Yes, please
No, thanks

Objections

donate Books CDs HOME updates search contact

There Is No Factual Evidence that
Newman Was a Homosexual



Hello,

This is a response against the article by Salwa Bachar titled “It’s Not Unreasonable to Think Newman Might Have Been Homosexual”.

The article states that “Ivereigh did not deny Newman’s alleged homosexuality, but seems to have added more fuel to the fire, saying that his “deep love” for St. John was indisputable, and that in the Victorian era “these very intense, passionate, but totally celibate relationships in Oxford and among the Anglo-Catholic community were very common."

To insinuate that these words leads to the idea that Newman was a practicing homosexual is incorrect thinking. If anything, a reasonable train of thought would be that these words, would lead one to think that Newman was not a homosexual even if he showed such tendencies.

The article suggests that “Newman had the public reputation of being effeminate,” but does not state who made this suggestion. However, by the way the article is written, it seems that you could think that the statement was made by the unknown writer(s) of the “Wikipedia article” that is cited in the article, just above the sentence. Thus, this is not a fact, rather more like a comment made by someone who we don’t know (sort of like “they said”).

Furthermore, can you really lay your trust in a Wikipedia article. In addition, assuming it is true such traits does not mean that a man is a practicing homosexual. Rather the word “effeminate” means traits considered feminine, as softness, or delicacy. There are men like this and they are not homosexuals.

The article quotes John Campbell Sharp who knew Newman at Oxford and described him as “a woman’s soul in a man’s body,” “the last Victorian definition of a male invert or homosexual.” This man was a person who liked Newman’s sermons but himself stayed protestant, even though he was influenced by Newman and the Oxford Movement.

This is Sharp’s opinion, which could be evidence that someone considered him to have homosexual tendencies, but Sharp provides no facts that proves that Newman acted on these alleged tendencies, if indeed, this one man’s opinion was the truth. In the end, Sharp provides no fact for his claim, and his comment must be thought of as one man’s opinion.

The article goes on to quote a Geoffrey Faber, who did not state a fact, but “implied in a book that the 1930s that the Oxford Movement contained a significant stream of homoeroticism”. This comment implies that the Oxford movement was some how “significantly” infested with “homoeroticism”.

Once again, this is an amazing statement, that has no facts behind it, except for what this one man “implied,” and he did not even have the guts to back up his implication with any facts, especially when he is ruining people’s reputations. Have the honest guts to tell us, Mr. Fabler, who were these people, how many were there – give us some facts Mr. Faber, rather than branding a “significant” number of people in the Oxford movement as suspicious of being “homoerotic”.

I have to admit that Newman living with one man for 32 years does seem like fuel for those that want to say that Newman was a practicing homosexual. My response to this is a defense that I read on the internet which is found here:

“But Ivereigh's judgment that it is a bit much to consider the two men as a "couple" or "partners" in the modern, homosexual sense, seems about right, even if one must also consider the possibility that they were homosexually-inclined men who shared an intense if chaste relationship,. Is there anything wrong with that?”

And:

“Nowadays there is no concept of friendship. In those days they had a concept of a loving friendship we have lost today," he said. "You no longer can say you love your friend," he said. "But in those days people spoke quite openly of their love for their friends. Is this going to get to the point when fathers no longer can say they love their daughters? It is quite horrendous the implications of this nonsense."

Also, the article states that what is written on Newman’s grave site which is “from the shadows and symbols into truth” is interpreted as proof of his homosexuality. Specially, the article comment about the grave site inscription is “Some have agreed that this inscription was a posthumous coming out, as Peter Tatchell put it.”Peter Gary Tatchell is a British human rights campaigner, originally from Australia, best known for his work with LGBT social movements. This man is hardly an unbiased observer.

Perhaps, here is where I can also make a personal comment. Of all the sermons and excerpts of sermons that I have read by Newman (which now has been over 50 and I plan to read more – and I am not claiming to be an expert on Newman’s character), I have noticed that Newman has written in more than one sermon the phrase “out of the shadows and into the truth”.

Every time that Newman has used this phrase, in his writing that I have read, Newman has been consistent in what he meant by it. Newman means that the things of this world, which many men strive for, such as, power, money, prestige, etc. are nothing but shadows and the next world (life after death) is where truth will be found. When one dies, one will leave the shadows of this world and enter into the truth. That truth may be heaven or it may be hell, but it will be truth in either place, a place where there are no longer shadows.

The article also comments that when Newman’s body remains were exhumed, they were not incorrupt, but rather “pulverized,” and this can be used as a fact that Newman should not have been canonized as a saint. This line of thinking is ridiculous. There is no infallible statement by the Catholic Church that says that if they dig up your body after you die then it needs to be uncorrupted in order for you to be a saint. My goodness, what would we do about those saints that were drawn and quartered in by the non-Catholics in England? In addition, the site that I noted above also makes a further comment on this issue.

"Brass, wooden and cloth artifacts from Cardinal Newman's coffin were found. However, there were no remains of the body of John Henry Newman. An expectation that Cardinal Newman had been buried in a lead-lined coffin proved to be unfounded. In the view of the medical and health professionals in attendance, burial in a wooden coffin in a very damp site makes this kind of total decomposition of the body unsurprising. The absence of physical remains in the grave does not affect the progress of Cardinal Newman's cause in Rome."

