Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wilde in the Vatican

The inbox has been full of articles going wild (excuse the pun) over the inclusion of various quotes from Oscar Wilde in a collection of aphorisms published by Fr. Leonardo Sapienza, who's attached to the Papal household.

The general thrust of the stories is this:
-- the Catholic Church/the Vatican hates homosexuals
-- quoting Oscar Wilde, therefore is eyebrow raising
-- and perhaps involves some kind of "rehabilitation" of the "Apostle of Aestheticism".

Another underlying perspective is this:
-- the Catholic Church considers homosexuality to be a kind of disorder (the language of "objective disorder" is never understood in the technical sense it is used, but always interpreted as equivalent to a psychological disorder) and an impurity
-- hence, it would be strange for the Church to be associating in anyway with something that is impure, and even stranger to be giving some kind of approbation to it. Anything smacking of homosexuality (including the witty aphorisms of a celebrated author) are off-limits.

Well, I don't know that the media is entirely to be blamed if the notion persists that the Catholic Church hates homosexual persons. But, put very simply and bluntly, it's not true. And the "impurity/contamination" approach to homosexuality is certainly common in some Catholic circles, but it doesn't really sqaure with Catholic teaching.

Wilde's is a fascinating and thrilling story of grace and sin and fall and redemption. He did convert to Catholicism on his deathbed, and he believed he was cured of an ailment by receiving a blessing from the Pope.

Besides, as the saying goes, every saint has a past, and every sinner a future.

Ruth Gledhill's story (Times UK) follows the above template, but includes a few more quotes from Fr. Sapienza than most stories.

This Independent story has a decent profile of Oscar Wilde.

Here's the URL of a Google news search on "wilde vatican."

More news story links at Vatican Watcher. It's from the comments there that I got a link to this interesting article exploring Wilde's conversion to Catholicism.

Oh, and here's a quote that I was not aware of: "I am not a Catholic. I am simply a violent Papist." Heh. :)

(The other author quoted in the collection is Colombian philosopher Nicolás Gómez Dávila, whom I'd not heard of until now. Makes an interesting companion to Wilde, that's for sure!)

3 comments:

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

Gashwin writes:

Wilde's is a fascinating and thrilling story of grace and sin and fall and redemption. He did convert to Catholicism on his deathbed, and he believed he was cured of an ailment by receiving a blessing from the Pope.

Besides, as the saying goes, every saint has a past, and every sinner a future.


A saying, as you know, first uttered by Oscar Wilde, himself. Perfect.

Gashwin said...

Was it really? I had no idea! And, indeed, yes, perfect! :)

Anonymous said...

An excellent book entitled "The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde" by Joseph Pearce(HarperCollins Publishers,2000) brings out the fact that Oscar Wilde knew that his behavior was degenerate even as he was engaging in it, much like the main character in "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Today, this fact is enraging to those who practice and promote same-sex sex. They insist that their behavior is normal and good. The thought that it is degenerate behavior would lead them to charge that anyone who says it is degenerate is "homophobic" and is commiting a hate crime. Under that criteria they would have charged Oscar Wilde with discrimination based on sexual orientation!