As I expected, my remarks on Perry Lorenzo have stirred up both hornets and butterflies. Some of the commentary is quite beautiful (particularly from people who knew and remember Perry for the wonderful guy he was). Brings back memories.
Other commentary has been more negative (sometimes due to my inexact wording, sometimes due to good questions and concerns (many of which I cannot answer since I am not a confessor or spiritual director, so I would refer you here for some good solid Dominican common sense), sometimes due to people making unwarranted assumptions, and sometimes due to to people being abusive jerks who hate me, or gays, or both).
I want to address briefly the inexact wording (my bad) and the unwarranted assumptions, since they are related. The main thing I want to point out is that when I describe Perry as a gay man, I am using the common English word as a descriptor of his orientation (which I know) not his behavior (about which I knew nothing since, you know, Not. My. Business). Some people are assuming a huge amount here. Here’s all I know (which I only learned after his death):
Paul Hearn of Seattle, Mr. Lorenzo’s longtime companion, said they met when Mr. Lorenzo gave a lecture at the University of Washington 13 years ago. Though Hearn was not Catholic, their first date was to St. James, he said.
Hearn said Mr. Lorenzo brought him to the Catholic Church and broadened his appreciation of opera.
The two would pray together and do morning liturgies. “We were monks in love,” he said.
For this reason, my assumption is that the relationship was chaste, though I wouldn’t really know since, you know, Not My Business.
My point was not really to comment on the details of Perry’s private life, but to say that given what I knew of his love of Christ and the Church, I had and have absolutely no reason to think that his sexual orientation was determinative of his life as a disciple of Jesus. All I saw of the man was abundant fruits of the Spirit. That he struggled with sin as we all do is a no brainer (but, by the same token, I have no idea if his orientation was regarded by him as among his struggles. I have problems which are, for me subjectively, annoyances but not huge trials which are, for others, all-consuming battles of the spirit. It may be, for all I know, that his orientation was not much of a trial for him. Not everybody is obsessed with sex and can embrace chastity with relative ease.)
Some people are writing me, assuming all sorts of things about him “giving scandal”. I see nothing scandalous. He loved somebody chastely as far as I can tell. Others are telling me I had a duty to “confront” him. Um, I didn’t know he had a companion till after his death and I have no idea what I should have confronted him about if I had known. Was I to bark, “Stop loving him”? Demand to know the details of their relationship? It’s one thing for somebody to *give* scandal. It’s rather another to go around poking one’s nose into somebody’s life in order to work hard at *taking* scandal. Seems rather at odds with the gospel. Should I have told him, “Random self-appointed inquisitors in my comboxes are scandalized by what they salaciously imagine your private life might be, so, um, you need to do something about that.” I’m frankly much more scandalized by such random comboxers and their dimestore Inquisitions.
When I say I have no idea if Perry was an active homosexual, I mean exactly that. No idea. That doesn’t mean “He probably was, but I don’t care.” It means “I assume, given all I know of him and his dedication to the Church’s teaching and his beautiful love of Jesus Christ, that he wasn’t.” But, people being weak flesh, I also recognize it is possible that he might have stumbled on his pilgrimage, as we all do. That he stumbled in *some* way is a given. So do we all. That he stumbled in *this* way I have absolutely no knowledge. If so, that was between him and his confessor because, you know, Not. My. Business. Of his relationship with his companion neither I nor any mortal flesh is qualified to render judgment. Given Perry’s immense capacity for love, I am not going to tell God that He could not be present in their love for each other. That is because, paradoxically, I absolutely reject the tendency of our culture (often led by the militant advocates of homosexual sin) to reduce all love to sex. If two chaste people present their love to God as a gift, who died and made me judge of that offering? I’ve got my own sins to worry about and don’t need to borrow trouble by inventing sins and attributing them to somebody whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He was a great and good man, that’s enough for me. i pray for his soul and ask his prayers.