Some ammunition in defense of Ven. John Henry Newman

The cause for beatification of Venerable John Henry Newman, the convert, Cardinal, and theologian is going apace.

From time to time you may have read some revisionist theory from a self-interested writer absurdly suggesting that Newman was homosexual.  

Rubbish.

A friend of mine, Fr. Ian Ker, is probably the world’s greatest scholar of Newman.  He has written the definitive biography.

Since the cause for Newman’s beatification seems to be moving along, I want to share this article from The Catholic Herald, the UK’s best Catholic weekly.   You may need ammunition if this subject comes up in conversation.

My emphases and comments.

Biographer challenges Newman revisionists
By Simon Caldwell

29 May 2009

Claims that Cardinal John Henry Newman was a closet homosexual have been debunked in a new version of the definitive biography of him.

Fr Ian Ker, author of John Henry Newman, used private letters and diaries to show that the Victorian convert and theologian was a heterosexual.

He said the cardinal’s wish to be buried in the grave of his friend, Fr Ambrose St John, meant it was "inevitable" there would be speculation about his sexuality in an age that has "lost the concept of affectionate friendship untouched by sexual attraction".  [Exactly!  A friend of mine years ago opined that in many cases homosexual relationship were "friendship gone very very wrong".   It is more complicated than that, but it is a possible starting point in some cases.]

But a diary entry of December 1816, when Newman was a 15-year-old Anglican, showed he was worried that dances and parties with girls would be a sexual temptation for him. As an adult Newman later wrote about the deep pain of the "sacrifice" of the life of celibacy to which he felt he had been called. "A modern reader should not need to be reminded that in 19th-century England homosexuality was illegal and generally considered to be immoral," wrote Fr Ker. "The only ‘sacrifice’ that Newman could possibly be referring to was that of marriage," he said. "And he readily acknowledges that from time to time he continued to feel the natural attraction for marriage that any heterosexual man would feel."

Fr Ker wrote that in the Victorian period there was nothing unusual in friends sharing the same graves. "Newman would scarcely have left such an instruction had he even dreamed that it could ever be interpreted as having any significance beyond the significance which he attached to it – nor would the oratory or the Church authorities have ever permitted a joint burial if they had the slightest suspicion about what must have seemed to them a totally innocent, not to say praiseworthy gesture," he said.  [This is pretty compelling.  It cuts through the rubbish with the axe of commonsense.  Some people (usually progressivists or others who deviate from the obvious) constantly ask you, require you, even threaten you into denying the evidence of your senses or deny commonsense itself.]

"Newman had plenty of critics, not to say enemies, in his time; yet not one of them, not one newspaper, not one casual observer, even dreamed of reading a significance into an act of loving friendship, and indeed humility, such as was left to the 20th century to read into it."

Fr Ker said he always knew that such speculation was "baseless" but acknowledged he might have been "wrong in not specifically dealing with it" in earlier editions of his 1988 book. Claims that Newman had homosexual inclinations first emerged in Geoffrey Faber’s 1933 Freudian psychobiography Oxford Apostles. Newman’s Autobiographical Writings, published in 1957, provided evidence to disprove them.

Cardinal Newman retained most of his friends throughout his life and his friendship with Fr St John lasted 30 years[Sometime I wonder if some denizens of the 21st century aren’t embarassed and disturbed by goodness.  They seek to distort it or mar it when they find it.  For example, think of the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, which simply had to mar the nobility of Aragorn or Faramir in certain ways.  It is as if the screenwriters simply couldn’t cope with clarity and nobility.  But I digress…]

He felt partly to blame for Fr St John’s death in 1875 because he had asked him to translate a book on papal infallibility by the Austrian theologian Joseph Fessler, a work which left the priest exhausted.

Newman later wrote: "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one’s sorrow greater, than mine." He stated on three occasions his desire to be buried with his friend and shortly before his own death in 1890, aged 89, he wrote: "I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John’s grave – and I give this as my last, my imperative will … this I confirm and insist on."

Gay rights activists have argued that such words indicated that Newman was a closet homosexual[PIFFLE]

Last year they opposed the exhumation and transfer of his body to the Birmingham Oratory ahead of his likely beatification, saying that it was wrong to separate the cardinal from "the man he loved".

The dispute petered out after the undertakers who opened the grave at a secluded cemetery in Rednal, Worcestershire, last October found the body had totally disintegrated.

Some ammunition in defense of Ven. John Henry Newman
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60 Responses to Some ammunition in defense of Ven. John Henry Newman

  1. For example, think of the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, which simply had to mar the nobility of Aragorn or Faramir in certain ways. It is as if the screenwriters simply couldn’t cope with clarity and nobility. But I digress…

    I’d like to carry that digression a little bit. The distortion of characters was one of my biggest complaints about those movies (besides the highly unnecessary plot changes): the sleazification of Aragorn and Faramir, the near-cowardice of the Rohirrim, and the transformation of Gimli into a buffoon. These are manifestations of this idea currently prevalent in the arts that truth is not beauty, but sleaze and squalor and wretchedness.

    I think the same idea is prevalent among many historians and biographers; and that is why so many of them are so keen to look for faults and pathologies, particularly in those of saintly reputations. They would like to make hypocrites out of saints, because that is much easier and more soothing to their consciences than trying to imitate them.

  2. TerryN says:

    Thanks for posting this Father – your post carries much more weight and credibility than those I’ve posted on the same topic. Gay activists love to twist the truth and the words of others to fit their agenda, it is as if they cannot see or understand anything or anyone except through the lens of their disordered sexuality. I believe it is safe to say that when the cause for beatification/canonization was opened, in those days if there had been the slightest question regarding this issue, the process could never have gone forward.

  3. Fidelius says:

    The impulse to sexualize everything is probably related to what psychologists call “boundary issues.” Once people diverge radically from the norm, they immediately try to re-create the world as ‘divergent’ so as to re-achieve a sense of equilibrium.

    It’s inconceivable that a long-standing male friendship (in the Victorian age, no less), the loss of which produced great grief, could be “normal.”

    It must be sexual.

    Do these people know how ridiculous they sound?