Furthermore, the train of thought on this issue in the article, which is that Newman was a practicing homosexual, and this fact is confirmed by God when Newman’s body was dug up and found to be “pulverized," is a convoluted and tortuous train of thought. If this is true thinking, then we all need to be listening to every word of the writer of this article because God is speaking directly to him.

In addition, as far as the article statements that Newman was not in communion with the dogma’s of the Catholic church, which are stated in the article, I am no expert in this area. However, I do know that, in the end, Newman did have obedience to Rome in everything, even if he personally could not see it. If the Catholic Church stated a dogma then Newman accepted it.

Finally, the comment by Father James Martin, “it isn’t a slur to suggest that Newman may have been gay”, seems to me to be really a slur. At best, with so little evidence Father Martin should have said “it isn’t a slur to suggest that Newman had homosexual tendencies, but there are no facts that could lead anyone to believe with the certainty of truth that Newman acted upon these tendencies 'if' he even had them.”

     Thank you for taking the time to read my response.

     R.F.


______________________

TIA responds:


Hello R.F.,

Thank you for taking the time to write your objection/refutation to Miss Salwa Bachar's article.

You stated that there is no factual evidence that Newman was a homosexual in the mentioned article. Please note the bold parts in your message, which we highlighted and were not in the original.

You selected the parts of that article that were advantageous to you.

You conveniently “forgot” two facts that speak blatantly against your thesis. To wit:
  1. "When Ambrose St. John died, Newman threw himself on the bed by the corpse and spent the night there." This is not a personal opinion of a disputable author, it was a well documented fact reported by his sympathetic biographer Wilfrid Philip Ward (here).

  2. Newman lamented that loss of Fr. Ambrose St. John saying: "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." This text is from a Newman's letter transcribed by Charles Dessain (The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Volume IX: Littlemore and the Parting of Friends May 1842 – October 1843. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons) here.


  3. These two factual evidenses were duly referred to in Bachar's article,
The fact that you avoid dealing with these two pieces of evidence of a clamorous homosexual behavior can be due to two possibilities: In your rush to save your hero, you either really forgot them or you purposely avoided these items to escape addressing those facts. In the case of the last hypothesis, your behavior could be easily classified as dishonest.

But, to be kind, let us suppose your honest intention and that you passed too quickly over the mentioned evidences.

In this case – regarding the opinions of several authors mentioned in that article that you point out – our response to you is this:

You are apparently correct. Apparently there is no factual evidence in those opinions, but there are innumerable circumstantial evidences that lead any serious person to work with the possibility that Newman was a homosexual. This is why we at TIA work with this suspicion.

We say “you are apparently correct” because when a serious author writes a book or an article, his written opinion, published and offered to the public, is already a fact. You may dispute the truth stated in that publication, but you cannot honestly say that such a book or article is mere hearsay. When you try to lessen the weight of a written opinion, you show passion and superficiality.

The many authors both for and against homosexuality who write assuming Newman was a homosexual strongly increase this suspicion. This ensemble of opinions, which you also passed lightly over, shows that you are biased in your defense. The addition of Fr. Martin’s opinion to this ensemble obviously strengthens that suspicion. But, again, you simply set aside Martin’s opinion as irrelevant…

Your position might hold up in Civil Law, where a person is considered innocent until indisputable evidence is presented of his crime. In the Catholic Church, however, a person can be condemned not only by a heresy, but also by a suspicion of heresy. Analogously, we are condemning Newman for being not a proved practicing homosexual, but as under suspicion of being a homosexual.

All this being said, let us clarify that at TIA, we do not affirm that John Henry Newman was a homosexual; we say that he could have been a homosexual. But we sustain that this suspicion is enough to shut down the process of a valid canonization.

This is our answer to your main point.

Two other facts to which you referred are not objective as well:
  1. You affirmed that the finding of Newman’s body entirely pulverized does not prove anything. You are absolutely wrong. The situation of the cadaver after death – its state of corruption, its twisted position – was a factor that was taken into serious consideration for the process of beatification or canonization.

    The fact that the body of Thomas à Kempis, author of The Imitation of Christ, was found twisted in his grave when it was opened years after his death raised the possibility that after he was buried he came back to life and went into despair. It was sufficient to stop his process of canonization, although he was a holy man and all his life was exemplary for Catholics. So, the fact that there were no remains of Newman's body should have raised analogous concerns and stopped his process of beatification.

  2. You overlook the enormous amount of evidences showing that Newman opposed the dogma of Papal Infallibility and other doctrines of the Church. Check 17 cases here.

    Card. Manning, Fr. Faber and Msgr. Talbot – conservative Catholics contemporaries of Newman – suspected one or another of Newman’s writings and teachings as liberal. Msgr. Talbot went so far as to call him “the most dangerous man in England". You also ignore these facts. See here.

    If you are concerned about the truth, you may read the stinging critique of John Henry Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine by another convert Orestes Brownson, a respected Catholic scholar faithful to Rome. He noted the best thing to do with Newman's work was to bury it because "the theory he invented was essentially anti-Catholic and Protestant." You can read a summary of the critique here.

    Contradictory, you, who are so demanding about providing proofs, forgot to give proof that he actually submitted to all the errors he defended in his life.

    You also passed quickly over the fact that all the writings of any person raised to the honor of the altars must be unquestionably orthodox. This is absolutely unsustainable in the case of Newman.
Thank you for giving us the possibility to address once again this important topic.

     Cordially,

     TIA correspondence desk

Posted March 3, 2020

______________________




______________________




Related Topics of Interest
______________________