From now on, the future issues of the Quest Bulletin will be on open access. The main publication of Quest for its members, it will serve the spiritual needs of anyone who may find it useful and helpful - to proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ so as to sustain and increase Christian belief among homosexual men and women [Quest's Purpose].
The file can be downloaded and viewed on a computer screen or tablet, or printed out. It is full-text searchable and easy to archive.
Quest Bulletin 67 (PDF) download
Tony Di Mambro
Keith Sharpe, The Gay Gospels: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People. ISBN 978-1-84694-548-9.
Throughout the last 7000 years, the Bible has been written about and interpreted by scholars, saints and religious people, with wide variations of meaning and differing opinions of what each text means. Arguments and discussions continue as to whether a meaning has been altered or lost in translation and how that affects the teaching of Christian faiths. Among the most contentious Bible interpretations are those related to homosexuality. There have been more condemnations of same-sex activity “on behalf of the faithful”’ from those who have claimed have our planet’s best interests at heart, especially since the 19th century. Unfortunately, most people who challenge the traditional beliefs often receive condemnation, excommunication threats or suppressed and muted support from the higher echelons of the Vatican or Lambeth Palace. It has been forward thinking authors and theologians like James Alison, John J. McNeil and Gareth Moore who have taken the initiative to discuss the relevant ‘anti-gay’ scriptures, now nicknamed ‘terror texts,’ that supposedly allow nearly all the Christian religions to prohibit, condemn and outlaw active same-sex relationships.
In Keith Sharpe’s book his viewpoint as an activist and gay Christian comes across as someone who is determined to argue, fight and convince even the ‘arch-conservative brigade,’ who seemingly refuse to listen or consider that their traditionally taught beliefs could be wrong. He advocates alternative ways of interpreting the terror texts rather than resigning himself to further oppression and repressive thinking within the Christian institutions. Read more…
There is an ancient story from the early Church of a woman who visited the Desert Fathers and confessed that she was assaulted by terrible temptations, which often overwhelmed her. A holy monk asked her how long it had been since she last received Communion. She answered that it was several months since she last received the Holy Eucharist. Whereupon the monk replied, “Try not eating for several months and then return and tell me how you feel!” From that day the woman started to receive communion regularly.
The Gospel readings for the third week of Easter (15th-20th April) find their source in chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, in the verses that follow the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish on a hillside close to the Sea of Galilee. In the evening, Jesus crossed to the other side of the sea and entered the synagogue at Capernaum where, the next day, he began a lengthy discourse on the bread of life: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” Read more…
We begin Lent on Wednesday 13th February. The liturgy of the day presents us with a proposal that is simple, direct and personal, as it needs to penetrate the many habits and convictions in that jungle of defences and mistrust which, consciously or unconsciously, we construct: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” It comes also with a personal invitation: “Come back to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). We should take Lent seriously for it is the season when the Lord calls us to a deep rupture within our thoughts and with our lifestyle. Returning to God and repenting begin with looking at ourselves and not running away from the endless justifications that make us always feel right; a true humility for people so often deformed by the euphoria of abundance and the pride of one’s ego.
We need to repent and return in order to be forgiven, old and marked by sin as we are. We need to repent and return because only hearts free from evil can disassociate themselves from war and convey peace in a world accustomed to violence, which deludes itself into thinking it can live with hatred and does not know how to seek justice and peace. We need to repent and return in order to be clothed with the dignity lost pursuing practical consumerism, which does not oppose God openly but to which we grant so much room. Read more…
Kevin Kelly. 50 Years Receiving Vatican II: A Personal Odyssey. ISBN 1856077772.
The task of reviewing books for the Quest Bulletin has, over the years, been nothing if not interesting. A number of very good books have passed through my hands, as have a number of rather poor books. Some books I have been able to recommend wholeheartedly, others I have been unable to recommend. There was even one book I recently reviewed where I preferred not to take any position, leaving it up to the reader of the review to decide whether, on the basis of my review, he/she should purchase and/or read the book. All in all, the experience of reviewing books has been a very pleasant one.
The present book does, however, present me with some difficulty. Not, I hasten to add, that I am intending to present an unfavourable review – on the contrary. I very much enjoyed reading the book. Writing the review, however, is another issue altogether. How does one review a book which covers a personal journey over the past fifty years in forty very disparate chapters plus Introduction? Read more…
Rev. Dr. Bernárd J. Lynch
Richard Wagner. Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex in the Catholic Church: The Systematic Destruction of an Oblate Priest. ISBN 978-1-61098-212-2
Jesus tells us “The truth shall set you free.” What he forgot to add ‘It shall also crucify you.’ Richard Wagner would have done well to know this before he set out on the perilous and dangerous study of Gay Catholic Priests: A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance. I have been aware of this study from the early eighties. Nothing had been published before then (1981) concerning the sexual attitudes or behaviours of Catholic priests serving in public ministry. The veil of secrecy surrounding this vocation, as well as the presumption that priests are celibate, has provided a camouflage for the sexually active priest. As this study illustrates, this situation is not without its negative consequences. The sexually active priest is faced with a paradox. The same circumstances that guarantee secrecy also perpetuate the need for secrecy.
