian Alan Bray has done major research on the relationship between Newman and St John, sifting through the Cardinal’s diary, letters and notes. His findings are published in his book, The Friend (2003): http://tinyurl.com/6qq5nb
“They include the following admission that Newman wrote in his diary about Ambrose’s love for him: “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” He later added: “As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last…he was my earthly light.'”
“Newman stated that St John was “fair and Saxon-looking, my Angel Guardian,” who, he said, had come to him as Ruth came to Naomi and as the angel Raphael came to Tobias.
“Reflecting on St John’s death in 1875, Newman compared their love to that of a married couple: “I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone’s sorrow can be greater than mine…This is the greatest affliction I have had in my life.”
“While we need to be careful about making stereotyped assumptions, it is true to say that the Cardinal was not exactly macho. In his portraits, he looks quite camp. His soft, gentle, effeminate demeanour is typical of what we often associate with some gay men (and, to a lesser extent, some straight men too). There were allegations during his lifetime about his circle of young homosexual friends. Close relations with women did not feature at all in his life.
“To be fair and to err on the side of caution, given both men’s rather orthodox religious beliefs, they probably did not have a sexual relationship. It is likely that they had a gay orientation but chose to abstain from sex. Sexual abstinence does not, however, alter a person’s orientation. A person can be gay and sublimate their gayness into spiritual and artistic pursuits, and into strong, intense platonic same-sex relationships, which is probably what Newman and St John did,” said Mr Tatchell.
For further information, see my 4 September Guardian website article:
Violating Cardinal Newman’s wishes:
Bigoted clerics stir up anti-gay witch-hunts in Africa
London – 2 July 2008
“This breakaway Anglican faction is fundamentalist, homophobic and sexist. It opposes equal rights for women and gay people, and is allied with hardline church leaders whose bigoted teachings are fuelling anti-gay witch-hunts in many countries.”
The condemnation comes from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who yesterday (1 July) picketed a meeting at All Soul’s Church in London of the newly-formed Anglican fundamentalist sect, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA). Mr Tatchell was joined by his OutRage! African colleague Brett Lock and gay Christian and Ugandan gay rights activist, Kizza Musinguzi.
When they tried to enter the church, they were violently ejected. Mr Tatchell was punched in the chest by a church steward.
Photos of the protest are here:
“Archbishop Peter Akinola is backing the state-sponsored persecution of lesbians and gays in Nigeria. He is orchestrating a wicked victimisation campaign against the Nigerian gay Christian leader, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria,” added Mr Tatchell.
“The Archisbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, has stirred up prejudice against gay Ugandans in a society where anti-gay hatred and violence is rife. In 2006, he excommunicated a heterosexual bishop, Christopher Senyonjo, because he defended gay people against persecution.
“Jesus Christ is recorded in The Bible as condemning many sins but he never once condemned homosexuality. The anti-gay campaign of the breakaway Anglican leaders is a perversion of Christ’s gospel of love and compassion. These splitters are Old Testament fundamentalists, not true followers of Jesus Christ,” concluded Mr Tatchell.
Kizza Musinguzi is a gay member of the Anglican Church of Uganda. He has witnessed first hand the homophobic campaign by his church leaders. Mr Musinguzi was jailed and tortured in Uganda because of his gay rights activism. He is currently seeking asylum in the UK.
“The church is supposed to be all-loving. It is not acceptable that it has one set of rights for straight Christians and a lesser set of rights for gay Christians,” said Mr Musinguzi.
“When Archbishop Orombi takes a stand against gay people, he signals to the population that it is okay to discriminate against gay people. He supports Uganda’s vicious anti-gay laws, which stipulate life imprisonment for consenting same-sex relationships. Orombi is encouraging prejudice and hatred. His victimisation of Bishop Senyonjo is cruel and vindictive.
“Gay people in Uganda face imprisonment, torture and mob violence. Many are driven out their communities and left destitute. The government excludes gay people from its HIV programmes, leaving them to die without medication. The Church of Uganda is exacerbating this homophobia, neglect and persecution,” said Mr Musinguzi.
The Westboro Baptist Church has declared its intention to protest at the funeral of actor Heath Ledger, who died yesterday. The statement from the church is reproduced below.
28-year-old Ledger was best-known for his Oscar-nominated performance in gay-themed cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain.
The Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, has generated publicity by protesting at the funerals of US service personnel killed in action.
They first came to prominence for picketing the funeral of murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard in 1998.
In a statement released today Mr Phelps announced his intention to picket Mr Ledger’s funeral and said:
“Heath Ledger thought it was great fun defying God Almighty and his plain word; to wit: God Hates Fags! & Fag Enablers!
“Ergo, God hates the sordid tacky, bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as Brokeback Mountain – and He hates all persons having anything whatsoever to do with it.
“Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there – beside which, nothingelse about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.”
It is as yet unknown if Mr Ledger will be laid to rest in his native Australia or in America.
While US laws regarding freedom of speech and assembly protects the Phelps’ and the tiny Westboro Baptist Church in their home country, it is unlikely that the Australian authorities would find their tactics acceptable.
Today Australia’s Prime Minister paid tribute to Mr Ledger:
“It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation’s finest actors in the prime of his life,” he said.
“Heath Ledger’s diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the great performances by an Australian actor.”
Australian actors Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman also expressed their shock at the loss of such a considerable talent.
I had such great hope for him,” said Gibson, who cast Heath Ledger in The Patriot, said.
“He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
The Westboro Baptist church operates a website called GodHatesFags and have protested at over 100 funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
Their campaign, called “Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices” involves protesters holding up signs and chanting slogans such as “God Hates Fags,” “America is Doomed” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” at the widows of the servicemen.
“Corpus Christi”, a play that depicts Jesus as gay, is set to open in Australia at Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival in early February. There has been predictable outrage expressed in the media. The Anglican Bishop of Sydney, Robert Forsyth, described the play as “deliberately offensive” and “historical nonsense”.
The play portrays Jesus and the disciples as gay men.
Terence McNally, who wrote the acclaimed play, created a gay Jesus partly as a way of exploring the feelings of rejection and persecution he experienced as a gay youth growing up in Texas. When the play opened in the UK in 1999 in addition to taking harsh criticism from conservative Christians, McNally became the target of a fatwa issued by an Islamic group.
Assuming an historical Jesus existed, why is it considered outrageous by some to speculate that he may not have been heterosexual in orientation? In the Bible mention of homosexuality is rare, in part because it was considered taboo in the context of Jewish customs. Being homosexual in a patriarchal and homophobic culture of that time would tend to push you to the fringes. Jesus was certainly far out on the fringes. He was an outsider – in his own words “despised and rejected”.
Nor was Jesus even remotely respectable. The Pharisees accused him of being a drunkard and partying with “sinners”. So clearly there was an aspect of his behavior that flew in the face of conventional conduct.
There is no record of Jesus engaging in any sexual relations with women. He remained unmarried. However we do know that he spent most of his time in the company of men. There are passages in the New Testament that indicate he had a special love for one particular disciple.
While it is true that the culture of his day tended to be much more demonstrative in terms of gestures of physical affection between males, than exists for example in contemporary American culture – nonetheless the following verse from John 21:20 suggests an unusually intimate connection between the two men :
“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?”
The Greek term used to describe the love Jesus had for this disciple is “agape”.