Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Armenian Church E-Newsletter Issue 43 Volume 5

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Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land 6 - 14th February 2015

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Father Frank's Rants - Gay Pope


POPE FRANCIS WALKS A TIGHTROPE OVER THE GAY ISSUE
------------------------------------------------------------

Rant Number 605          20 October 2014


Don’t panic! Pope Francis is as straight as a die. I mean Pope Paul VI. The Pontiff-helmsman of Council Vatican II. Now ‘Blessed Paul’, as the Catholic Church officially beatified him in St Peter’s Square. Soon fully canonised as St Paul, perhaps?

Yet Paul VI was rumoured to be gay. French author Roger Peyrefitte – a sort of Pope-like authority on homosexuality - outed Paul in a scandalous book, Secret Talks. Nasty gossip? But allusions to ‘the Pope’s boyfriend’ were common in Rome during his own lifetime. He was a well-known, gifted actor, Paolo Carlini. Cardinal Giovan Battista Montini took the papal name of ‘Paul’ in homage to Carlini, Peyrefitte claimed…

Despicable stuff? But wait. Paul VI might (or might not) have had gay inclinations but that is not the same as practising them. No person is morally guilty of feelings or drives that come to him involuntarily. Feeling like strangling Tony Blair is not the same as doing it. Gladstone, the great Victorian PM, was drawn to fallen women, i.e. prostitutes, but it is most unlikely he ever slept with one. Besides, gay love – pace homophobes and homophiles alike - is not necessarily sexual. It may well be platonic. As famed homosexual poet Jean Cocteau remarked, ‘a gay man often is like a father to his beloved’. If Pope Paul really was gay, it may have been a sentimental, paternal or fraternal matter – why not? Only the dirty-minded always assume the worst of others. As Dr Johnson said to the lady who complained about naughty words in his Dictionary: ‘You must have been looking for them, Madam!’

‘Yet the Pope rules a church that condemns homosexuality. How could he be gay?’ Why not ask how a Pope could be proud? Or gluttonous or greedy or stingy? All fearful, deadly sins. Odd how the homosexual is picked out as worthy of extreme, disproportionate attention or opprobrium. The Apostle Paul’s fulminations have something to do with it but he also inveighs against many other faults. Anyway, heterosexual lust must account for about 90% of all sins against chastity. Fornication and adultery and perversions are overwhelmingly NOT same-sex related – food for thought!

St Thomas Aquinas following Aristotle calls sodomy ‘contra naturam’, a sin against nature, meaning unnatural acts. Yet mainstream Christian theology does not affirm that such faults are beyond forgiveness. Dante, whose work is shot through with Thomistic categories, shows some gays in Hell, out of which there is no escape, but he also places others (including Julius Caesar who according to historian Suetonius prostituted himself to King Nicomede) in Purgatory. The difference is vital. Hell is forever. In it all is sin and you are eternally lost without any chance of redemption. Purgatory is temporary. It is for those who have died in the grace of God without time to atone for unforgiven sins. Purgatory is probationary but not in the sense that you could slip back. Once on the way up the mountain of Purgatory, after due purification you will be admitted to the Beatific Vision. Hence sporadic gays like Julius Caesar (OK, he was a pagan – a knotty one that!) are on their way
out of Purgatory and happily up, towards Paradise.

Good Pope Francis wishes to ‘welcome’ gays into parishes. Beautiful tolerance but… Methinks John Paul II of blessed memory will be turning over in his grave. So will holy men like Bernardin, Siena’s patron saint. He preached and ranted against homosexuals so much that he had them driven out of the city. Hhhmm…It seems a gentleman had once made an obscene proposal to the young Bernardin. The boy’s reaction had been to knock out the indecent fellow. Guess the episode may have coloured a bit the Saint’s attitude to queers – human, all too human. Anyhow, St Bernardin is lucky not to be around today – he may end up in jail for homophobic crime!

The Synod just concluded in Rome has sent out contradictory messages on gays. There is a wavering between two types of relationships between the Church and the world, as H. Richard Niebuhr delineates in his Christ and Culture. ‘The Church with Culture’ is one. In this model Christianity seeks to work within or alongside the prevailing mores and custom of a society. Given that Western culture now upholds and celebrates homos on a par with heteros, the Church just swims along with that, without making waves. The Church of England is a historical case in point – it went along with English society, for good or ill. Its reward was to be the official church of the great and noble English nation. She thus achieved power, prestige and educational influence.

The other model is the Church against Culture. Here the Church is in opposition. She combats major trends in the official culture. Writers like Tertullian, Pope Gregory VII and John Bunyan are examples. Tertullian attacked the idolatry and immorality of pagan society with its panoply of crimes like abortion, infanticide and gladiatorial games. Pope Gregory opposed Imperial interference while John Bunyan saw the world as a battlefield for fighting Christian spiritual warfare. (My line of country, folks!)

The Church has to keep a fine balance between the two models. Affirm the good in culture but also criticize and oppose a society when it veers towards evil.

‘Dear Pope Francis, I love you. You are walking on a tightrope over the gay issue, I fear. God willing, gays will not queer your pitch.’