  4. Maureen says:

    Re: Faramir, Aragorn, Rohirrim, et al

    Well, the only reason somebody would have a conflict with a protagonist these days is if that somebody is being bad, right? You never have the good guys fighting with the good guys, even verbally, over what is the smarter plan or the more important good thing to do at the moment. But then, you can’t possibly let a world-class actor play out the transformation from despair to hope using his own acting powers, either. (And if you’ve ever seen Barrymore do his thing in transformation scenes, you can see how amazing an actor can be if given the chance.)

    Re: Newman’s body

    Providence is amazingly providential about this stuff. :)

  5. EDG says:

    In her biography of St Augustine, Rebecca West wrote something to the effect that one of the negative effects of homosexuality was that it placed the “turmoil of passion” in the place reserved for the calmness and security of friendship. I don’t have her book here and I don’t remember the exact words.

    The modern world, based on its unacknowledged but thoroughly pervasive Freudianism, sexualizes any and all relationships. Anyone living after the time of Sigmund Freud cannot possibly understand the attitudes of people who lived prior to that time. Our view of life and all its relationships has been fundamentally corrupted.

  6. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    The unfortunate insinuations and even allegations regarding Newman’s sexuality are really a symptom of the sickness of our society.

    Men were able in those days to form most intense friendships, and they did.

    Sometimes, indeed very rarely, society’s presumption of the innocence of such intense relationships, indeed, society’s enthusiastic approval of them, was used to mask the occurrence of immorality.

    Sadly, the acceptance of certain depravities as the basis of a whole lifestyle-construct has made it far more difficult to understand such friendships as Newman was so fortunate to have.

    Basically, homosexuality is disordered precisely because it sexualizes friendship; as the disorder recognized less and less as such, it becomes harder to envision such friendships without a sexual component.

    Thus, when contemporary eyes view Newman’s friendship, they almost cannot but envision a sexual element, for they have become all but incapable of understanding the depths to which true friendship, especially real masculine friendship, can penetrate the souls of those who are blessed with it.

    If the process continues, it will be the undoing of our civilization.

  7. Virgil says:

    I think it is beautiful that Gay Catholics are beginning to adopt Newman as a patron saint! What a wonderful example of sanctity he is.

    The fact that some people have noticed Newman’s and StJohn’s kind affection [You are using a ephemism, now.] is no discredit to either of them. Everyone acknowledges that they were happy and holy as celibate, chaste priests.

    Gay folk are not trying to imply that Newman was sexually intimate.

    Why should anyone bother to waste the time trying to “refute” whether or not Newman’s thoughts were gay ones or strait ones? Would it make any difference to his sanctity?

    No.

    Let Blessed JHN add “Patron of Gay Catholics” to the many ways he intercedes for the Church. [You are perhaps trying to obfuscate the obvious point of the entry? Newman was heterosexual. The point was not about his chastity. It was about his heterosexuality.]

    John Henry Newman, through your earnest prayers and those of your companion Ambrose StJohn, help all gay men to grow in holiness, to welcome grace in their lives, and to be love and help to one another in life, in trial, and in death. Amen.

  8. Ohio Annie says:

    How many times have we heard modern revisionists go on and on about the friendship of David and Jonathan in the same vein? Modern people truly sexualize everything. It isn’t even possible any more to make a joke without somebody trying to turn it into something vulgar and low.

    Friendship has certainly taken a beating in our society.

  9. JohnD says:

    I am doubtful that homosexuality sexualizes friendship. From what I have observed in the culture, a healthy amount of self-loathing is inherent in the disorder, and therefore projected upon fellow travelers down that road. Witness the accentuated levity, which counters the inner wretchedness; and the vicious nature of the partner disagreements, the rampant unfaithfulness and short lived ‘life partner’ situations. Do unto others…Friends wouldn’t treat friends like that. It seems more like self-haters with one thing in common: their pathology.

  10. Michael J says:

    Virgil,

    This was discussed at length on a different thread, but I still do not understand. Basically, why should anyone *want* to keep their homosexual inclinations?

    In the prayer you composed, why didn’t you say:

    “help all gay men to grow in holiness, to welcome grace in their lives, and to be love and help to one another in life, in trial, and in death *and overcome their homosexuality so that they stop being gay men*”.

  11. Aaron Magnan says:

    Well, luckyily the secular world is not the magisterium.

    I mean, after having failed at convincing us that the beloved disciple was Mary Magdalene, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone suggest Jesus “loved” a male disciple as a homosexual as well.

    Some of them *do* hate the Good. They persecute the righteous. It’s like a theological lion’s den in a 2nd century Roman mentality.

  12. ejk says:

    One of my earliest encounters with Christ, was His showing me clearly the relationship between himself and Mary Madgdalene, which Hollywood (and the world) also like to sexualize. A true, and real friendship. The world can and will never understand such things without the filter of Christ…and it is so very sad. What a shallow existence man leads to continually conform (distort) things/man into our own image, warped ways – etc…

  13. Lee says:

    “He who touches pitch blackens his hand.” Ever and again I have found this true regarding the miserable topic of homosexuality. Virgil’s post is a perfect instance of it.

    Were Catholics who practice homosexuality ( To say “Gay Catholics” is to acquiese in a decades long campaign on the part of those who practice homosexuality to cloak their sin in euphemism) to adopt Cdl Newman as their patron saint, no happier result could hoped than that they repent of their miserable “lifestyle” and rejoin the human race, which they evidently hate.

    “Gay folk” as Virgil pleasantly refers to them have been the primary vector of a disease that has killed and is killing hundreds of millions of people. They are responsible for a scandal that has ruined many lives, driven many people from the Church, kept others from entering, and financially ruined many dioceses. Through their predominance in the entertainment idustry they are in the forefront of corrupting the morals of Western Civilization. They are making an all out attack on the institution of marriage, and therefore on civilization, because the family (one man, one woman, children- let us try to keep this ancient recipe in mind in the face of the neverending “gay” propaganda) is its fundamental unit.

    Yes I am aware of the distinction between homosexual tendencies and homosexual activity, a nice distinction that makes possible the appearance in the upcoming “Gay Pride” parade here in Portland of at least three parishes- which is a further scandal chargeable to the homosexual account. It is a distinction which has given us the reputation of having a “gay” priesthood. Yes, I know it is a distinction- very harmful in its effects- found in the Catholic Catechism and in various episcopal documents.

