In which Harper expresses her love for Jesuits
I have a soft spot for Jesuits. There's no theological or intellectual reason for this; rather, I was influenced by 'The Mission' at a pretty young age, and I also fell in love with Mary Doria Russel's The Sparrow. (And by the way? If you haven't read that book yet, what the hell are you sitting there on your butt staring at this computer for?! Go read! Read!)
Anyway, so I've liked Jesuits. After reading some of John J. McNeill's books, this love only increased. McNeill was a Jesuit and gay man who ministered to gay and lesbian people in the church. After writing “The Church and the Homosexual” in 1976, which challenged the Church's stance on gays in the church, McNeill was basically warned to shut up or he'd get in trouble. And he did shut up for several years, although he continued to minister. But finally his conscious could not allow him to be silent - especially after he was warned to stop ministering to gays - and so he spoke out against the Church's stance again. He was thus expelled from the Jesuit Order in 1987. (I think you can read about this story in his book, Taking a Chance on God: Liberating Theology for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Lovers, Families, and Friends). But instead of despairing, this really awsome guy keeps going. He writes these great, life-affirming books that insist the Church must change. He's a great guy.
Here: the HRC has a great article up about him, focusing on the Church's recent gay witch-hunt.
The witch hunt that some say is going on in the Roman Catholic Church today – the one that would root out gay priests – is a necessary evil in the view of John J. McNeill, an openly gay Jesuit priest and author of “The Church and the Homosexual,” which in 1976 was the first book by an accredited theologian to challenge church teachings about gays and lesbians.
“That seems to be in the cards now. I marvel at how the Holy Spirit is going about this,” McNeill said. “I think this whole thing is the work of the Holy Spirit: Catholics have to learn to not find God in hierarchy; they have to learn to find God directly and immediately in their own lives. And in order to do that, God has to free us from dependence on the hierarchy. This whole process is how God is freeing us to find the voice of God in our own experience through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“The church could have made that change out of its own freedom, but it didn’t. So it has to be done this very negative and difficult way.”
Ah, but how I've digressed!
Allow me to return to my point: I have a soft spot for Jesuits. And look at this: Jesuit Official Rips Expected Ban on Gays:
A top Jesuit official has been contacting leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to protest a soon-to-be-released
Vatican document that is expected to reinforce the teaching that gays are not welcome in the priesthood.
The Rev. Gerald Chojnacki, head of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, said in a letter to his priests that he was asking bishops to tell Vatican officials who are drafting the policy "of the great harm this will cause many good priests and the Catholic faithful."
Chojnacki wrote in the letter, dated Monday, that he had participated in the funerals of several gay Jesuit clergy over the last few years.
"I find it insulting to demean their memory and their years of service by even hinting that they were unfit for priesthood because of their sexual orientation," he wrote.
I'm really impressed that some in the Church are speaking out. I think we might see some real change in the Catholic Church soon. Now, mind you, I'm not saying things will change for the better. I doubt they're going to reverse their stance. But I think there's a chance that people are going to start speaking out, and that's going to affect a lot of people. It'll be interesting to watch.