Thursday, July 16, 2009

L'Osservatore on Oscar Wilde - 'Non e solo un'icona gay'

L'Osservatore Romano had an unsurprisingly positive article on Oscar Wilde yesterday and the British press is perplexed. The article by Andrea Monda is titled "Quando Oscar Wilde incontrĂ² Pio IX" (When Oscar Wilde met Pius IX) and was a review of a book on Wilde by Paolo Gulisano called "Il ritratto di Oscar Wilde", ie., "The Portrait of Oscar Wilde."

A couple of bits translated in an article by The Daily Mail:
L'Osservatore Romano wrote: 'Oscar Wilde was a man constantly looking for the beautiful and the good, but also for a God that he never challenged, respected and who he fully embraced after his dramatic experience of jail, concluding with his communion in the Catholic Church.'

Monda also noted how Dublin-born Wilde had said that 'Catholicism was the only religion to die in' and also recalled his little remembered audience with Pope Pius IX in 1877.

Before the meeting with the Pope, Protestant-born Wilde had said to a friend: 'To go over to Rome would be to sacrifice and give up my two great Gods: Money and Ambition.'

But the audience is believed to have paved the way for his eventual conversion, especially after the Pope told him to 'undertake a journey through life which would take him to the City of God.'

L'Osservatore Romano added: 'Wilde represents a mystery that has yet to be fully revealed. One needs to dig deeper and in doing so a profound religion.'

It went on: 'The existential path which Oscar Wilde trod can also be seen as a long and difficult path toward that Promised Land, which gives us the reason for existence, a path which led him to his conversion to Catholicism, a religion which, as he once said in one of his more acute and paradoxical aphorisms, was "for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do".'

All pretty straight forward and nothing to surprise any literate, English-speaking Catholic. Wilde's work and his journey have been appreciated and studied by Catholics for years. And the sordid details of his life do not send Catholics running, but only further endear him to us as they manifest the beautiful and unexpected workings of grace and give hope.

But when your mind only contains political categories and slogans and cannot fathom the wideness and variety that the Catholic mind does, you treat this story as the Daily Mail did:
Given his homosexual tendencies and the Catholic Church's strict view of homosexuality, the fact that it had now embraced him was all the more surprising. . .

Pope Benedict XVI's views on gays are well-known and last year he caused outrage by saying that 'homosexuality is as much of a threat to the survival of the human race as climate change'.

News of the Vatican's embrace of Wilde was immediately picked up by several gay Italian websites such as Queer Blog Gay News - who headlined the story 'The Catholics want to take Wilde'.

Or the Times:
In life, he was about as likely a Catholic hero as Pontius Pilate. Now, more than a century after his death, Oscar Wilde has been claimed by The Vatican as one of its own.

Wilde, who died in 1900 after finding God and converting to Roman Catholocism on his deathbed, has long been regarded by the Vatican as a dissolute homosexual who was sentenced and imprisoned for acts of gross indecency over his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. . .

Pope Benedict XVI, a vehement opponent of gay marriages or civil unions, has reinforced Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a disorder. Men “with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” are banned from training for the priesthood under Vatican rules. On the other hand the Pope has often belied his reputation as a dogmatic hardliner since his election four years ago, for example devoting his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, to spiritual and physical love.

Literature, longing, demons, desire, truth, redemption, grace, beauty, wisdom, suffering, humor, joy, life and death - all boil down to where you stand on same-sex marriage for the very small minds in secular journalism.

The full text of the L'Or article in Italian is here.