Comments: opinion

'The pope is not gay' and the review are staggering.

Both kind of shocking and interesting and humane and amusing- all at the same time.

A warning of religion at its worst and a reminder of better religion - or at least of what might be...

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 21 August 2010 at 12:11pm BST

Mark Vernon's column on Blake, and the drawings at the Tate that Vernon links to, are fascinating.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 21 August 2010 at 4:42pm BST

"But when you look at the Pope's mental architecture (I've read a great deal of his writing over the last two decades) you do see that strong internal repression does make sense of his life and beliefs Andrew Sullivan."

- Andrew Sullivan -

Andrew Sullivan's review of Colum Tobin's essay on Pope Benedict 16 is startling in its clarity on the question of this present Pope's attitude towards homosexuality. If it were not commenting on the article of an accredited Roman Catholic observer, one might have thought it scurrilous and lacking in courtesy to the Roman Pontiff.

However, in terms of the struggle to understand the present dilemma of the Church and Sexuality - both Anglican and Roman - Toibin's essay, as interpreted by Andrew, brings new insight into the problems of how leadership in the Churches can be compromised by the kenotic protestation of any one of its members - in an attempt to stifle their own inner sexuality in the interests of *peace* in the Church.

One knows of priests and bishops in both Churches who are intrinsically gay, but who are determined to appear otherwise in order to preserve the cult of sexual purity - not only for themselves but for all others in the Church (and in the World!).

'Special Friendships' have always been known to exist in the Church - especially in Religious Communities where it is difficult to hide one's inner need of a particular relationship amongst one's peers. While the Church has long officially discouraged such relationships; that between Pope Benedict and his Secretary seemingly is one in which a particular charism of personal affection is revealed. This is not to say that there is any overt sexual expression of that relationship - to say so would be tantamount to a calumny on the Church and the Pope.

However, the Pope's outward attitude of harsh discrimination against gays is not dissimilar to that expressed by others in the Church who are themselves intrinsically homosexual but would die rather than admit to this reality in public. This is a well-known denial factor ancopuntered in psychological studies, which certainly ought to prompt the Leaders of the Church to try to understand this phenomenon.

Reflection on this may serve to reinforce the 'religious' view of the purists among us that it's alright to be gay, but to avoid practising it (whatever that may mean in terms of sexual activity). This thinking, though, tends to avoid any true understanding of the sheer incidence of homosexuality - that 'being gay' is perfectly natural for a percentage of the human race, both male and female, a factor which the purists deny.

One might think of this as hypocrisy at the most exquisite level, but actually, it is not helpful for the Churches' understanding of the real, everyday situation of the gay person.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 21 August 2010 at 6:28pm BST

Finally someone sticks up for Blake as an artist, and a very misunderstood one, even now.

Posted by Counterlight at Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 1:05am BST

Tobin's essays and Sullivan's riposte are indeed illuminating and profound. Important in a real way for those of us who want to understand the present and self-inflicted quagmires of the Church of Rome.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 5:42am BST

"This is a well-known denial factor ancopuntered in psychological studies" - above -

Just in case anyone thought I was trying out an entirely new field of psychological studies, the word 'ancopuntered' should read 'encountered'

mea maxima culpa!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 2:03pm BST

Fr. Ron, I just thought it was a type of modern acupuncture/psychotherapy fusion.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 25 August 2010 at 5:32am BST

Re: The Pope Is Not Gay!

I actually found both Tobin and Sullivan's articles to be more interesting and illuminating than the actual book itself, which while I found it readable and interesting, I thought the central argument was put forward quite weak.

Posted by selma at Thursday, 26 August 2010 at 5:21pm BST
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