    Non credo! Could someone tell me what level of certainty this teaching has, when it first appeared? What scriptures and fathers of the Church can be brought in support of it, what obligation we have to accept it and build policy around it? This teaching is a disaster that has tied our tongues, clouded our discernment and made us the laughingstock of our enemies.

    In fact, since when in Catholic parlance is there a distinction between homosexual and heterosexual *persons*? “Male and female He created them,” says Scripture.

    Or, as an advertisement for a room in Craig’s List put it, “We gladly accept those who are either male OR female, not both.”

    We should be so smart.

    Of course, we all understand and sympathize with those who are struggling with sin. However, acquiescing in euphemistic language and indulging claims to a unique category of personhood helps no one. Their are plenty of remedies for sin, but for self-delusion only truth will serve.

    Cardinal Newman, pray for us.

  14. Joyce says:

    At this point what difference does Newman’s sexuality make? He may have been straight, or gay, or a latent gay. His holiness is what qualifies him for sainthood. A recent study indicated that a majority of the clergy were at least latent homosexuals. As a deacon in a neighboring church said to a mutual friend “some of the finest priests in our diocese are gay.”

  15. Mark says:

    I have to agree with the “what difference does it make” sentiment. We know he was celibate and chaste. What his particular temptations were…is a rather prurient curiosity, and hardly “proveable” either way from scraps of writings or ambiguous actions.

    Saying that celibacy would be a sacrifice or that he feared a dance might be tempting doesnt really prove heterosexuality (many homosexual men have wives and children!), but neither do his actions with Ambrose St John or alleged femininity prove homosexuality.

    The fact is, Victorian England was an odd place, sexually. I’m not really sure we alive today can analyze it with our current schemas and sensibilities. For one, because the social construction of “sexual orientation” had not yet developed.

    I will say, however, it is well known that aristocratic university men had all sorts of weird dynamics going on. Some acted on it, some didnt, but it was a pervasive millieu in the upper eschelons of society, even while they all married women. But we know that Victorian educated society had strong homoerotic undercurrents.

    It was an age traumatic to children and to sexuality. But Newman was chaste, we know that, so trying to get inside his psycho-sexual situation…is pointless. He may well have been a sublimated “homosexual” or had sublimated feelings of the type. If they were sublimated, there shouldnt be much evidence either way!

    Strictly speaking, Newman was neither homosexual nor heterosexual as both are social constructs that had yet to be developed. What stimuli specifically aroused lust in him…is a prurient interest, and likely wouldnt fit into our categories anyway given the more fluid way sexuality worked in the past; “sexual identity” was Male or Female, and it was assumed anyone might fall prey to natural or unnatural temptations.

    But we know he was chaste, and that he supported male-female coupling as the natural model. Anything else is beyond what we can say or should say.

  16. Ohio Annie says:

    What Mark says makes sense. And Lee, regardless of what else they are, homosexuals are already member of humanity.

  17. Michael J says:

    What difference does it make? Does the truth matter so little? Many have made a claim about the man, and there are those who really do not care if it is true or not. Its mind boggling

  18. Girgadis says:

    With regard to the comment that a study indicated that the majority of clergy
    were latent homosexual [B as in B. S as in S. And this is not relevant to this entry.] I would note the following: when men or women live
    celibate, solitary lives, they can take on characteristics of the opposite sex.
    This is often misconstrued as a “tendency” when in fact I think it’s self-sufficiency.. Also,without the benefit of a human spouse, friendships undoubtedly become more important with perhaps more’intense emotional attachments than those that married people maintain. As you
    pointed out Father, tbere are those so disturbed or perplexed by goodness that
    they feel compelled to assign it some perverse value. How unfortunate that some
    people are so desperate to justify their own sordid lifestyle that they have to
    cast aspersions on a man who isn’t here to defend himself.

  19. Mark says:

    No, it’s not “mind boggling,” Michael J. The point is, it wouldnt make a difference when it came to his sanctity. And as for the truth-value of the claim…it is quite indeterminable at this point. Attempts to fight it are a form of “feeding the trolls” as it were. It’s a silly conversation to even be having. We shouldnt dignify such claims with a response, true or not. There are some things that are really none of our business.

  20. Steve says:

    I’m always suspicious of those who choose to use the term ‘gay’ when referencing homosexuality. There’s nothing ‘gay’ about homosexuality.

  21. Girgadis says:

    “I think “a majority” is a little exaggerated!”

    I agree, but I was simply referring to a comment previous to mine.

  22. Mark says:

    It depends how they are using it, Steve.

    If they use it to refer to the phenomenon of homosexuality, in general, I agree, that should not be done.

    But if they use it to identify the socio-political identity and agenda known as “gay”…that is accurate. “Gay” is a subculture, a constructed identity-label, that claims it represents the interests of all homosexuals and to foment a group identity based on “sexual orientation” (itself a construct).

    Sloppily using the word “gay” to mean homosexuality in general is one of the tactics that agenda uses to obfuscate.

    For example, in several political debates over the past years, the moderator will ask something like, “Do you believe people are born gay, or is it a choice?”

    There are just SO MANY problems with that question. First, when they say “gay” do they mean the identity “gay, GLBT, queer, etc”…or are they talking simply about the feelings? Second, it’s creating a false dichotomy between “born” and “choice”…when really subjective environmental/psychological/emotional factors could play a large role in a complex causation. Third, it seems to imply that if it is chosen it is bad, but if it is inborn it is good. When, really, if you truly believe it is good…then it would be good even if chosen, a good choice. And if you truly believe it is disordered, it shouldnt really matter whether it is a “psychological” disorder or a biological disorder. Finally, it seems to turn an objective scientific question about the origin of homosexual attractions into a political question (and thus inevitably biased either way) with all sorts of implications for policies and attitudes towards external manifestations of those feelings, even though urges do not imply a right to act on them or a need to identify with them.

    But, of course, the conservative candidate can’t say all that in a sound-bite. So he loses automatically. It’s a trap. We must be on guard against such linguistic manipulation.

