Can a Gay Man be a Saint?

Friday, May 16, 2003



Rome has long made use of a "devil's advocate" regarding the sanctity of a person being considered for sainthood. Basically the Vatican had people whose job it was to trash the saints in order to determine if they were truly holy.

This practice arose after the time of Saint Jerome. I wonder what they would say about him if his canonization were occurring today?

The following was argued by me with a conservative Catholic literally calling gay men "fags" and saying they would go to hell if they did not change.

As further back-ground, in prior arguments, he stated Augustine and Jerome never disagreed, since saints must be of one mind. I was trying to prove that Jerome and Augustine disagreed several times about important issues like which books belong the canon. They also disagreed about how to interpret the fight between Saint Peter and Saint Paul described in Acts and in Galatians (Gal 2:11), which was interesting. Jerome agreed with my own opponent, that saints cannot disagree. Therefore, he claimed that Peter and Paul were play acting in front of the Galatians, while Augustine claimed this violated good exegesis of the text. Jerome claimed further that Augustine was denying "tradition" in saying this.

As further background, my conservative opponent never liked all the "speculation" I do, which he claimed was like an infection in the body of Christ. He stated several times said I was under the devil's influence.

Maybe Saint Augustine should have been excommunicated!

Afterall, when he was arguing with Pelegius, Pope Zosimus took the side against Augustine! So, he was not only denying the tradition as Jerome had correctly pointed it out - he was corrected by the Pope!

Furthermore, you're entirely right about Augustine's tendency to speculate and introduce all of this innovation.

"Original Sin" - who ever heard of that before Augustine? Now we can't seem to get away from this notion. It's like an infection...all this innovative speculation spread so deeply into Western theology that even the heretical Protestants believe in it!

On the other hand, Jerome denied 7 whole books of the canon! Likewise, he was known as very mean spirited guy who may have had homosexual tendencies. Maybe we shouldn't trust him either.

What's with those love letters to a guy named Rufinus?

Take a look at what he wrote:

For I who fancied it too bold a wish to be allowed by an exchange of letters to counterfeit to myself your presence in the flesh,....Oh, if only the Lord Jesus Christ would suddenly transport me to you...,with what a close embrace would I clasp your neck, how fondly would I press kisses upon that mouth which has so often joined with me of old in error or in wisdom. But as I am unworthy (not that you should so come to me but) that I should so come to you, and because my poor body, weak even when well, has been shattered by frequent illnesses; I send this letter to meet you instead of coming myself, in the hope that it may bring you hither to me caught in the meshes of love's net.

Something queer is happenning here - I always wondered about those single guys hanging out in the desert for too long....

At least we know Augie was straight.

Afterall, he had a couple of kids out of wedlock - ooops, we can't have that either.

It figures though. What else would we expect form the child of an alcoholic ( how did she become "Saint" Monica, anyway? Who let her into heaven when she was given so much to drink?)

Hmmmmmm. Whom are we going to trust?

With people like Jerome and Augustine hanging around in heaven, maybe the conservatives won't be comfortable. Should we rebuild limbo so they have place to hang out without all these other messy people?

Oooops. There I go speculating again. Limbo is not in the Bible. But hey - wasn't it in the Old Catechisms? Therefore, it must have been taught by the ordinary magisterium, so it must really exist. Right?

So, if the ordinary magisterium has established infallibly that limbo exist, the conservatives will have a place to hang out without dealing with fags like Jerome.

I calmed down and toned it down a bit after this and continued in a later post:

Another point must be made as well. All people other than Christ and our Blessed Mother have sinned. To suggest that Saint Jerome's personal struggles may have been homosexual in nature is not itself wrong.

Indeed, even if you are inclined to believe homosexual acts are always and everywhere wrong, you might argue that Saint Jerome is a model for the homosexual person in living celibate chastity after his ordination (which did not occur until he was 37 years old).

I think the passage quoted above almost speaks for itself. The passage comes from Letter 3 from the following site: New Advent

Jerome does not say he wants to greet Rufinus with a holy kiss in the passage above, as might be common in some other cultures. (This was the counter argument presented by my conservative opponents, I do not think the texts support it.)

Rather, Jerome says he is caught up in the meshes of love's net giving him a desire to see Rufinus in the flesh and press himself against him and plant multiple kisses on the mouth of Rufinus. These kisses are like the past kisses, which may have been in error or wisdom, Jerome does not know which.

What does this reference to error or wisdom mean? Is it possible that the reference to wisdom speaks of Biblical knowledge - as Adam knew Eve?

Jerome grows angry with the monk, Heliodorus, because this effiminate man did not visit him recently:

But what is this, and why do I foolishly importune you again? Away with entreaties, an end to coaxing words. Offended love does well to be angry. You have spurned my petition; perhaps you will listen to my remonstrance. What keeps you, effeminate soldier, in your father's house? Where are your ramparts and trenches? When have you spent a winter in the field? Lo, the trumpet sounds from heaven! Lo, the Leader comes with clouds! - Letter 14

This was a common theme for Jerome. Browse through the letters at Newadvent and see how frequently Jerome flies off the handle because a monk would not see him, or a man had not written him. Each letter takes the tone of a scorned lover. Yet, he never writes this passionately to women whom he writes.

When he does write about women, he clearly sees them as inferior to men.

Jerome seems to have gone to the desert in isolation to escape past sins:

As for me who am still foul with my old stains, like the basilisk and the scorpion I haunt the dry places. - Letter 7

In other places, Jerome speaks of his private struggles with lust, even in the monastic environment. So, whether he was gay or not, we know for a fact that Jerome never claimed to be perfectly chaste of heart!

What brings you, a solitary, into the throng of men? The advice that I give is that of no inexperienced mariner who has never lost either ship or cargo, and has never known a gale. Lately shipwrecked as I have been myself, my warnings to other voyagers spring from my own fears. On one side, like Charybdis, self-indulgence sucks into its vortex the soul's salvation. On the other, like Scylla, lust, with a smile on her girl's face, lures it on to wreck its chastity. - Letter 14

By the way, I will concede that the possibility that Jerome says lust has a girl's face may hint at a heterosexual orientation. However, this is the only hint of heterosexuality in all his writings, and he may have been using a common literary device.

Furthermore, this is an age of married priests, so one has to ask why he chooses celibacy when he struggles so much with lust and Paul says it is better to marry than to be on fire (a verse one so familiar with the Bible would certainly know).

Jerome hints again that his sins were homosexual in nature in his letter to Theodosius asking for readmission to a community of single men living the anchorite life:

I am the prodigal son who although I have squandered all the portion entrusted to me by my father, have not yet bowed the knee in submission to him; not yet have I commenced to put away from me the allurements of my former excesses. And because it is only a little while since I have begun not so much to abandon my vices as to desire to abandon them, the devil now ensnares me in new toils, he puts new stumbling-blocks in my path, be encompasses me on every side. - Letter 14

What allurement of former excess and vice is Jerome speaking about? Why was Jerome driven out of the community?

Is it possible that Jerome grew into celibacy over the course of his 75 year life-span from a homosexual orientation and perspective, and this is what he was referring to?

I would argue that it is not only possible, but based on Jerome's own words and the way his life played out, I would argue that the evidence points to it being highly probable.

For further exploration of this topic, even considering a type of gay union, see my further thoughts on homosexuality and Supreme Court Rules on Gay Issues

Peace and Blessings!

Readers may contact me at


posted by Jcecil3 2:43 PM

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