Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

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):

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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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