  23. Mark says:

    “Whether Ven. Newman was a homosexual or not is as irrelevant as the fact that Pope John Paul II was secretly in love with Dr. Wanda Poltawska.”

    If both men were chaste in word and deed, then yes, both questions are irrelevant.

  24. squirrel says:

    Is it possible that any of the canonized saints struggled with same sex attraction?

  25. How are a man’s temptations irrelevant to whether he practiced heroic virtue?

  26. EDG says:

    John D – I think that you’re overlooking the fact that we have a newly defined category of “gay” now. “Gay” doesn’t mean that the person develops crushes on people of the same sex; it means that he has an entirely different conception of himself and an entirely different way of living.

    This, IMHO, is why you cannot possibly have a “gay” Catholic. It’s either one or the other.

    As for Newman, he had a very close friend before the times that all relationships were interpreted as sexual.

  27. Mark says:

    “How are a man’s temptations irrelevant to whether he practiced heroic virtue?”

    In this case because we know he was a chaste celibate, and beyond that the particulars dont add much to the question. He wasnt married, so what type of sex-outside-marriage he was specifically refraining from…seems a prurient curiosity. Both would have been wrong, and he refrained from both.

  28. Mark says:

    “As for Newman, he had a very close friend before the times that all relationships were interpreted as sexual.”

    I think you mean before all relationships were interpreted as genital. We are sexual beings, all relationships ARE “sexual”…they’re just not all genital.

    As the Catechism says:
    “2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.”

    Whether we are relating to the same sex or the opposite sex, we all relate AS men or AS women. There is no relationship just between “humans”. A relationship is always between men AS men and women AS women. Sexuality colors and effects all affectivity, whether that be familial, friendship, genital, or whatever other types of social or relational categories or modes humanity will think up.

  29. Anthony in TX says:

    I think Fr. Bob has mistakenly posted this insightful comment in another entry:

    Two people being buried in the same grave is a common practice in England. For readers outside of the UK this may sometimes seems strange but graves there are often deep enough to take two or more coffins. I have witnessed the burial of a lady who had no relatives but requested that she be buried in a grave four caskets deep so that any poor person who didnt have the funds could be buried on top of her. She knew they wouldnt be relatives or necessarily even friends in this life but recognized that the reverent burial of the dead is an important work of mercy. I was very glad that the grave didnt cave in as it was very deep!

    Comment by Fr Bob — 4 June 2009 @ 10:52 am

  30. Dear all,

    Cardinal Newman was not homosexual. Punto e basta, as they say in my neck of the woods (that’s the end of it)!

    I tried to articulate the point in more gentle terms, but apparently my experiment failed.

    So, I’ll be more blunt: the Servant of God, John Henry, Cardinal Newman, was an heterosexual male of the species who lived a life of heroic virtues.

    The evidence against this thesis is at best tendentious, and at worst, blatantly false.

    C.

  31. Scott W. says:

    It is very important that we hold that Ven. Newman had normal ordered desires. Why? Because good faith obligates it. That is, that is what we are obligated to hold it barring any REAL evidence to the contrary. All the revisionists have is hinky speculation that does not even rise to the level of salacious gossip. Do I really need to make a Christian case against gossip?

    Cave into the “Well, does it really matter?” nonsense and it will never end. The beatification process will be held hostage as the usual suspects scour every semi-colon of the candidate’s writing looking for any word that could be interpreted euphamistically. And if you remember junior-high school, anything can be interpreted that way. And junior-high is about the maturity level from this crowd.

  32. NewmanCause says:

    Readers of this post may be interested to know that the official website of the Cause for Cardinal Newman’s Canonisation is at http://www.newmancause.co.uk

  33. Girgadis says:

    Father, I certainly appreciate your outrage but I respectfully suggest
    that it’s a tad misdirected given that the offending remark was originally posted
    by someone else and I was merely trying to refute it, not agree with it in
    any way. I know nothing about such a study and the notion that one even
    exists is, as you put it, BS. Either way, I apologize.

  34. Mark says:

    “It is very important that we hold that Ven. Newman had normal ordered desires. Why? Because good faith obligates it. That is, that is what we are obligated to hold it barring any REAL evidence to the contrary. All the revisionists have is hinky speculation that does not even rise to the level of salacious gossip. Do I really need to make a Christian case against gossip?”

    Against gossip, I think all would agree. But the best way to fight gossip is to ignore it, not to try to refute it, especially when the issue is really indeterminable and everyone is trying to read more into things than are there. We werent inside Newman’s head, but we do know his works. There is no obligation to hold that Newman held any sort of desires except the desire to please God and do His will.

  35. Scott W. says:

    But the best way to fight gossip is to ignore it, not to try to refute it

    Depends on the circumstances. For instance, if a particular theory gains traction in serious public discourse, some response might be warranted even if it is only, “we regard this as nothing more than gossip, and will not spend anymore time on it.” I don’t think anyone can in good faith hold that he had some disordered desires and paper it over with, “but it doesn’t matter”.

  36. Thomas says:

    This tripe about “what does it matter if Newman was a homosexual as long as he was chaste” is a WEASEL’S argument.

    First you smear a man, and then you say attempts at his defense are irrelevant. If they’re irrelevant, then why in bloody hell did you smear him in the first place?

    I’ll tell you why it’s relevant. It’s a goddamned lie (as all lies are), and there’s nothing benign about hijacking a good man’s reputation for self-serving ends.

    Person A: “Hey, Mark’s a pedophile, but it’s okay, he never abused anyone.”

    Person B: “No, Mark is not a pedophile. He’s a good moral man and their is no evidence to support your claim.”

    Person A: “This conversation is irrelevant. I said he never abused anyone, didn’t I.”

    So bleeping absurd!

  37. Garrett says:

    The schismatic, Eastern Orthodox Saint Seraphim Rose was a homosexual who, having discovered the Eastern Orthodox faith, theretofore lived a life of great chastity and holiness, by all accounts.

  38. A homosexual scholar is also spreading the story that the Jesuit poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was received into the Church by Newman, was also homosexual.

