The New Catholic Homophiles and Their Critics

Gay St. Aelred?

This new school of writers and thinkers that I have called the New Homophiles are not without their critics. How could they not be? After all, while they want a warmer embrace from the Church, they want more than that and some of it seems at variance with the wishes and perhaps even the teachings of the Church.

Some of their critics come from their own ranks, those with chaste same-sex attraction but who also believe the New Homophiles have gone too far.

Terry Nelson runs a blog called “Abbey Roads in Ordinary Time” where he regularly takes after New Homophile propositions. In an October 2010 post he wrote about the idea that St. Aelred was gay or at least same-sex attracted. This is a major point among the New Homophiles who believe Aelred’s book “Spiritual Friendship” offers a treatise for how to be gay and chaste and still experience intensely loving relationships with another man.

Aelred wrote, “It is no small consolation in this life to have someone you can unite with in an intimate affection and the embrace of holy love, someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whom pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow … with whom spiritual kisses, as with remedial salves, you may draw out all the weariness of your restless anxieties.”

Sounds pretty gay to my modern ears, and to the New Homophiles, too.

Terry Nelson begs to differ, as do Aelred scholars. He says the Aelred-as-gay meme is of recent vintage, “…a novel theory postulated in the mid-twentieth century … those who make this claim are looking at this from our nineteenth–twenty-first century perspective and contemporary understanding of same-sex relations as posited by gay culture today.”

He accuses the New Homophiles of playing something of a “doctrinal shell game” where “just about every time a couple of them write anything ‘ground-breaking’ they seem to be challenged by readers as to their orthodoxy. Subsequently they appear to backtrack and present voluminous explanations of what they really meant to say … it seems to me the underlying intention is to normalize homosexuality and to declare gay is good.”

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