Are Most Young Male Anglo-Catholics Gay? And does it matter if they are?

OK, it made a great title in the Daily Mail/Express tradition of the answer being “no”. But according to this blog, the answer is “yes”.

Frankly I don’t care whether any given person is gay or not. I care more about the football team they support in some ways – as the evidence that somebody is a Man Utd fan will always make it harder to have genuine, selfless, Christian love for them. But let’s suppose it’s true.

I believe in “One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church”. And I tend to regard “Catholic” in this sense as being for all people and nuns, regardless of race, gender, sexual inclinations and taste in icons. So if there is a genuine shortage of heterosexual male Anglo-Catholics, and this dearth has been ongoing – for the article implies that this situation has always been, since Anglos first became Catholics – then the implication is that to be Anglo-Catholic is to be other than Catholic. For a tradition that, for whatever reason, excludes a sizable chunk of the population, can surely not be Catholic. It can only be a part-of-the-whole-story-that-makes-up-Catholic.

Just a thought. Maybe somebody can put me right?

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9 thoughts on “Are Most Young Male Anglo-Catholics Gay? And does it matter if they are?

  1. Interesting question! I think it does matter to the extent that I am always horrified when people who have experienced discrimination discriminate in turn. And considering that many traditional Anglo-Catholics are opposed to women priests I do think it is worth noting that they do not seem to understand that you can dress any discrimination up as “theology” to make it look respectable.

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  2. Not sure of the answer. None of the Anglo-Catholics that I know, don’t go on about sexuality and just get on with being Anglo-Catholic and living their lives,some working, some not. Some married, some not. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t ask them about their sexuality because it doesn’t matter to me, nor to them. They don’t ask me about my sexuality either, which is more than can be said for the intrusive questioning of the discernment process that the church follows.

    And I don’t know any ManU supporters apart from all of my grand children, but I know that they are easily influenced, when local teams such as Dartford or Erith and Belvedere are much more relevant to them and affordable, while ManU is completely unaffordable.

    Bit like you question really. 🙂

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  3. Not sure of the answer? I have read this blog a few times now and I can’t work out what the question is. In my experience Anglo-Catholics do not spend their time speculating on sexual orientation.
    I have met many young Anglo-Catholic men who are not gay but being a traditional Anglo-Catholic I observe the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” tradition so I refuse on principle to name young Anglo-Catholic men who are not gay.

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  4. Evelyn Waugh long ago had an older relative caution the young man to avoid the Anglo-Catholics at Oxford, because they were sodomites with unpleasant accents in Bride’s Head Revisited. I long pondered the incongruity between a movement divided between gay men and highly-conservative people — however, at times these are blended, as in the case of an Anglo-Catholic church in Baltimore which hosted literature from both Forward in Faith as well as literature about gay rights. The rector was openly gay. Don’t ask, don’t tell, may still be the mantra for Anglo-Catholics. But, signs of the time, suggest that many Anglo-Catholics have read the signs of the time. There is an Anglo-Catholic Church in Washington state, everything very well done, but the thing was the priest is a woman.

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  5. Anything disproportionately gay/lesbian is automatically and intrinsically marginalized. Why bother with the marginalized? If the clergy of a church/church party are known for being disproportionately gay/lesbian, it will become irrelevant, of about as much interest as the Muggletonians or Universalists.

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  6. I am the writer of the blog quoted. And I can safely say in my experience of Anglo-Catholicism the vast majority of male Anglo-Catholics are gay. Indeed I’ve heard of great hardships that some young Anglo-Catholic women go through these days to try and find an eligible young Anglo-Catholic man. Now this may just be my experience of worshipping in London and ‘shrine’ churches but it does seem to be the general consensus. Indeed that post was inspired by what a priest said to me, and it troubled him a great deal.

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    • Bishop William Wantland, Bishop of Eua Clair (USA/retired), and sometimes assisting bishop in the diocese of Fort Worth (TX/USA), maintains that because the priest at the altar represents Jesus, and the congregation His bride, a female in this position constitutes a lesbian relationship. In the meantime, one of the historically largest diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, Chicago, is openly supportive of gay clergy, and in the parlance of The Wizard of Oz, the official policy is “come-out, come-out, wherever you are.”

      On Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 4:09 PM, A Reflex Anglican wrote:

      > Connor McNeill commented: “I am the writer of the blog quoted. And I > can safely say in my experience of Anglo-Catholicism the vast majority of > male Anglo-Catholics are gay. Indeed I’ve heard of great hardships that > some young Anglo-Catholic women go through these days to try and fi” >

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  7. There are certainly a lot of gay men in Anglo-Catholicism. This has been since the case since the earliest days of the movement. In Percy Dearmer’s time at St Mary’s, Primrose Hill, at the start of the 20th Century, comment was made about the immaculately dressed and rather artistic young bachelors with every nuance of ritual learned off by heart. When I remarked to an elderly gay parishioner at St George’s in Belfast about how much of our recent growth had come from LGBT people, he said (and I quote), “Well nothing’s changed son, for this place has always been a nest of homosexuals.”

    Anglo-Catholic Churches provided a social network for gay men back in the days of arrests and sackings for those found out to be homosexual. In Central London, they were a natural gravitating point for young gay men recently arrived from the provinces, seeking congenial and respectable company. In doing so, they poured grace into the lives of countless thousands in dark times. In provincial towns the gays were usually a lower proportion of the congregation but the social role the churches filled was even more vital. This, incidentally did not prevent plenty of conventionally married heterosexuals attending; the majority of Anglo-Catholic parishioners even in Central London.

