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Gay Jesuit deplores pain caused by Church

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 13, 2005

From the Chronicle of Higher Education (tip to Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice):

The Rev. Thomas Brennan was also raised in a Catholic family. An assistant professor of English at Saint Joseph's University, in Philadelphia, he knew from the time he was 12 or 13 that he was gay. "I've gone to church all my life -- 45 years. It's a very important part of who I am, being Catholic," he says.

Like the other professors interviewed for this article, Father Brennan emphasizes that he is speaking for himself, and not his institution. His frustration with the Catholic church's treatment of gay and lesbian people has grown in the past decade, he says, as he has seen "the unnecessary pain and difficulty it causes people."

He usually lets students in his classes know that he is gay (although, as he points out, because he is a priest he is not in a relationship). "Students need models of gay people who are effectively and happily living their lives," he says.

You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh at this article, which recounts the fears of gay faculty (at Catholic colleges) who, because of their acknowledged sexual propensities, live under constant threat of promotion and tenure. Note the reticence of the Jesuit quoted above, who exemplifies his order's willingness to fight the Pope's battles in the hostile territory of the modern academy. It's a very important part of who he is, being Catholic.

I suppose it's natural that the Catholic element in "Catholic" higher education and traditionally "Catholic" religious orders should, over time, gradually become ceremonial and finally end up a joke. One analogy among many: at one time, it seems, the Beefeaters at the Tower of London had a real military function; now they exist wholly for the benefit of the tourist's camera, and their fierce-looking halberds would be used, if at all, for closing the transom over the gift shop doorway. Yet there must in the past have been a murky transitional period in which the Beefeaters were not quite soldiers and not quite ushers, and their huffiness in guarding their dignity would have been inversely proportional to their capacity for earning it. The old time "Catholic" institutions like St. Joseph's are presently in that in-between state: not a complete joke just yet, but useless in terms of their original function. Pope Benedict relies on the Jesuits for his defence about as much as Queen Elizabeth relies on the Beefeaters for hers. Progress.

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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 14, 2005 7:45 PM ET USA

    Actually, the Queen is in a better position with the Beefeaters than the Pope is with the Jesuits. The Beefeaters aren't out to attack her.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2005 12:59 PM ET USA

    Just a few random thoughts. For any teacher of any orientation to proclaim his or her proclivities to a classroom is grossly improper. My guess is that Fr. Brennan is coyly trolling. Being "gay", but not in "relationship" means "available for recreation". Also, outing oneself these days has become an established technique for making it impossible for your boss to fire you or, perhaps, deny tenure. Yes, the Jesuits have fallen a long way from the North American martyrs.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 14, 2005 9:16 AM ET USA

    The Jesuits have come a ways since their founder, Inigo de Loyola, was struck by a cannon ball: "His leg was set but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again and reset it, all without anesthesia." Inigo was mentally and physically tough. The order he founded was loyal to the Holy Father, footsoldiers of the counter-reformation. Those qualities have all but disappeared into the mists of time.

  • Posted by: The OX - Dec. 14, 2005 5:10 AM ET USA

    Please consider that Homosexuals & Alcoholics have similar probems. Yes they both are problems. Members of (AA) Alcoholics Anonymous wish to remain anonymous, (not named or identified). Not enough space to address the problem in this space allotted, however, to be a member of AA the Alcoholic must want help. They do put their problem on the table Anonymously. God does love Alcoholics & Homosexuals. So does BXVI.

  • Posted by: Ross Dee - Dec. 14, 2005 1:31 AM ET USA

    Rev. Thomas Brennan should be happy that he can suffer for Christ's Church. After all, Jesus died for him. What is he trying to proof by telling his students that he is gay? Being that he is a priest, why would anyone be interested in his sexual orientation and is he saying that, if he wasn't a priest, he would be in a relationship? I would not want him as my teacher. As a priest, he should be spreading the Gospel, instead of sending mixed erroneous messages.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Dec. 14, 2005 12:15 AM ET USA

    ah, the poor much maligned Jesuits. or, is that the much maligning Jesuits. must admit, that his acknowledging "being Catholic" as an important part of who he is, is, well progress!

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