Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Definite "No!" to Gay Pride Invitation

I have recently been invited to attend, with the parish banner, Brighton Gay Pride! Admittedly it was a letter addressed to "Dear Parish Priest/Minister/PCC Secretary", rather than to me by name, it was signed "Nigel & Maggie", there was no surname and only a P.O. Box to reply to, which in liberated Brighton actually surprised me. Very kindly they supplied a stamped addressed envelope.

I have actually never seen the Brighton Gay Pride procession. I am afraid I might see some of my parishioners taking part in it but also I do not want to be seen showing any support for this.

What does the Church have to say to people who define themselves as being "Gay" and parade their sexuality in public, and I am told sometimes in a very overt form. There are people in my parish of the same sex who live together, I presume in deep friendship, as brothers, as sisters. There is a couple who didn't live a chaste life but now do, who say the Rosary and the Little Office of Our Lady everyday together, their friendship has brought them a certain sanctity. I seem to spend a lot of time consoling sad "Gay" men who want to live a life that is pleasing to God. I know in the States there are organisation like Courage, in the UK there is "The Gay Mass" at Warwick Street, which seems to be more of an encounter group rather than something which calls people to holiness and obedience to the Magisterium.

I know that by mentioning this issue dreadful "anonymous" will rave about "Sodomites" and "Buggers" in the comments, but the Church has always welcomed men who have a homosexual inclination, Oscar Wilde became a Catholic, his lover/betrayer is buried in the Catholic Church's cemetery in Crawley. One of the finest 20th Century Catholic novels "Brideshead", is about a homosexual relationship, so many converts like Sassoon were homosexual. St Philip Neri seems to have had a ministry to young homosexual men of his time, the Renaissance revived classical morals as well as classical values.

So what do we have to say today?
How do we promote friendship?
How do we make chastity attractive?
How do we stop the Church being seen as the enemy of homosexuals, whilst upholding the Church's teaching?


Anonymous said...

If only we could show this for the wider issue it is - sexual love being souch an amazing gift - sharing in God's unitive and creative love - in his very life. Instead we trivialise it and bring ourselves to the animal level by implying chastity and self control are impossible. Anyone can fall deeply and lastingly in love with anyone else - even the most seemingly imappropriate relationships can bear emotional and spiritual fruit if they are not allowed to degenerate into disordered sexual activity.

Anonymous said...

What does the Church say to people who parade their ....
Try this
Grow up please, nobody likes to see immature middle aged hippies wiggling their giblets in a pair of tongs - its soooo sad and passe.

As regards transforming lives -
I think the grace of God working through holy priests who care about their flock enough to speak the truth with love, will do the job very well.

Keep up the good work.

Ttony said...

Father, I have no answers to your questions, but would speculate that trying to work out how to answer them positively is itself a path to holiness.

Anagnostis said...

I'm with TTony.

The answer must be bound up with the sacraments, I suspect. I remember somebody asked me what I'd do if my son announced he was "gay". Well - I don't know (I only have daughters). I hope it would be something like - "stay close to the sacraments - don't be proud, or waste time before seeking absolution; be humble, be kind, remember God and go to Church - but above all, don't succumb to the worst temptation of all, which is to construct a private morality around your inclinations"

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't think it is that simple, at least not the first part of you comment.
What would the Lord do or say?

Anonymous said...

Right Father,
What would Jesus do?

When Mathew the tax collector invited Jesus to dine with him, Jesus accepted and the apostles were scandalised. Jesus replied that he had come to save sinners and that he would go anywhere he was invited.
He joined Mathew for dinner. He ate with him and defiled himself under Jewish Law. He used it as an opportunity to preach about the Kingdom of God.

Father, YOU have been invited to the gay pride march.
What are YOU going to do??????

Tough dilemma Father, I feel taxed by your predicament.

Yours (sending a pair of Thongs in the post!)

Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen if I, as a member of a really persecuted minority (Catholic married stay at home mother), organised a pro-family and marriage anti-Government discrimination march and went on it wearing a 'Straight Pride' t-shirt..? Don't suppose I'd last long!

Anonymous said...

…wiggling their giblets in a pair of tongs…? My imagination ran away with me, lol! 'Thongs', I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, dear Father, for an excellent post. It is edifying to see same–sex "couples" who, after a time, open themselves to the grace of the merciful Christ, and begin to live in chastity and lasting friendship, devoting themselves to prayer and to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Such conversions, in my experience, have come through the maternal mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Rosary generally plays a very important role, as does Eucharistic adoration and a variety of holy friendships in heaven and on earth. Saint Philip Neri and Saint Alphonsus Liguori "fathered" many dissolute souls into virtue and holiness.

Reading between the lines of his biographies, I have long thought that the Carmelite Servant of God Father Augustin–Marie du Saint–Sacrement (Hermann Cohen) was converted from a "gay" lifestyle. He became a witness to the mercy of Christ and a zealous proponent of Eucharistic adoration. He had a constellation of holy friends, many of whom have been declared Servants of God or Blesseds. Someone should write about him!

Anonymous said...