    Speculating on the deviant inclinations of historical figures is apparently a hobby of psychotherapists, contemporary homosexual scholars, and those who play them on the internet.

  39. “Fr Ker wrote that in the Victorian period there was nothing unusual in friends sharing the same graves. “Newman would scarcely have left such an instruction had he even dreamed that it could ever be interpreted as having any significance beyond the significance which he attached to it – nor would the oratory or the Church authorities have ever permitted a joint burial if they had the slightest suspicion about what must have seemed to them a totally innocent, not to say praiseworthy gesture,” he said. [This is pretty compelling. It cuts through the rubbish with the axe of commonsense. Some people (usually progressivists or others who deviate from the obvious) constantly ask you, require you, even threaten you into denying the evidence of your senses or deny commonsense itself.]”

    Not surprising indeed since they do the same to Pope Pius XII. They throw accusations at you and shift the burden of proof. They skew history, destroy the reputation of a defenseless dead person and the anti-catholic bigotry continues.

  40. Ben says:

    I hate the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual.” Man and Woman He created them, and that’s that.

    Anyway…

    God forbid the possibility that Cardinal Newman suffered from same-sex attraction temptations and yet lead a (gasp) chaste life. I’m not into making everyone out to have SSA, but at the same time, who cares if he did? I’m sure he followed the Church’s teaching regarding it. If the claims did turn out to be true, his beatification would simply give a certain population of Catholics who suffer from SSA a saint to pray to. Too often devout, SSA Catholics remain silent because of dissenters who fly in the face of Church teaching on one end of the spectrum and “traditionalists” who say every man with SSA is a pedophile.

    Seems the Church has a saint for every specific temptation out there except SSA. Even devout Catholics with SSA can’t help but join in on such speculation to help cope with the loneliness even among the Communion of Saints.

  41. Mary Ann, Singing Mum says:

    Why does it matter about Newman? From a priest’s perspective, it matters a great deal. If I were a priest, I would not want everyone assuming that tons of priests struggle with SSA. That thinking is insulting to priests because it is insulting to their manhood. Priests sacrifice a great deal, and shouldn’t have to check their manhood at the door.

    Priests should also be able to have deep friendships without a ridiculous level of speculation. Regrettably, the innocent love of friendship has been diminished. To the extent that same sex *sexual* relationships have been accepted, and even promoted, authentic friendship between members of the same sex has really suffered.

    This entry on Newman demonstrates that in our ‘liberated’ society, real, innocent friendship is under increasing strain. It seems that men (and women) were more at liberty to be friends in Newman’s day.

  42. Veritas says:

    I would take issue with you regarding the definitive biography of Newman, in my view it is that written by Sheridan Gilley. However he too has little time for the Strachey nonsense, which began with “Eminent Victorians”, which mistook friendship for sexual predilection. However what if Newman or Hopkins were homosexual, does it matter at all provided they were chaste? Chaste homosexuals make very good priests, and no doubt we all know some such, even, or especially ,in traditionalists circles.

  43. avecrux says:

    I disagree completely with the contention that chaste homosexuals make good Priests. That is like saying a chaste homosexual can be a good husband and father. Things don’t work that way. Homosexuality is a disorder which is accompanied by serious psychological issues that need resolution and healing. Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons has been interviewed about this here: http://www.zenit.org/article-14748?l=english and here: http://www.zenit.org/article-14758?l=english You can find the Catholic Medical Association’s document on homosexuality, “Hope and Healing” here: http://www.cathmed.org/

  44. Irenaeus says:

    It has once been said that as faith is destroyed in a culture, superstition abounds.

    I believe that as true, authentic friendship is destroyed in a culture, as real, wholesome and ordinate relationships begin to die, the inordinate likewise abounds: homosexuality, divorce, abuse, etc.

    Many of the greatest saints have had extremely deep and affectionate relationships with individuals of the same and opposite sex. Think for instance of Augustine and Alypius, or Basil and Gregory, or St. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal. Hagiography abounds with holy relationships – spouses, friends, families. Grace building on nature sanctifies otherwise good relationships. Our knowledge of ecclesiology should inform us that the Church, and even mystical union, is relational; we with God, we with one another in Christ.

    The devil, the consummate deceiver and destroyer of human communities, has a vested interest in assuring that “hell is our neighbor” in the words of Sartre, thus destroying the path to communion in Christ. He does this first by destroying relationships between men and women, but also between women and women and men and men. If you strike at same sex relations, smearing them with hypersexual paranoia, you destroy all foundations for fraternity within the sexes. You also can destroy, by extension, the deep trust and mutual respect needed for a sane and edifying priestly fraternity.

    For instance, would men play a pick up game of basketball if they thought they were being felt up, or stared at in the locker room? Would women go to their common events if they thought their friends were “interested?” These normal, good and healthy ways of bonding, sometimes with great intimacy, from the most common to the most sacrosanct, are under threat by a hypersexualized culture which is further denigrated by the homosexual agenda – to destroy and critique, but mostly to ridicule, the normal. Woe to those who put light for darkness and darkness for light, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, as Isaiah said.

    May John Henry Newman and his friend in glory rest in peace and pray for us!

  45. Chcrix says:

    What all the imputations of homosexuality really show is how our society can’t see anything except through the lens of sex – and unsavory sex if at all possible.

    Another good example – and from the same period – is the non-existant “relationship” between Lewis Carroll and Alice – brought into existance entirely by the prurient interest of the 20th century and without a shred of evidence to support it.

    WRT LOTR: More than the character portraits the single most disturbing moment in the movies for me was at the council of Elrond when Frodo showed the ring and everyone lunged for it, while the book showed everyone hanging back, struck dumb by the horror of having to deal with it.

  46. Kimberly says:

    I agree Thomas!! Ruff way of saying it but doggoneit I also am tired of people using something to fit thier program. READ anything by Newman and you will NOT find a single thing to justify a homosexual agenda. The “being buried” with his friend is very typical of those times, simple as that and nothing more.

  47. irishgirl says:

    To continue Kimberly’s thought….don’t forget that England is an island, so there’s not a lot of room for places like graveyards. So sometimes there are more than one body in a single grave!

