For the 100 or so theologians, members of the clergy, women religious, students and others who braved the heavy snow Oct. 29 to attend “The Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry” conference at Jesuit-run Fairfield University, the day was packed densely with history, stories and plenty of questions. It was the final event of a four-part series of talks titled “More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church.”
The series aimed at expanding the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues within the Catholic church. “Unfortunately, any speech about Catholicism, sexuality and clerical power is so vexed, so scandalous, that I can’t begin the meditation without underlining three more cautions against misunderstanding,” said the first speaker, Mark Jordan, a professor of divinity at Harvard University Divinity School.
“First, I’ll be talking about the configuration of power in relation to sexuality within ecclesial systems, not about all of the individual lives under those systems. It is, of course, possible to lead a Christian life of unstinting love, of vivid witness, of embodied grace under the present system of Roman power,” Jordan said.
“Second caution: I want to talk about this clerical power as homoerotic. By this I don’t mean to imply anything about the sexual acts, real or fantasized, of those who participate in this power,” he said.
“This form of clerical power seems to me the object, and the instrument, of sharp longing, of desire. “Third and final caution: I speak of the configuration of homoerotic power in the Roman Catholic clergy at particular times and places. There are partial repetitions across church history, I think, and there are striking structural similarities across church cultures in a given time. But if we know anything about the Catholic church, it is that it is not one thing. It is a complex network of thousands of different communities.”
Link (here) to The National Catholic Reporter.
Mark Jordan taught previously at the University of Notre Dame and at Emory University. His interests include the rhetoric of Christian ethics, the history of sex and gender, the limits of theological language, and the ritual creation of religious identities. His books include The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (1997), winner of the 1999 John Boswell Prize for lesbian and gay history; The Ethics of Sex (2002); Telling Truths in Church: Scandal, Flesh, and Christian Speech (2003); Rewritten Theology: Aquinas after His Readers (2006); and Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality (2011).