Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Proustian madeleine


Rev. Brian Clough was hurriedly fired as Rector of St. Augustine’s [Seminary] because of his “soft” attitude to homosexuality at the seminary just before the Pope’s arrival... [in Canada in 1984].

I find this fascinating. Fr Clough was my last parish priest as a Roman Catholic and though he obviously ultimately failed to reconcile me to the Roman Catholic Church, he was pastorally sensitive. I hardly think he was a dissident on the gay issue, though he didn't seem inclined to refuse the Sacrament to homosexuals. He acknowledged that Dignity, while "not the most Catholic organization," was made up of people "trying hard to be Catholics, and the Church doesn't turn away people who try." I'm not sure whether he was more nonplussed by my membership in Dignity or in Una Voce. (I sometimes wonder if I was the only Roman Catholic ever to belong to both).

Fr Clough is still at the sleepy residential parish where I grew up, and still Judicial Vicar (chief disciplinarian) of the Archdiocese of Toronto. He did bar a retired priest of the Scarborough Missions from celebrating Mass publicly or preaching when he spoke in favour of same-sex marriage as a private citizen. (His order did not similarly discipline him, so he was able to function within it as before). I would not have thought that he was "soft" on homosexuality - indeed he spoke plainly that as rector he had had to dismiss seminarians for "acting out" with members of both sexes. But he wasn't an asshole, and I wonder if that was enough to be characterized as "soft" in the hype building up to the first papal visit to our country.

1 comment:

Davis said...

They rarely think these things through. Strange as the Roman Catholic Church prides herself in being so thorough.