    I am so sick and tired of homosexual revisionists trying to ‘sexualize’ deep friendships between men. I’m thinking not only of Cardinal Newman and Fr. St. John, but also David and Jonathan in the Bible.

    What the heck is wrong with JUST BEING FRIENDS! [sorry for the bold print, Fr. Z-I’m not ‘shouting’]

    Arggh…

  48. Veritas says:

    Who could be more camp than Fr Faber? Yet he was chaste, an excellent missionary to Victorian society, a writer of excellent if somewhat sentimental hymns, and a builder of churches?

  49. Mantellone says:

    Veritas,

    Allow me to get on my I-have-a-Newman-exam-tomorrow high horse and suggest that the Ker is definitely the definitive biography. Gilley is good on the Anglican years, but peters out rather after 1845. The new Cambridge Companion is worth a read, if only for (I think) the last academic article written by the late Avery, Cardinal Dulles. Fr Ian Ker: priest, tutor, pastel-jumpered legend.

    An interesting, and I think largely unexplored, side issue in Newman’s work is his deep concern that Anglican clergy who submitted to Rome in the latter half of the nineteenth-century ought properly to be looked after and deployed. There were, in his thinking, hordes of thologically-educated, committed, fairly young but married men who were an asset which the Church just couldn’t work out how best to use. He was also decidedly uncertain about whether he thought he needed to be (re)ordained, but decided not to raise any questions as it would scarcely expedite the process he felt he was being called to see through.

    I suspect there are a good many who would feel great comfort at the intercession of one who had been through such experiences.

    JHN OPN

  50. Ben says:

    I am appalled by how many readers apparently hate people with same sex attraction. There are many more people who struggle with it than you think.

    Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone, then told the sinful woman to go and SIN NO MORE. Who are you to judge people who struggle with SSA seeking to lead holy lives in the heart and mind of the Church? It’s not good enough for you to simply say it’s sinful. We can all agree that SSA is disordered. But God forbid someone who struggled with SSA went to heaven!

    And seriously. We’re all Catholics. What is the deal with the made-up terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual”? Man and woman were made for each other sexually, and that’s that.

    In the Middle Ages, acting out SSA was seen as a grave sin that ANYONE was capable of falling into, like pride, greed, or gluttony. It wasn’t until people began to see those with SSA as a “third gender” that the concept of sexual orientation arose.

    Examine your own disorders before you condemn the concupiscence of others.

  51. Ben says:

    I am appalled by how many readers apparently hate people with same sex attraction. There are many more people who struggle with it than you think.

    Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone, then told the sinful woman to go and SIN NO MORE. Who are you to judge people who struggle with SSA seeking to lead holy lives in the heart and mind of the Church? It\’s not good enough for you to simply say it\’s sinful. We can all agree that SSA is disordered. But God forbid someone who struggled with SSA went to heaven!

    And seriously. We\’re all Catholics. What is the deal with the made-up terms \”homosexual\” and \”heterosexual\”? Man and woman were made for each other sexually, and that\’s that.

    In the Middle Ages, acting out SSA was seen as a grave sin that ANYONE was capable of falling into, like pride, greed, or gluttony. It wasn\’t until people began to see those with SSA as a \”third gender\” that the concept of sexual orientation arose.

    Examine your own disorders before you condemn the concupiscence of others.

  52. Thomas says:

    I’m appalled that you twist our defense of a man against baseless accusations into “hate speech.”

  53. Latekate says:

    “I am appalled by how many readers apparently hate people with same sex attraction. There are many more people who struggle with it than you think.”

    I have not seen any indication that anyone posting here “hates” homosexuals. I do see this accusation of “hate” as smearing, though.

    “Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone, then told the sinful woman to go and SIN NO MORE. Who are you to judge people who struggle with SSA seeking to lead holy lives in the heart and mind of the Church? It’s not good enough for you to simply say it’s sinful. We can all agree that SSA is disordered. But God forbid someone who struggled with SSA went to heaven!”

    Well, heck, then! How dare we judge ANYONE or anything??? And who are YOU to judge those who you think “hate” homosexuals?? Are they not struggling with sin??

    “And seriously. We’re all Catholics. What is the deal with the made-up terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual”? Man and woman were made for each other sexually, and that’s that.”

    And SSA isn’t a “made up term”??

    “In the Middle Ages, acting out SSA was seen as a grave sin that ANYONE was capable of falling into, like pride, greed, or gluttony. It wasn’t until people began to see those with SSA as a “third gender” that the concept of sexual orientation arose.”

    It wasn’t until “scientists” like Kinsey and change agents determined to undermine traditional religious mores and the family that people “began to see” homosexuality as a “third gender”. I will agree that with enough indoctrination people can be made to do almost anything. Past cultures have “normalized” homosexual behavior and we see it being done today. An interesting book is Havelock’s “Change Agents Guide to Education”. In it indoctrinators brag of being able to completely eradicate a students home taught morals and beliefs within hours using group dynamics and the Delphi process, public schoolkids are sitting ducks and guinea pigs. It is precisely BECAUSE of these Change agents that we need the Church today.

    “Examine your own disorders before you condemn the concupiscence of others.”

    So no “judging” allowed, is that it? It is somehow “unChristian” to judge some behavior as sinful because we all sin?? Then what is the point of God’s Law or even “Natural Law? After all, we have no right to judge any behavior as any better than any other because we all sin. Let’s all just indulge in homosexual activities then, after all, we’re all already sinners.

  54. Mark says:

    Latekate,

    Your response makes no sense given what you were responding to.

    Ben said nothing about indulging in homosexual activity or not judging the activity as against natural and divine law.

    All he said was that people who think it is for some reason important to establish that Newman was heterosexual instead of homosexual, even though he was celibate either way, are actually buying into homosexual exceptionalism. As if it is for some reason more special than other temptations or forms of concupiscence. It isnt.

    Murder is also a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, yet a passionate man with a murderous temper, yet who controlled it and sublimated it and never murdered anyone…we would not be discussing that this way, nor acting as if the accusation of mere presence of such a [latent] temper was an insult or scandalous, even though such a temper is clearly disordered.

    No, there is a particular paranoia about homosexuality that plays right into their agenda of establishing “sexual orientation” as a special trait.

