"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Whenever the Cardinal Newman Society launches one of its pious tirades, I can't help but note the society's namesake was himself an apparent homosexual who had what could be called a long-term committed relationship with another priest.
So devoted was Cardinal Newman to Fr. Ambrose St. John that the cardinal arranged for the two of them to share the same grave.
It doesn't exactly bolster the campaign against the gay-rights agenda to cite the dedication the Newman Society's patron inscribed in his Apologia:
And to you especially, dear AMBROSE ST. JOHN; whom God gave me, when He took every one else away; who are the link between my old life and my new; who have now for twenty-one years been so devoted to me, so patient, so zealous, so tender; who have let me lean so hard upon you; who have watched me so narrowly; who have never thought of yourself, if I was in question.
It is certain that Newman was sexually abstinent throughout his life, nevertheless he spent most of his life with his closest friend, Fr. Ambrose St. John. Some reports [see Hillard ref. below for rebuttal] state that he lay all night on Ambrose St. John's bed after Ambrose's death, and, certainly, stipulated in his will that he wished to be buried in the same grave as Fr. St. John at Rednal in the English midlands [where I fact he is buried today.]
The late British gay historian Alan Bray cited the shared grave of Newman and St. John among other English churchyard memorials to same-sex couples over the centuries to argue a precedent for the blessing of gay unions. From The Guardian:
Evidence that churches in Britain sanctioned same sex relationships for as long as 500 years has been presented to the Roman Catholic Church.
The study, by a British historian, suggests that the churches look at memorials dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries, commemorating passionate friendships. Often the partners were buried together.
Even Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of English Catholicism's most revered figures from the 19th century, insisted that he be buried with his closest friend.
Newman wrote after the death of Ambrose St John in 1875: "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."
He described the "spiritual" relationship between Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th century Catholic theologian, and his friend Ambrose St John who are buried together.
Their names are on a cross in the burial ground of the fathers of St Philip Neri on the Lickey Hills, south of Birmingham.
Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, said of his relationship with Ambrose: "From the first he loved me with an intensity of love which was unaccountable."
After Ambrose died in 1875, the Cardinal described how the two men had embraced on his death bed.
As one who admires Cardinal Newman, I wonder if the gay question has been at all a factor in his being passed over for canonization in recent years as scores of candidates more obscure – and in at least one case, highly debatable – have been elevated to sainthood.