Sunday, 20 November 2011

Brian Sewell (3): Catholicism in the frame

The extract from Brian Sewell's autobiography published in the London Evening Standard - Sex life of Brian Sewell: Story of my 1000 lovers - gains its prurience from the catalogue of promiscuous gay encounters that form the last two-thirds or so of the extract. A certain piquancy is added by the inclusion of reference to Roman Catholicism in the first two paragraphs, with the effect of placing Catholicism in the frame of the reader's perception alongside a promiscuous homosexuality.

Now, it should be clear from any reading of the London Evening Standard extract that Brian Sewell had abandoned entirely his practise of Catholicism in his turn towards promiscuity. In that sense, there is a lot of very clear water - a wide ocean of it, in fact - between Roman Catholicism and the lifestyle that Brian Sewell describes in the latter part of the extract.
...I had found chastity of the imagination impossible to achieve, and that this, now more turbulent than ever, was separating me from the Church. ... I returned to Phillimore Place with no further thought of Mass and have not since been a communicant.
But the first two paragraphs of the London Evening Standard extract give rise to the question as to how realistic is the possibility that Brian Sewell, had he not taken a turn towards promiscuity, might have been ordained as a Catholic priest. The first part of this question is about how realistic Brian Sewell's own intention was. The published extract does not allow us to answer this part of the question - we need to wait until we can read the earlier parts of the book, and perhaps bear in mind that we should be a little wary of relying on Brian Sewell's own perception. The other part of the question is one about whether or not a diocese or religious order would have accepted Brian Sewell for training had be put himself forward. Today, this latter would be covered by the provisions of the Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, which expect an affective maturity in accordance with Catholic teaching of candidates for the ordination: 
... this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called "gay culture".
Independently of his homosexual tendencies, but not without some connection to them, Brian Sewell would in all probability not meet the requirement of affective maturity.

There is a final manner in which the London Evening Standard extract puts Catholicism in the frame of public perception, though the extract does not enable a conclusion to be drawn. As already noted above, Brian Sewell rejected Catholicism in turning towards homosexual promiscuity. But how far was his previous experience of Catholic life - on his own admission a dry and unconvinced experience - a part of Brian Sewell's disposition towards homosexual activity?

1 comment:

catholic gay man said...

i dont agree... i think brian sewell probably would have been considered a suitable candidate for the priesthood given he was celibate for a very long time during the earlier part of his life and was not frequenting the gay scene - this being interpreted as being affectively mature.

of course, another lot of people might consider that he is affectively mature now that he has embraced his sexuality - his proscuity could further be interpreted as making up for lost time or the over-exuberance of repressed sexuality being assertively expressed!