  55. avecrux says:

    Mark, the word paranoia is inaccurate.
    I think you touch on part of the problem yourself when you use language like “Newman was heterosexual instead of homosexual” – yet you say “a passionate man with a murderous temper”. So a man HAS a temper – but a man IS homosexual or heterosexual?
    In the articles I pointed out above, Dr. Fitzgibbons unpacks the Congregation for Catholic Education’s document regarding homosexuality and discerning a vocation. He distinguishes between “a range of conditions, from deep-seated homosexual tendencies to transitory same-sex attractions”. Effeminacy is considered “a clear sign of serious affective immaturity” – and affective immaturity makes healthy, balanced self-giving unlikely in any vocation, whether it be Priesthood or marriage. It is interesting to note that Dr. Fitzgibbons states “Those with mild homosexual tendencies do not IDENTIFY THEMSELVES as homosexuals. Such men are motivated to understand and to overcome their emotional conflicts. They regularly seek psychotherapy and spiritual direction.”

  56. Latekate says:

    “Ben said nothing about indulging in homosexual activity or not judging the activity as against natural and divine law.”

    And that is not what I said. I said why bother with the Law if we were not supposed to discern between behaviors (judge).

    “All he said was that people who think it is for some reason important to establish that Newman was heterosexual instead of homosexual, even though he was celibate either way, are actually buying into homosexual exceptionalism. As if it is for some reason more special than other temptations or forms of concupiscence. It isnt.”

    Sorry, that is not what I see. And what you are saying is that it is wrong to respond to those who smear JHNewman in this way with evidence to the contrary because we all sin and homosexuality is an unexceptional sin so no big deal. When someone accuses a person not able to defend himself there is nothing wrong with defending the person. It is not “buying into exceptionalism”. To let the accusations stand when there is evidence to the contrary would be assisting in the smear.

    “Murder is also a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, yet a passionate man with a murderous temper, yet who controlled it and sublimated it and never murdered anyone…we would not be discussing that this way, nor acting as if the accusation of mere presence of such a [latent] temper was an insult or scandalous, even though such a temper is clearly disordered.”

    I disagree. Murder just hasn’t been mainstreamed and normalized yet…other than war and abortion…and those are very “hot topics” as well. So why not call Newman a murderer? All sins are fungible and we are all sinners, right? I don’t see any would be murderers here claiming that to object to murdering is murder-phobia, we still see it as wrong behavior…although at the rate things are going…

    “No, there is a particular paranoia about homosexuality that plays right into their agenda of establishing “sexual orientation” as a special trait.”

    “Particular paranoia”. Ah yes, the cousin of the “hater” smear, the “homophobe” smear. The idea that to object to the homosexual agenda (and claiming that prominent historical figures and heroes were acting homosexuals is part of that agenda of advancement) is de facto evidence of mental illness, of irrational “paranoia”. This is the homosexual equivalent of calling people “conspiracy theorists” to dispense with having to respond to reasonable arguments. It is name calling. This is the favorite smear of the homosexual promoter, continually shoved in our faces through the media. Don’t think homosexuality is cute, “cosmopolitan”, a lifestyle choice? Why, you must be sick, “homophobic”, of unsound mind to object to such “love”. It is the OBJECTOR to homosexuality who is disordered. I don’t see anyone establishing homosexuality as a “special trait”. As far as I can see MORE people need to be wary of the homosexual agenda and those who promote it…but you would call that “paranoia”.

    The smear tactics, propaganda and bullying by the homosexual promoters are what opened my eyes to their “exceptionalism”. They simply want their sin declared nonsinful and those who object to it made sinners.

  57. Mark says:

    “I think you touch on part of the problem yourself when you use language like “Newman was heterosexual instead of homosexual” – yet you say “a passionate man with a murderous temper”. So a man HAS a temper – but a man IS homosexual or heterosexual?”

    No, that’s my point. I am saying that we can’t buy into that agenda of “gay essentialism” which makes what is really just an accidental temptation like any other into some sort of foundational facet of identity. Sexuality is foundational to our identities under the modes Male or Female, not “heterosexual” and “homosexual”.

    So when I used language like that, you will notice it was in the context of paraphrasing others, who I oppose: “PEOPLE WHO THINK it is for some reason important to establish that Newman was heterosexual instead of homosexual”. I’m not one of those people, not least because I indeed dont really agree with identifying homosexual and heterosexual as states of being instead of something more like a temper.

    “He distinguishes between “a range of conditions, from deep-seated homosexual tendencies to transitory same-sex attractions”.”

    Which is what makes the misleading language of gay essentialism all the more ambiguous.

    “Effeminacy is considered “a clear sign of serious affective immaturity” – and affective immaturity makes healthy, balanced self-giving unlikely in any vocation, whether it be Priesthood or marriage.”

    I agree that flamboyantly effeminate priests are not a good idea. But, at the same time, we know there have been lots of Saints who were quite…eccentric…shall we say? Part of charisma is being a little bit mad.

    “It is interesting to note that Dr. Fitzgibbons states “Those with mild homosexual tendencies do not IDENTIFY THEMSELVES as homosexuals. Such men are motivated to understand and to overcome their emotional conflicts. They regularly seek psychotherapy and spiritual direction.””

    And I dont think even the smearers and rumor-mongers have claimed Newman identified as “a homosexual”. They say they think it likely he had latent or sublimated homosexual feelings in the Victorian context.

  58. Mark says:

    “And that is not what I said. I said why bother with the Law if we were not supposed to discern between behaviors (judge).”

    Yes, but that point is non sequiter to what you were replying to. None of us disagree with that, so you werent “refuting” anyone.

    “When someone accuses a person not able to defend himself there is nothing wrong with defending the person.”

    But that’s just it. As far as I know, no one has actually “accused” him of anything, assuming that an accusation must be of a chosen action or belief and not just an unchosen disposition.

    Yet people here are acting like the mere presence of homoerotic temptations is a contemptuous thing, the imputation of which is insulting. It’s not.

    Now, the claim is unfounded and a prurient curiosity, and that I think we can object to. But trying to positively establish that the opposite was true, is equally impossible and equally unnecessary, and is just playing their games, is just allowing the debate to be framed in their terms, according to their essentialist notions of sexual identity.

