Vatican – If Newman was gay then Chesterton was an adulterer

Father Ian Ker shows us very clearly that allegations that Newman was gay are based on 21st Century cultural assumptions:

Fr Ker, the author of the definitive biography of Newman, said there was no evidence to suggest that the cardinal was gay other than the grief at the death of his closest friend and the request to be buried in the same grave.

"If wanting to be buried in the same grave as someone else indicates some kind of sexual feelings for the other person, then C S Lewis’s brother Warnie, who is buried in the same grave in accordance with both brothers’ wishes, must have had incestuous feelings for his brother which were mutual," wrote Fr Ker.

"Or again, G K Chesterton’s devoted secretary, Dorothy Collins, whom he and his wife regarded as a daughter, while thinking it presumptuous to ask to be buried in the same grave as the Chestertons, nevertheless directed that she be cremated and that her ashes should be buried in the same grave. Does this mean that she had more than filial feelings for one or both of her employers?"

As to whether Newman’s body should be moved from where he requested it by laid:

"Throughout his life as a Catholic, Newman always insisted that whatever he wrote he wrote under the correction of Holy Mother Church. That was his constant refrain. If the Church decrees that he should be beatified and his remains removed to a place of veneration and pilgrimage, then Newman’s undoubted response would be that his last testament, like everything else he wrote, he wrote under correction of higher authority.

"And if that higher authority decrees that his body be removed and that of his friend left, then Newman would say without hesitation, ‘so be it’."

And that (to coin a phrase) should now be enough to let the matter rest.

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7 Comments on “Vatican – If Newman was gay then Chesterton was an adulterer

  1. I don’t know if Newman was gay or not, but even if he wasn’t, his lifelong chastity and amazing friendship with Ambrose St. John have inspired and encouraged faithful gay Catholics (and other Christians) seeking deeply meaningful and holy friendships with other men.
    There’s no reason to say that he was gay, but there also isn’t any reason to react negatively to the notion that he was. He was a priest. He lived a life of celibate service for God, and he still had a close friend… a friendship that many don’t understand today because such close bonds seem to be reserved for romantic couplings in our culture’s fickle eyes.
    It would be nice if there actually were more models of great and faithful men who openly struggled with and overcame their homosexuality through simple faith and close, chaste bonds. Unfortunately, there aren’t, thanks to an unfair culture of secrecy and shame surrounding homosexuality. So guys like me look to men like Newman even though their actual sexual orientation might not have been the same as ours.
    By the same token, I also look to C.S. Lewis for inspiration about how to be faithful and happy even if I end up an adult and single (he was single for most of his life). It’s not that I think he was gay (far from it!), but the fact that I AM will likely mean that I’ll be single for quite a long time, and so his life is a role model for me in that regard. Newman’s is as well.

  2. Hi Jay,

    I think the issue isn’t really whether Newman was sexually oriented towards men or women. The issue is whether he had any form of sexual relationship with anybody else. The answer is a clear “no” and in saying that you are absolutely right that he is a model of chastity and devotion to God, regardless of who he may have fancied, if anybody!

  3. Y’know Peter, I’ve always had my suspicions that Noddy & Big Ears may have been closet gays before Tinky -Winky came out.

    And Bill & Ben the flowerpot men …..!

  4. Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is the Tatchell Principle? I know who Peter Tatchell is but I’m not au fait with all his doctrines!

  5. Tatchell did say that they could be gay and celibate, which your term “lovers” doesn’t really convey.  I’m assuming you know of lots of actively (or passively!) gay C of E clergy despite Lambeth 98, incidently.

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