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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Dem bones, dem bones, dem gay bones

Catholics are kinky about moving bits of people's bodies about. They're always digging up bones and moving them from one place to another. The latest bit of body snatching comes with their wish to dig up Cardinal Newman's bones – but this is one bone-rattling expedition that's got gays twitching.

You see, Cardinal Newman is widely thought to have been gay, although whether he expressed his sexuality physically or allowed himself to remain celibate according to his vows may never be known.

Be that as it may, he wanted to be laid to rest alongside the companion he loved, even going so far as saying that his grief on losing that companion – Father Ambrose St John, with whom he lived for most of their adult lives – far outweighed any grief a man might feel at the loss of a wife, or vice versa.

The Church reckons it wants to dig up the cardinal's bones in preparation for beatification. The human- and gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell thinks otherwise: he thinks it's a homophobic act, designed to part the two men who devoted themselves lovingly to each other in their lifetimes.

Tatchell makes his views known in the Independent.

"The Vatican's decision to move Cardinal Newman's body from its resting place is an act of grave robbery and religious desecration," Tatchell tells the paper. "It violates Newman's repeated wish to be buried for eternity with his life-long partner Ambrose St John.

"They have been together for more than 100 years and the Vatican wants to disturb that peace to cover up the fact that Cardinal Newman loved a man. It's shameful, dishonourable betrayal of Newman by the gay-hating Catholic Church."

Not surprising, though, is it, if it's true? What are the Catholic hierarchy for if not to spread hatred and fear? The real tragedy is not that there are people like that (there will always be evil among us), but that influential people allow themselves, in turn, to be influenced by them.

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