The long-running battle between gay-rights activists and the Vatican has moved into the realm of the dead. With 19th century Anglican convert Cardinal John Henry Newman, arguably the greatest Catholic thinker from the English-speaking world, moving ever closer to sainthood, trouble is brewing over where his final resting place should be. The London-born historian and theologian died in 1890 and, following the instructions in his will, was buried beside his lifelong friend and fellow convert Ambrose St. John, who had died 15 years earlier. Newman's deep expressions of grief after St. John's death, along with other writings, have led some historians to ask whether the two men, who resided together for many years, lived much like common-law spouses.
Newman, whose ideas on conscience and faith have influenced Christian theology to the present day, is expected to be beatified next year, following the Vatican's recent certification of a Newman miracle… he final step of canonization — full sainthood — will require proof of an additional miracle achieved through the intercession of Newman's spirit. The Vatican announced plans this month to move Newman's remains from a small grave site in the central English town of Rednal to a specially built sarcophagus in the Oratory Church of Birmingham, where, officials say, they will be more accessible to venerating faithful.
But British gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell sees ulterior motives in exhuming the Cardinal: "embarrassment" because of his relationship with St. John. "They were inseparable. They lived together for half a century, effectively like husband and wife," says Tatchell. "There were repeated allegations during [Newman's] lifetime about his circle of homosexual friends. It is uncertain whether their relationship involved sex. It is quite likely that both men had a gay orientation but chose to abstain from sexual relations. But abstinence does not alter a person's sexual orientation." Tatchell says that the two men's bond, and Newman's abiding wish to have his final resting place next to St. John's, make separating their remains "an act of dishonesty and betrayal by the homophobes in the Vatican."Read complete article:
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