An Edifying Debate: Is It Ethical to Be Catholic: Queer Perspectives

In the last few years I have been reading some Rene Girard, which led me to the British theologian James Alison. Alison, a Girardian, Catholic, and gay, makes for an intriguing vortex of thought. I certainly appreciated his On Being Liked.

In analyzing his thought, I came across a lecture/debate series held at the University of San Fransisco, titled, "Is it Ethical to Be Catholic: Queer Perspectives." You need to devote about an hour and a half to watching its 15 video segments on youtube.

While some would prefer the conversation be held around the question, "is it ethical to be queer," I find this conversation to be particularly provocative when also analogously applied to Protestants who have considered ecumenical engagement with the Catholic Church: how is one to think about or participate in a Church against which one holds apparent disagreements--be they in the interpretation of nature/biology/sexuality or in papacy/structural/hierarchical questions?

The conversation gets especially interesting not just when the second interlocutor disagrees staunchly with Alison but when Alison interprets a significant shift in the reading of biology/sex/love in pope Benedict's encyclical Deus Est Caritas. Alison sees "Papa-Ratzi" calling an end to the Paul VI styled anthropology (Humane Vitae) which inherently links unitive sex with procreation, and instead takes a descriptive (not prescriptive!) reading of Genesis. Benedict even goes to bring Plato's Symposium into the interpretation of Genesis. In general, Benedict is thereby beginning to allow discourse of "normative, healthy sexuality" into the realm of the sciences and not simply scriptural interpretation.