    The great liberation of gays from the late 1980s removed this social function from Anglo-Catholicism, but that hardly explains most of the decline. Especially at a time when other institutions dominated by gay men have become attractive to straight people as never before. Why, in the era of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, did the longest established bastion of conventional gay respectability enter into serious decline?

    Let me posit three alternative sources of decline. One, rapid changes in English culture (and I’m using the word English deliberately). What had been a stiff, hierarchical, emotionally dry and deferential culture rapidly changed into an emoting, undeferential and individualistic one. For the rising generation of upper-middle class people (always the backbone of the C of E) from around 1975-1985 on, Charismatic Evangelicalism with its intense emotional expression and individualism was more immediately appealing. Nobody needed our gentle safety valve for usually checked emotions anyomore: suddenly it was OK for everyone to emote. Adding to that, Anglo-Catholics rarely did modern musical styles and, when they did, they didn’t usually do them well. Meanwhile, the working-classes, always the backbone of Anglo-Catholicism, just abandoned organised religion altogether. White working-class people basically just don’t go to church anymore. It’s just as true for indigenous working-class Roman Catholicism and Nonconformity as for Anglo-Catholics.

    The second: Vatican II. Before Vatican II, one knew what Rome believed, and one knew where on the Anglo-Catholic spectrum one stood depending on how much one agreed with Rome. Then everything changed. Anglo-Catholic liturgy, overnight, became ultramontane in comparison with Novus Ordo. Many Anglo-Catholic parishes, especially those that would later become aligned with FiF, adopted the Novus Ordo wholesale despite the fact that it’s an ugly, banal, liturgy almost guaranteed to banish the sense of the numinous from worship. Parishes that would later become AffCath were usually enthusiasts for Anglican liturgical renewal, which basically followed the same path as Vatican II although the standard of liturgy both on the page and as done in church tended to be higher. But we lost our sense of the numinous in doing our best to make the Mass something that was perfectly explicable to well-educated middle-class people. (It isn’t.)

    All sorts of things went out the window at that point. Parishioners became much less inclined to keep Holy Days, and priests started keeping them on Sundays (after all, the Romans do it). The practice of auricular confession underwent astonishing decline, and priests stopped explaining why it was important. Basic forms of physical prayer (blessing oneself, genuflecting, etc.) were no longer explained or formally encouraged and went into decline. Slowly, parish by parish, the Daily Office stopped being said daily and midweek masses became less frequent. We just lost our mojo and stopped teaching the Faith. It was no surprise that people stopped finding Anglo-Catholicism attractive; we showed every sign we’d stopped finding it attractive ourselves.

    Vatican II also, for a few brief years in the 1960s, held out a realistic prospect of rapid corporate reunion with Rome. That bewitched many Anglo-Catholics for decades after it became clear that it wasn’t realistic after all. That meant that too many people on both wings of Anglo-Catholicism, and actually right into the middle of the C of E, copied Roman innovations that were stupid ideas, in the hope that we were all going to be reunited very soon anyway. (One example: why did we introduce responsorial psalms? Nobody sings them properly and they basically ensure nobody learns the psalms properly. Anglican chant is a lot better…)

    But, more seriously, the prospect of reunion with Rome was one of the reasons why traditionalist Anglo-Catholics spent decades being incapable of meaningfully responding to the move towards, and eventual implementation of, the priesting of women. That’s a third source of decline: The Great War About Women Priests and consequent divide in the movement. Like all civil wars, this got nasty. I’m very clearly on the liberal side of that divide and I’m not going to get a he said/she said argument about the last 25 years, but suffice to say *some* people on the conservative side of the argument habitually behaved abominably towards women priests. Consumed with The Great War, too many FiF parishes retreated into worshipping the Forward In Faith candle and attacking the rest of the C of E. Too many AffCath parishes drifted off towards a middle-church Anglicanism that had moved some ways up the candle. The Catholicising of the Central Tradition was one of the great achievements of the Anglo-Catholic movement, but too often it reduced Catholicism to wearing vestments and having a 10.30 am Eucharist instead of Mattins. And then the Central Tradition went into steep decline anyway.

    Now the Great War is over. The liberals won, as they were always going to, but at the end of it the C of E has declined enormously and become considerably more Protestant. We spent enormous energy, over decades, fighting to get a few rubrics in the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Church, and when we succeeded, a significant part of the Church stopped using liturgy.

    I’d guess, now the war is over, we need to make peace, forgive one another, love one another and get on with building the kingdom. There are growing, dynamic, churches with Resolutions in place and there are growing, dynamic, churches with good Catholic women incumbents. All the ones I can think of accept that the war is over, and they are still in the minority, but I get a sense of things turning a corner. Our big problem is that most of these churches are either in upper-middle class areas or student areas attached universities dominated by the products of independent schools; or in areas with large numbers of people of Black Caribbean or Ghanaian origin. In the broad mass of white, working- to lower-middle class, England that represents about 75% of the population, people barely know we exist and don’t see why they should care if we don’t. Old Anglo-Catholic heartlands – Lancashire, South & SW Yorkshire, the Newcastle-Middlesborough corridor – have seen church attendance fall off a cliff.

    We need to start working together, across the liberal-traditionalist divide, because there just aren’t enough of us left not to. And I think we need to go back to the roots of our faith – the centrality of the Incarnation and what that says about the value of every human being. The Holy Week path: from the gift of the Mass through the agony of the Cross towards Resurrection; and, yes, the importance and potentially life-changing power of the Confessional.

    That’s a slightly random jumble of thoughts late on a Friday night and some of it must be rubbish. But I hope it’s more useful than “we’re doomed because none of the gays will become monks now because they’re allowed to have sex”.

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