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

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FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - GAY POPE


POPE FRANCIS WALKS A TIGHTROPE OVER THE GAY ISSUE
------------------------------------------------------------

Rant Number 605          20 October 2014



Don’t panic! Pope Francis is as straight as a die. I mean Pope Paul VI. The Pontiff-helmsman of Council Vatican II. Now ‘Blessed Paul’, as the Catholic Church officially beatified him in St Peter’s Square. Soon fully canonised as St Paul, perhaps?

Yet Paul VI was rumoured to be gay. French author Roger Peyrefitte – a sort of Pope-like authority on homosexuality - outed Paul in a scandalous book, Secret Talks. Nasty gossip? But allusions to ‘the Pope’s boyfriend’ were common in Rome during his own lifetime. He was a well-known, gifted actor, Paolo Carlini. Cardinal Giovan Battista Montini took the papal name of ‘Paul’ in homage to Carlini, Peyrefitte claimed…

Despicable stuff? But wait. Paul VI might (or might not) have had gay inclinations but that is not the same as practising them. No person is morally guilty of feelings or drives that come to him involuntarily. Feeling like strangling Tony Blair is not the same as doing it. Gladstone, the great Victorian PM, was drawn to fallen women, i.e. prostitutes, but it is most unlikely he ever slept with one. Besides, gay love – pace homophobes and homophiles alike - is not necessarily sexual. It may well be platonic. As famed homosexual poet Jean Cocteau remarked, ‘a gay man often is like a father to his beloved’. If Pope Paul really was gay, it may have been a sentimental, paternal or fraternal matter – why not? Only the dirty-minded always assume the worst of others. As Dr Johnson said to the lady who complained about naughty words in his Dictionary: ‘You must have been looking for them, Madam!’

‘Yet the Pope rules a church that condemns homosexuality. How could he be gay?’ Why not ask how a Pope could be proud? Or gluttonous or greedy or stingy? All fearful, deadly sins. Odd how the homosexual is picked out as worthy of extreme, disproportionate attention or opprobrium. The Apostle Paul’s fulminations have something to do with it but he also inveighs against many other faults. Anyway, heterosexual lust must account for about 90% of all sins against chastity. Fornication and adultery and perversions are overwhelmingly NOT same-sex related – food for thought!

St Thomas Aquinas following Aristotle calls sodomy ‘contra naturam’, a sin against nature, meaning unnatural acts. Yet mainstream Christian theology does not affirm that such faults are beyond forgiveness. Dante, whose work is shot through with Thomistic categories, shows some gays in Hell, out of which there is no escape, but he also places others (including Julius Caesar who according to historian Suetonius prostituted himself to King Nicomede) in Purgatory. The difference is vital. Hell is forever. In it all is sin and you are eternally lost without any chance of redemption. Purgatory is temporary. It is for those who have died in the grace of God without time to atone for unforgiven sins. Purgatory is probationary but not in the sense that you could slip back. Once on the way up the mountain of Purgatory, after due purification you will be admitted to the Beatific Vision. Hence sporadic gays like Julius Caesar (OK, he was a pagan – a knotty one that!) are on their way
out of Purgatory and happily up, towards Paradise.

Good Pope Francis wishes to ‘welcome’ gays into parishes. Beautiful tolerance but… Methinks John Paul II of blessed memory will be turning over in his grave. So will holy men like Bernardin, Siena’s patron saint. He preached and ranted against homosexuals so much that he had them driven out of the city. Hhhmm…It seems a gentleman had once made an obscene proposal to the young Bernardin. The boy’s reaction had been to knock out the indecent fellow. Guess the episode may have coloured a bit the Saint’s attitude to queers – human, all too human. Anyhow, St Bernardin is lucky not to be around today – he may end up in jail for homophobic crime!

The Synod just concluded in Rome has sent out contradictory messages on gays. There is a wavering between two types of relationships between the Church and the world, as H. Richard Niebuhr delineates in his Christ and Culture. ‘The Church with Culture’ is one. In this model Christianity seeks to work within or alongside the prevailing mores and custom of a society. Given that Western culture now upholds and celebrates homos on a par with heteros, the Church just swims along with that, without making waves. The Church of England is a historical case in point – it went along with English society, for good or ill. Its reward was to be the official church of the great and noble English nation. She thus achieved power, prestige and educational influence.

The other model is the Church against Culture. Here the Church is in opposition. She combats major trends in the official culture. Writers like Tertullian, Pope Gregory VII and John Bunyan are examples. Tertullian attacked the idolatry and immorality of pagan society with its panoply of crimes like abortion, infanticide and gladiatorial games. Pope Gregory opposed Imperial interference while John Bunyan saw the world as a battlefield for fighting Christian spiritual warfare. (My line of country, folks!)

The Church has to keep a fine balance between the two models. Affirm the good in culture but also criticize and oppose a society when it veers towards evil.

‘Dear Pope Francis, I love you. You are walking on a tightrope over the gay issue, I fear. God willing, gays will not queer your pitch.’

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

============================================================
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Armenian Church and Victoria Street in North Nicosia - Cyprus

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