A PAIR of thongs, Benfan? Don't you only need one?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Don Marco,
My experience, here, is the Rosary most especially is such an incredible tool of conversion; that constant meditation on the Person of the Lord in the presence of His Blessed Mother.

Physiocrat said...

Given you have been invited, it might do no harm, perhaps, to take the opportunity to say what following the orthodox Catholic teaching can do for gay men and women. If you got a group together and let them have their say, I suspect you would find that most of them would eventually admit they are not happy with their lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray,

You ask about what can be done to make chastity attractive to gay people. Never underestimate the value of your personal witness as a celibate priest – you are living proof of the fact that having a “sexual partner” is not conditio sine qua non for a fulfilled and fulfilling life – one of the 1,001 very good reasons, in my opinion, for the Church not to abandon the discipline of priestly celibacy.

Anonymous said...

Re: the immediate concern, we all have our crosses to bear as far as which sins we are prone to in that regard, I think the best advice is to stay close to the sacraments, and pay special attention to avoid the near occasions of sin. And, of course, the "occasions of sin" are going to differ from person to person. I suspect it's a good idea for gay people NOT to hang out in gay bars, or go to "gay pride parades." IT seems to me that the chances of being a "near occasion of sin" would be excellent to outstanding for most gays.

But I am at a loss at your statement regards Brideshead Revisited. Have you read that in the last 20 years? IMO, it has NOTHING to do with a "homosexual relationship" it could well be argued that none of the principles is homosexual. The book is all about how different types of Catholics respond to the faith! And how they all come home to the faith!

In the end it could be said that Charles Ryder is also won over to the Catholic faith. One doesn't see that until the end..the last scene...and the book is much more explicit re: this.

Each member of the Lord Marchmain's family has a different relationship to the faith: Lord Marchmain...fallen away...but at the very last makes a deathbed act of faith. Lady Marchmain...long suffering...the uber Catholic...and her children resent her standing so rigidly upon them...but in the end she comes to grips with her own shortcomings.

Brideshead, intellectually believes in the faith...and "conventional." The youngest daughter, Cordelia, makes fun of the silly arbitrary rules of the nuns, but is catholic to the core where it counts...visibly upset at the thought of not having the Eucharist in the chapel, should that be close, and ends employed doing "good works." Julia, is unobservant, marries outside the church, and realizes the priest was right about her 1st marriage...just a hollow man. AFter she and Charles have a torrid affair (after Charles had left his wife and children for her) -- after her father dies...she realizes and admits to herself that what she has been doing is wrong and she can't continue to live in breaks with Charles.

Sebastian is the most difficult to plumb...but his problem isn't homosexuality, it's drink. I do not believe Charles and Sebastian had a homosexual affair, as many seem to think. I think it's easy to mistake the effete manners of Sebastian for this. IT's clear from the text that Charles isn't gay. Indeed Charles and Sebastian had picked up some tarts before they were thrown in jail for Sebastian's drunk driving.

Cara [the mistress] spoke to Charles about the relationship...i.e. English men have the intense FRIENDSHIP when they are much older than continental males "it comes when you are almost grown."

Sebastian's sexuality is ambiguous at best, and it's meant to be. His relationship with Kurt is more problematic...but the text also relates that Kurt is so messed up, it gives Sebastian someone he feels HE can help. If Sebastian DID have a homosexual relationship, then it was with Kurt, and not Charles. And The book hardly centers around that relationship. In the end Sebastian's a hanger on in north africa, helping out in the hospital...and nanny informs Charles at the end of the book that the other three are in Palestine [i.e. another reference to the knights of all seeing the light shining before the tabernacle when they come home from the crusades.]

If you entertain the idea that in the end Charles himself converted to the faith, then the delicate choice of tenses Waugh employs make so much more sense on second reading. He constantly has Charles saying things like "I had not understood then...." [i.e. he understands "now."] In the beginning before all the "Flashback" Charles' batman Hooper mentions that the "RC Chapel" is "more in your line, I think." anyway.

Sorry to go on so long about this issue, but I think you'd really enjoy reading the book again. The BBC gazillion part adaptation was superb, but there were a few subtleties it couldn't capture...particularly re: the tabernacle scene at the very end of the book.

Pay attention to all the stuff about moving the house, and the Marchmain nobility...all that business about Lady Marchmain bringing Lord Marchmain's family back to the faith. etc. Things your eyes may glide over on first reading absolutely jump at you the second and subsequent passes.

You want gays in Brideshead? Anthony Blanche is your man!!! He has one of the best statements ever in all literature about Charles' awful painting exhibition. Everyone was politely praising his South American...and Charles knew it wasn't any good, and so did Antony...who said:

""My dear, let us not expose your little imposture before these good,
plain people...let us not spoil their innocent pleasure. We know,
you and I, that this is all t-t-terrible t-t-tripe. Let us go,
before we offend the connoisseurs."

Brideshead is my absolute favorite novel on this earth. I once was visiting Sacrameto and went to mass at the cathedral. A visiting priest brought up the end scene in Brideshead revisited in his sermon...regards being drawn to the tabernacle...and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven that a priest worked that into a sermon.

