John McNeill: a gay life

John McNeill: a gay life

Posted by Colm, With 0 Comments, Category: Church News, Church Reform, Latest News, LGBT, Marriage Equality Referendum,
Society of Jesus in Ireland
John McNeill and Brendan Fay

The attractive Arrupe Room in Milltown Park has seen a varied clientele of organisations gathering there for lectures or meetings. On 11 May the organisation We Are Church sponsored the showing of a documentary film there, Taking a chance on God, about a campaigner for gay rights, John McNeill.

Born in USA 90 years ago, John has had a life of struggle. He chose to enter the Jesuits and live under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but he fell in love with a gay man, with whom he still lives after 46 years. The Vatican silenced him for publishing an important study titled The church and homosexuality. After nine years of silence John resumed his campaign. He failed to persuade Cardinal Ratzinger to change church regulations or doctrine about homosexuality, and in consequence was expelled from the Jesuits by Vatican decree.

Fay’s film is a plea for the Catholic church to recognise that gay love can be holy love. It is sometimes moving, sometimes strident in a way that many gay Catholics would find uncomfortable. Strangely, it does not discuss McNeill’s vow of chastity. That is one of the many issues that had the audience arguing after the film.

Gays and lesbians may form under 2% of the adult population (US Dept of Health figures), but the church, of which they are part, still has some homework to do on their spirituality.