Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"O, What a Tangled Web We Weave. . ."

Oh dear. The Vatican is faced with a terrible dilemma: How to canonize Cardinal John Henry Newman, who was buried with his great love, Ambrose St John, without having to admit that the Cardinal was interred in circumstances that might (to anyone sane) suggest that the Cardinal was homosexually inclined.

Andrew Sullivan tells us that the Cardinal wrote this about St John's death:

"I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine."
Newman's choice of a subject for comparison was neither hasty nor random, I think. It is just possible, isn't it, that the Cardinal was suggesting that the faithful might profit by looking more closely at their bigotry. That's something we like to think a Cardinal about to be canonized might have done, anyway.

Nevertheless, from Andrew Sullivan:
"Now, the Vatican, nervous that this joint burial might raise questions about Newman, and always eager to insist that gay men, even celibate ones, cannot be saints any more than they can now be seminarians, is actually exhuming Newman's body and reburying it sans St John. Reburying saints is not unknown, but violating such a core last wish of this great man is definitely suspicious. They could exhume St John too and re-bury both together, respecting their clear wishes, but that would be off-message for the now pathologically homophobic Vatican."
You might think that the Vatican has other, more pressing issues, such as how to address the riot of child abuse unleashed by its priests over decades and decades, or perhaps how to be relevant in a world gone mad with greed and hate and violence. And piety.

Well, no. At least the former's been taken care of. Cardinal Bernard Law is safely and luxuriously ensconsed in the Vatican, out of reach of mischievous lawyers, and besides, Big Ben has said he's sorry.

How better now to demonstrate its moral supremacy than by violating the sanctity of the grave in order to commit yet another great hoax by editing the Cardinal's history?

The depths to which Bible-based homophobes will plunge to demonstrate their superior virtue never cease to amaze me.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive."
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17