If you can arrange to have it shown in your parish in bits and pieces without "the powers that be" coming down on your back [not "your" powers that be, I don't know what the laws are in the UK showing the movie in bits and pieces to anyone one wants to gather in a church hall for fun to see it over othe course of a month or so...maybe you'd be okay if you didn't charge for it.] Anyway, it would certainly stimulate a lot of discussion about the faith. I think EVERYONE knows a catholic of each type presented! And that's want makes it so fascinating. Many, many people don't even know it's a book ABOUT the faith, and how different catholics respond to it until WELL into the book. they get entranced by all the "gentry/Oxford/effete/social class" business and keep focusing on Sebastian's sexuality...thinking "that's what it's about" and then it hits them [if they've been blind before!] that the Julia Breakdown scenes and the father's deathbed return to the church...and ALL the children's making piece with God is what it's about. In the end, Charles is won over too. He. The "detached" observer. Charles stands for "everyman." Anyway, "Basta." I haven't gone to bed yet, and I've got to be at work in a few hours, for a few hours!

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Anne-Marie I would join you-and bring all the kids!
I have been thinking about the very same idea, and if there is a UK branch of Courage, we could involve them too :)

Father, the only thing I can think of, is you can teach the Church's Truth about sexual morality to all your parishioners. It's 'wholeness' is what makes it so attractive.
God bless

Anonymous said...

But there is a British branch of Courage - it's called Encourage:

Anonymous said...

Father Ray's comments are very timely and the references to saints inolved with gay men and women is an important part of our Catholic culture and heritage. As indeed, are those mentioned by Don Marco and if you read the lives of the saints carefully there are many others.

I think it is important to note though..which seems to have been missed here... that the Church suggests the same ways of managing sexuality for both straight unmarried Catholics and for gay Catholics.

It is then up to all of us to make individual choices based on our consciences' as to how to live with our sexuality. Father Ray rightly holds up our Church's teaching as an ideal, but it is not something that all Catholics either feel able to, or based on an informed conscience choose to embrace.

It seems to me that the problem with some of the anti gay rhetoric in blogs such as this, (such as the assumption that gay men and women are inherently more unhappy than straight people)is that it tends to alienate the men and women who may find that their lives can benefit from advice that people such as Father Ray offer.

Our city has the largest proportionate gay population in the UK and I think we need to be careful to follow ALL that our Church teaches, not just what fits with our own beliefs, especially with regards "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided" (#2358 in the Catechism).

And an even more sharply worded recent statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states: "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech, or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs" (Letter to the Bishops of the World on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, #10).

Lets support Father Ray at helping to create the tolerance and understanding that Jesus expects us to show in our Church. Sure, uphold the ideal, but be understanding of the choices those make who fall short of this ideal.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading Karen's post - you are obviously as fond of the book as I am Karen - one of my absolute favourites too - and the TV series is so good that it doesn't spoil things. In fact I saw the TV stuff first then read the book afterwards, which doesn't usually work. I'm not quite sure I agree with you about Sebastian and Charles though...
Sorry to highjack your post Father - just wanted to let Karen know how much I enjoyed reading what she said.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Amette, I love every little thing about Brideshead. I saw the BBC gazillion part series 1st too. I think the Sebastian/Charles relation does certainly look suspect at first...but there's enough elsewhere to convince me that Charles is 100% hetro. :-D If you'd like to drop me a line further, please feel free to email at -- and you other Brideshead's fans too. Just put something regards "Brideshead" in the subject line and I'll know it's not spam.

Anonymous said...

As a someone who regularly goes to the Mass for LGBT people at Warwick St. in London I'm shocked at the implication that it's an "encounter" group. My experience is that it is a wonderful, holy and grace-filled Mass which draws many people who have been persecuted or made to feel excluded, and many who have experienced the deepest despair because of the ravages of HIV/AIDS, back to the loving arms of Christ. I thank God that the Holy Spirit has given the Cardinal the courage to reach out to this community, and would ask for your prayers for us.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you anon, for making your point about the Warwick Street Mass.

Pentimento said...

Fr. Marco said:

Reading between the lines of his biographies, I have long thought that the Carmelite Servant of God Father Augustin–Marie du Saint–Sacrement (Hermann Cohen) was converted from a "gay" lifestyle. He became a witness to the mercy of Christ and a zealous proponent of Eucharistic adoration. He had a constellation of holy friends, many of whom have been declared Servants of God or Blesseds. Someone should write about him!

I'm currently writing my doctoral dissertation about music and conversion in 19th-century England, including a section on Fr. Hermann Cohen, and I don't think there's any evidence that he was gay. He was known to have had illicit affairs with women, some married, and his last fling before his conversion was with one of the most famous courtesans of 19th-century Paris, Celeste Mogador. He emulated Liszt, his teacher, friend, patron, and a famous womanizer. My blog ( has a post about Fr. Hermann for 11 November with a link to an interesting article about him by an American; most of the other sources are in French.

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