healing the rift

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 07, 2008

At the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2006, keynoter Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., urged us to "let our imaginations be stretched" by watching Brokeback Mountain, etc. Radcliffe, it appears, stretches easy. At this year's Congress he spoke to the question "Is Dialogue Possible in the Church Today?" In an interview with Busted Halo the former Master General of the Dominicans explained in more detail how we can get beyond our divisions.

Busted Halo: You've been criticized by some -- and praised by others -- for comments you've made regarding homosexuality, specifically with regard to the priesthood. How do you think this divisive issue could be better approached?

Timothy Radcliffe: We have to see that behind much of the furor is fear and these fears are comprehensible. There is a fear among straight priests of becoming a member of a small minority in what is perceived as a 'gay' vocation. There is a fear among some homosexual priests of being found out, a feeling of guilt and so on. We have to reassure people so that the issue can be faced calmly. If there is a fevered anxiety about all this, then it does not help people mature and face their own complexity. It is not the case that there are just these two groups, homosexuals and heterosexuals. People are complex, and have contrary motions in their hearts. Straight people may be tempted to strangle the little bit of them that responds to people of the same sex and fear gay people. But that is a disguised form of fearing themselves. And gay seminarians may be tempted to deny who they are, adopt an anti-gay rhetoric, and all that is highly unhealthy and deforming.

Got it. Straights should put aside their reluctance to accept gay demands, and gays should put aside their reluctance in making them. An ingenious solution.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 08, 2008 4:45 PM ET USA

    I'm always confused by statements pointing out how homosexuals are the victims in any discussion. From my standpoint of fighting to maintain my right to believe what the church teaches, they have become the aggressors in these battles. Notice the language used against heterosexuals: we 'strangle' the homosexual within us. We are fearful of homosexual individuals. It's subtle but definitely there. Also note that everyone is a little bit homosexual. Does that mean we're all a bit hetero as well?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 07, 2008 9:52 PM ET USA

    Pity the heterosexual priests who live under this tyranny. And woe to those authorities in the Church who ignore it.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 07, 2008 9:15 PM ET USA

    Fr Radcliffe's looks like he's poured Nietzsche's Gay Science into Thomas Aquinas' Divine Science and come up with Richard Simmons homiletics for candy floss Catholics set to the soundtrack of the hit song Feelings by Gemini from the 60s/70s.