    “To let the accusations stand when there is evidence to the contrary would be assisting in the smear.”

    So you’re saying that merely having same sex attractions is a smear?

    Well, that’s what myself and others here are objecting to. As well as the idea that a few sentences in a diary somehow establish heterosexuality, when many married men, even, experience homosexuality and are just in denial. That’s just playing into their notions of gay essentialism and “sexual orientation” as a foundational moral facet of the individual. As well as the questionable academic practice of extrapolating a few facts or sentences into a whole proof of some highly complex question.

    One thing that distinguishes Catholics from fundamentalist evangelical types is that we do not impute any guilt for “being” homosexual or, more accurately, having the feelings. We impute it for the actions, which I dont think anyone has been foolish enough to accuse Newman of. He was celibate, so he wrestled with sexual temptations (and defeated them) one way or other. Whether the specific object was men, women, or robots…doesnt really matter, and isnt really determinable anymore.

    “I disagree. Murder just hasn’t been mainstreamed and normalized yet…other than war and abortion…and those are very “hot topics” as well. So why not call Newman a murderer? All sins are fungible and we are all sinners, right? I don’t see any would be murderers here claiming that to object to murdering is murder-phobia, we still see it as wrong behavior…although at the rate things are going…”

    Huh? Again, you seem to be missing the point entirely. The man with a murderous temper ISNT a murderer unless he actually murders someone. No one has accused Newman of being a sodomite. The most that has been said is that he experienced the temptations of lust either towards men or towards women. But either way, he was celibate.

    You keep trying to refute some “everyone’s a sinner, so who cares?” argument…but it’s a straw-man because no one has made such an argument!

    Your arguments apply to gay activists who claim objecting to sodomy is “homophobia”. But no one here claims that, so you are preaching to the choir in that regard. However, where some of us have seen potential homophobia in the proper sense is in the idea that apparently the mere presence of a certain type of temptation in Newman would be contemptuous and the imputation of the fact insulting.

    It may be wrong. That’s rather indeterminable (and unnecessary to determine). But it isnt insulting. If you tell me I’m dyslexic…well, the claim may be false, but I wouldnt find it “insulting” because there is nothing wrong with having dyslexia, in fact some of the best people I know struggle with dyslexia. It is a disorder of the brain, not a character flaw.

    All concupiscence is spiritually disordered in some sense, but acting as if the mere presence of same sex attractions is an insulting claim against his character…is to attribute to those mere feelings a moral quality relative to the individual which, in reality, only freely chosen actions can have.

    St. Jerome has long been known to have had an extremely intense irascible temper. But…he fought it. He sublimated it. He didnt call his brother Raqa and certainly didnt murder anyone. No one is scandalized by this information, in fact it is found edifying. Yet, claim that Newman had to fight a temptation of lust towards men instead of towards women…and suddenly people freak out?!?

    It’s inconsistent. I understand and agree with objecting to the claim on the grounds of the impossibility and unimportance of knowing, given that he was celibate either way. But to think it is important to positively establish that his temptations of lust were directed toward women…strikes me as impossible, unnecessary, and allowing the debate to be framed in the enemy’s language and implicit valuation of gay essentialism and “sexual orientation”.

    We dont need to establish that Jerome was a naturally calm and dispassionate man for us to view him as holy. And we dont need to establish that Newman’s feelings were directed towards any particular object, as long as we know he was celibate and didnt act on such feelings either way.

    “The idea that to object to the homosexual agenda (and claiming that prominent historical figures and heroes were acting homosexuals is part of that agenda of advancement) is de facto evidence of mental illness, of irrational “paranoia”.”

    Latekate, please read what you are replying to more carefully. No one has advanced the gay agenda nor said Newman was an ACTING homosexual.

    “The smear tactics, propaganda and bullying by the homosexual promoters are what opened my eyes to their “exceptionalism”. They simply want their sin declared nonsinful and those who object to it made sinners.”

    No one disagrees with that here. But it’s not the question at hand.

  59. avecrux says:

    The claim being refuted is that Newman asked to be buried in the same grave as another man because he fancied him.
    To ask to be buried with a man for that reason IS acting homosexual.

  60. Mark says:

    “To ask to be buried with a man for that reason IS acting homosexual.”

    Only in the most trivially tautological sort of way.

    It would not be homosexual IMMORALITY, however, it would not be unchaste. Which is the only type of accusation that would be insulting and worth refuting.

    The passions can be channeled for good or evil. To act as if those attracted to the same sex must not only not act on it sexually nor entertain lustful thoughts…but also must not let it play any part in even their otherwise chaste actions…is unrealistic, as (like the catechism says) everything we do, especially as regards affectivity towards others, is colored by sexuality. Telling people with a particularly broken sexuality that everything they do is thus tainted or that they must entirely repress or compartmentalize it, is an impossible standard.

    St. Jerome’s hot temper, properly channeled and sublimated, is also probably what gave him the drive and energy to take on such a huge task as the Vulgate.

    It’s not immoral for a homosexual person to be particularly friendly to someone they fancy or try to chastely spend time with them for that reason, as long as it didnt constitute an immediate moral danger either internally or externally. Even a person prone to gluttony may (and must) eat, even food they enjoy, they must simply be more careful.

    And unchastity really wouldnt be a concern if they were both dead, I wouldnt think!

    Again, there is a sort of seeming double standard here. As many of us have no problem with (in fact, might idealize or romanticize) the medieval idea of Courtly Love wherein a knight loved and fought for his Lady even though she was already married and he accepted that it would never, and should never, be consummated and so sublimated erotic desire into something spiritual.

    And yet in potentially analogous situations where the more or less remote (depending on the specific people and circumstances) moral danger is sodomy instead of “merely” heterosexual adultery…people sing a different very tune?

    Tell me, if Newman had jumped in from of Ambrose St John and took a bullet for him…would this have been wrong or immoral if part of his motive was a love resulting from SSA?? I dont think so. And yet, in the trivially tautological sense you propose, it would be a “acting homosexual”…

    But not in the immoral sense which is the subject of this discussion.