There is a sizable segment of the clergy population that is gay and these men are forced to live duplicitous lives of repression in secret. This often creates an atmosphere of extreme isolation and loneliness that can and does drive these men to desperate measures to find emotional and moral support they should be receiving from their Church. These men love their Church, but hate what it is doing to them. As bad as the situation was back in the early eighties, it is worse today. Read more…
Around fifty people attended this year’s Quest Conference – Sixty Glorious Years, 31st August to 2nd September – at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, Ditchingham, near the appropriately named Bungay in Suffolk. This year’s speakers were Terry Weldon, well-known for his blog “Queering the Church”, and Dr Bart Smith, Quest’s Secretary.
Terry is a former market researcher, teacher and librarian with a strong interest in the history of gay men and lesbians in the Church. His talk – “Blessed are the Queer in Faith, for they shall inherit the Church” – covered developments in theology and understanding of Queer issues across the sixty years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, beginning in 1952. The struggle for recognition and acceptance has taken place in many of the major churches across the world, including the Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist churches and the Metropolitan Community Church founded by the Reverend Troy Perry after he was ‘outed’. Unsurprisingly, the Catholic Church did not feature in the list of the enlightened with regard to allowing openly gay clergy, acceptance of civil unions/equal marriage, etc. Read more…
When Elizabeth II ascended the throne on 6 February 1952 life for lesbians and gay men in the UK was no bed of roses. Although same-sex acts between women were not illegal, lesbianism was ignored by society. Under legislation dating back to the Victorian era and before, sex between men was illegal: the laws governing this had not been particularly rigorously enforced during World War II but any who thought these were a dead letter would soon receive a rude awakening.
From early 1952 there followed a series of prosecutions of gay men for man-on-man sex (under the umbrella terms of gross indecency, importuning for immoral purposes and indecent assault), ensuring that these terms and lurid descriptions of what had taken place (obtained from reports of court proceedings regurgitated in the press) would enter the public consciousness, giving the populace a distorted view of sex between men and giving an impression that it was corrupt, distasteful and sordid. High-profile names ‘outed’ as a result of legal proceedings included the pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, found guilty of gross indecency in 1952; Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and journalist Peter Wildeblood, in 1954 convicted and imprisoned for conspiracy to incite acts of gross indecency (the first use of the charge since the trials of Oscar Wilde); actor John Gielgud, playwright Joe Orton, impresario Joe Meek (the man behind the 1962 hit Telstar by the Tornados, the first single by a British group to reach Number One in the US charts), and Wilfred Brambell (Steptoe ‘senior’), all found guilty of ‘cottaging’. Names in the public domain were not the only ones to be convicted: there were numerous local purges on gays in the 1950s such as in Evesham, Worcestershire in April 1956 when eleven men from the ages of 17 to 81 were accused of crimes including gross indecency, all reported in the local press in gruesome detail. Three of the accused never made it to court: one gassed himself, another committed suicide by jumping in front of a train and a third suffered a serious stroke from which he never recovered. Read more…
James Alison, Laurence Freeman & Denis McAuliffe. The Shape of God’s Affection (6 CDs). Details | Available from Contemplative Life and MedioMedia
This is a remarkable collection of six compact discs, remarkable not just for the fact that the listener is treated to more than five hours of talks by James Alison – always a great pleasure in my opinion – but that one disc, the fifth, is solely devoted to issues related to being gay and Christian. The final disc is a dialogue between James and Laurence Freeman, moderated by Denis McAuliffe. The talks were given at the John Main Seminar held at Canterbury in August 2010, an annual event sponsored by the World Community for Christian Meditation. The seminar is invariably led by a presenter of global stature, bringing Christian meditators together with other groups and communities.
In the 2010 seminar James speaks to the essential mysteries of the Christian faith following the theme of creation, death and resurrection and the Eucharist in refreshing and stimulating ways. Each talk is divided into easily digested segments, allowing the listener/meditator to pause and reflect at the end of each section; invaluable to anyone who has had the experience of either reading James’s many published works or who has heard him ‘live’. Read more…
During the past year, the national committee has been keen to canvas views from among members and supporters as to how Quest should respond to challenges presented by a more modern age. We have approached this in two ways, one being the survey that went out in the last bulletin and the other was a relatively brief workshop at this year’s conference.
The survey has brought us 53 responders, 42 online and 11 by post which out of 200 or more potential responders is a more than reasonable return. Roughly three quarters who responded were men, which reflects the current makeup of our membership but which is something which the committee will continue to address. The large majority of responders were ‘cradle Catholic’, although some of the male responders were converts. A third of the men who replied were not open in their parish and a quarter did not belong to a parish at the moment. A third of the men were involved in ministry during Mass with some involved in other activities but for about half this didn’t apply. Interestingly, those who were active in their parish life were mostly not out and more were out to friends than they were their parish priest. All this was equally true for women. Read more…