Friday, December 16, 2005

Brokeback Mountain, Catholic Edition

So the gay cowboy movie goes wide today. And of course I'll go see it -- if conservatives can believe that God's commentary on the human condition can be gleaned by watching penguins, pigeons, whatever, then I can believe that two actual, real, live human beings can do the job even better, thank you very much.

However, before the (Free Republican) Catholic people go bonkers on the rest of the world, they really need to look into the mirror. Because, in this church, this is nothing new -- and if you're going to be on the bus, then you've gotta take ownership of its history. Not to mention that these things happened in the "glory days," when "God's Mass" was the only one there was and 95% of the faithful attended it, there was no dissent, Americanism was the devil and everybody wore cassocks, the tiara was still relevant and the cappa magna was in regular use, etc. I could on, but you get the idea....

With that said, I turn you to an especially curious exchange of letters between two American prelates of the period. Taken from Marvin O'Connell's John Ireland and the American Catholic Church, (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988), here's a snip of the very friendly relationship of words which existed between Fr Thomas O'Gorman, who was on the cusp of becoming the bishop of Sioux Falls, and Msgr. Denis O'Connell, Rector of (of all places) the Pontifical North American College.
"And O'Gorman went to Sioux Falls, though not immediately. In the interval the good impression he created in Rome during the summer sojourn of 1894 ultimately played its part in his promotion. Certainly, O'Gorman favorably impressed Denis O'Connell. These two most feisty and outspoken of the Americanists, only casual acquaintances before, traveled to southern France together and then shared some curiously intimate correspondence. 'On leaving you at Avignon,' O'Gorman wrote from Brussels, 'loneliness took seat by my side. . . . Of all the memories of this summer -- and some of them make me vain -- the sweetest is now and ever shall be the trip with you to Avignon and Laura's grave.' O'Connell sent in reply one of his gossipy letters, which had in it a reference to [apostolic delegate to the US' Francesco] Satolli's doubtful parentage and which concluded on a somewhat unconventional note: 'Poor dear little lamb that you are, lamenting your lost innocent [sic] because you came to Rome. What a sweet dear little fox you became in a few days and just as natural if you had been born one.'"
So the NAC people were "gossipy" even then. And yet again, Sioux Falls awaits a new bishop. Hmm. Some things never change.