After spending last weekend in Rome for the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, this week I am just outside Zurich, for some family time of my own with my daughter and grandchildren. This not however, just holiday time. It’s also very much a working holiday: keeping up with news from Rome on the Family Synod, and pushing ahead with some new projects.
I wrote some time ago, about a belief that LGBT Christians need to “take back the tradition” in Church history, just as others have begun to “Take Back the Word” in biblical studies (to use the title of a book edited by Robert Goss). The young Fr Joseph Ratzinger wrote about the dangerous “distorting tradiion” against which we must be ever vigilant. It it high time that we correct the distorted tradition.
For LGBT History Month in the UK next February, queer church history will be a major theme. As my contribution, I will be developing an extended series of posts on the subject, which I hope I will also present in audio – visual form, as well as conventional blog posts.
Here is my current outline for this project, which will be cross – posted at The Queer Church Repository, where it will be constantly updated and expanded.
“Take Back the Tradition”
Some Topics in Queer Church History
Pope Benedict XVI was viewed by many LGBT people as “Maledict”, for some of his writing, especially the Hallowe’en letter he wrote when still Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF – the modern successor to the Inquisition. But there’s another aspect to Benedict of importance to LGBT people, beyond his disordered language on sexuality, and that is his insights into church history – and the lessons we can draw from these LGBT Christians.
Benedict had some important words about St joan of Arc. He once noted that she was tried, convicted and burned for heresy by the cardinals and theologians of the Church. (We should remember too, that part of the charges against her was for cross – dressing, and gender non-conformity). However, he continued, centuries later she was rehabilitated and canonized, and now regarded as a saint. The pointed lesson he drew, was that Christian leaders, cardinals, theologians, and others, can be wrong.
This is just one pertinent example of a much bigger problem that he had written about years ago, when still the young theologian plain Father Joseph Ratzinger. This was that alongside the valuable tradition in church history, there’s a distorting tradition, against which we must always be on our guard. LGBT people have suffered grievously as victims of this distorting tradition.
There’s a distorting tradition in biblical interpretation, which uses spurious claims that the bible “clearly” condemns homosexuality, resulting in biblical abuse to support prejudice and discrimination.
There’s a distorting tradition of marriage, which falsely claims that marriage has always been between one man and one woman, for the purposes of procreation.
There’s a distorting tradition in theology, which abuses Thomas’ Aquinas of natural law to condemn allegedly “unnatural” sex.
There’s a forgotten tradition of queer saints and martyrs, in which men and women with a same – sex affectional orientation have been airbrushed out of history.
There’s a forgotten tradition of respect for the value of intimate male relationships.