Modern Birthing (with update)

A f’ortnight ago I wrote that my daughter was awaiting  ‘imminently’ her first child. That turned out to be optimistic.  Claudia Paige finally made her appearance yesterday afternoon, two weeks late and some 40+ hours after the onset of the first contractions.

Claudia Paige

Claudia Paige

It’s been quite an ordeal for my daughter (and, presumably for hers too), Read the rest of this entry »

St. Patrick: A Role Model?

So why should we see St Paddy as a gay icon?

saint-patrickA recent book on Irish gay history (“Terrible Queer Creatures”, Brian Lacey) presents some evidence he may have had a long term intimate relationship with a man:

“St. Patrick himself may have had a relationship tinged with homoeroticism. Tirechan, a late seventh century cleric who wrote about St. Patrick, tells the story of a man Patrick visited and converted to Christianity, who had a son to whom Patrick took a strong liking. Tirechan wrote that “he gave him the name Benignus, because he took Patrick’s feet between his hands and would not sleep with his father and mother, but wept unless he would be allowed to sleep with Patrick.” Patrick baptized the boy and made him his close lifelong companion, so much so that Benignus succeeded Patrick as bishop of Armagh.”

Going backwards in his life, I have seen elewhere a report (For which, sadly, I no longer have the reference) that after his escape from slavery and return to Britain, he supported himself by working for a time as a prosititute  – yes, good old Patrick sold sexual favours.

Does this sound far fetched? Not if you consider the historical realities of the time.  Patrick’s home was in Roman Britain. Througout the Empire, prostitution was an entirely acceptable way for men or women in desparate circumstances to make a living. Consider also his likley experience as a slave.  In both Roman and Greek society, as well as elsewhere, it was assumed that one of the duties of a slave, particularly if oung or attractive, was to provide sexual services on demand.  Ireland was not under Roman rule, but there is no reason to sujppose that the conditions of slavery were notably different.  (Lacy shows in his book that in pre-christian Ireland same sex relationships were accepted and respected.)

There is another reason, though why we as queer Catholics should look to Patrick as a role model, regardless of his own sexual history, a reason which goes to the heart of his mission.

In “Faith Beyond Resentment”,  theologian James Alison observates that in the Gospel story of the healing of the man possessed by demons, Jesus instruction to the man after healing was to “Go home,” that is, back to the community which had tormented and rejected him, back to his persecutors.

This is what Patrick did.  Having escaped from slavery and returned to his original home, he responded to what he saw as a call to return to the country of his captivity, to go back to the land of his tormentors – and convert them.

So he did, and so, I think, must we.  Tormented and persecuted we have sometimes (but not always) been by the Catholic Church. Somehow, though, we must find a way to move beyond the anger that provokes, to set aside the resentment, and to “go home to” the church. Thereby we will contribute to its own conversion.

Support V2 Petition – Update.

Several weeks ago, I posted information on a petition to support Vatican II, together with a link.  This post has continued to attract readers and support, and many of you have followed the link to the petition site.  Thank you.

There have been numerous reports since then of the wide attention and support that this petition has attracted from around the globe, but the job is not over yet. I have received an email Read the rest of this entry »

God Hates Figs!

From the Box Turtle Bulletin:

This flyer was distributed during a recent Chicago counter-protest against members of the “God hates fags” Westboro Baptist Church.   Food for thought:



Several commentators are reporting that the next man to head Westminster will be Bernard Longley.

I prefer to keep out of this kind of speculation, but if true this will be huge for us.  This is the man who led the diocesan negotiations with the SMPC before our move from the Anglican church of St Anne’s into the Catholic parish in Warwick Street.  It has also been reported that he stood up for us and urged their continuation when Murphy O’Connor allegedly wanted to shut us down.

I vividly recall those negotiations. I think we were all impressed with his sincerity and goodwill.  Early in the very first meeting, he spoke of the importance of speaking ‘freely and frankly’.  He proceeded to do just that, expressing clearly some reservations that the diocese had about the gay community in general, and about what they had heard of our Masses in particular.

Following on his example, I then replied with some frank comments about some reservations held by the LGBT community about the Catholic Church and its hierarchy.  From that point onwards, I certainly felt confident that we were able to speak freely and frankly to each other.  We did not always agree, but established very clear common ground in a shared desire for the Masses to continue and to succeed.

He has been widely described as a ‘conservative’.  I have no knowledge on that score, but am confident in this:  if so, he is one conservative I could most certainly work with.

I hope and pray that this rumour is confirmed.

(The most useful report I have found is from Whispers in the Loggia)

Catholic ‘Dissent’

I vividly remember memorizing, as a child in Catholic primary schools,  page by page, the catechism of the church:  first a slim little red version, later a slightly fatter grey-green version for older students.

“Who made you?
God made me.”

“Why did God make you?
To know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world,  and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”

But by the time I reached secondary school, Vatican II was in progress, enthusiastically embraced by the prest who taught me RE for the next 5 years. I never again saw that little catechism.

There is a quaint view in some quarters that to be a Catholic requires that one suspend all powers of the intellect, and meekly agree to believe, and to live, exactly as one is told.  This view I emphatically reject.  One of the key parables in the Gospels is that of the 10 talents. We are taught that the Lord requires us to use all the talents we are given, for his greater glory and to further His reign on earth.  Surely the intellect is one of the greatest talents He has bestowed on us?  (Another is our sexuality, which should also be used – but that is another story.) Read the rest of this entry »

Benedict’s New Clothes

Michael Bayley, at The Wild Reed, and Colleen Cochivar-Baker at Enlightened Catholicism, show a fascinating exchange of views on the declining numbers in the Western church.  (Both are responding to a reported drop in numbers in the US /Canadian Catholic Church, but the same pattern applies even more in Europe.)  Colleen believes that this decline is a reflection of disillusion by baby boomers at the failure of Vatican II, coupled with an ingrained aversion by generation x’ers and millenials to enforced conformity; Michael argues that his ‘crisis’ is in fact an opportunity, and quotes examples of the  ways in which local churches are refusing to go along with the Vatican, and taking control of their own circumstances.

In general, I agree with Michael, but here I am tempted go even further.  Read the rest of this entry »


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