Interview with Anne Rice

See and hear Anne Rice talk about the Pope’s visit. The last few minutes she talks about whether or not she is a ‘dissenter’. There are some other YouTube videos in which Anne talks to Bill McGarvy about her views.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    I think this interview touches upon an important issue. Too many otherwise good, orthodox catholics are quick to brand ‘dissenters’ as unredeemable heretics and too many dissenters are too quick to rant and rave in disobedience rather than discuss the faith with regard to a struggle towards sacred assent. You challenge your reader to offer an opinion about whether or not Ms. Rice is a dissenter. I think it is clear in the interview that in her heart she obviously carries what the dictionary can only define as dissent in that she is in some disagreement. She’s obviously known good and holy people that happen to be practicing gays, or women who feel a call to the priesthood, or whatever. In her heart, I suspect that she feels the Holy Spirit calls her to disagree with the teachings of the magisterium on such matters and to communicate this to her pastor. But she is not a raving public dissenter or a political activist posing as an obedient catholic. Furthermore, I seriously doubt there is such a thing as perfect assent. I would argue that even the pope cannot perfectly assent to the mind and body of the church in its totality as a mere mortal.So in that sense we are all dissenters struggling towards better assent and knowledge of the one true holy and catholic apostolic church. We catholics happen to believe that the sacred deposit of faith can be defined infallibly in some limited respects, and that the magisterium can very strongly define fallible doctrine. So we are not nihilistic in our faith. But neither are we slipshod and casual about what we define to be infallible.So I would close my proffered opinion that arguing that Ms. Rice is well within her rights as a faithful catholic to hold these opinions in her heart and confer with her pastor about them, and perhaps legitimately feel the HS is calling her to feel the way she does. As sister Wendy says in her book on contemplative prayer, ‘The church will get it right in the end, but in the end…’

  • Mary Rose

    Hmmm. I may be in the minority of Catholics who are not gushy over Rice. I read her books faithfully years and years ago, completely seduced by her writing. No doubt she is a very talented writer.However, I take issue with several things she said:She looks forward to the day when “gay people will be embraced by the church.” (Her son, Christopher, is gay.) Well, she must have missed the Biblical directive that says we are to love sinners. Gays are already embraced by the church. But accepted while they remain in sinful relationships? Now that’s a different story. And women priests? Again, I have never understood this relentless pursuit of ordination apart from a feminist agenda. (I pretty much thought any woman who wanted to dedicate her life to the church became a nun.) Christ had twelve male disciples, and yes, there were women also. But the men were given the role of governing the church. The priest acts as both Christ during the Sacrifice of the Mass and offers the Paschal Sacrifice at the same time. I could never see a woman in this role.Women have totally overlooked the influence of the ministry they already have been given – such as ministering comfort and refreshment to Our Lord. This is so needed for a hurting world. Bless the mothers who understand the compassion that flows fromm their fingertips, according to God’s grace.Her mention of Pope Benedict XVI and how he brought all Catholics together: You know why? Because Peter points the way to Christ. His declaration of the divinity of Christ is a magnet that draws all of us together. It’s our insistence upon our own agendas that divides us. (Though to her credit, she placed a priority of “being Catholic” over her own “dreams” and thoughts of what should be.)Finally, is she a dissenter? Yes. There is a two-pronged attack on the church universal. Gay activism and radical feminism. She supports both, or so it seems. And both have already had words of judgement from Scripture and Rome.

  • chimakuni

    Ann Rice is a struggling Catholic who accepts the teachings of the Church but who still hopes that the Church will one day “embrace gays” and one day will have women priests. Her struggle is her heart as a mother of a son who practices homosexuality. It is a strange thing that she does not recognize that the Church does indeed embrace her son. What the Church in Her Wisdom does not embrace is the sinfulness of homosexuality.Her hope that there will one day be women priests – hard line feminism takes a long time to die…I, too am a struggling, faithful Catholic who accepts all of the Church’s teachings and in my acceptance, I do not hope that the Church will change, but that if I have an issue with Her Teachings, that I will change for Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Thank you for posting this Father Longenecker. It was interesting to hear the author speak and to hear her opinions.

  • Jeffrey Smith

    Marcus Aurelius ( Should I say “ave, Ceasar?” ) has it spot on.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    The great philosopher has put it well

  • Tom in Vegas

    I don’t consider Rice a dissenter who is actively trying to neologize the Catholic Church. While her personal faith might contain positions that deviate from traditional praxis, I think she is well within the boundaries of “faithful adherence.” To hope that one’s Church embraces these things she talks about – to whatever extent she defines – is in no way justification to label her a dissenter or liberal Catholic. Most of us have minds that we use to think through issues that affect our lives or people in our life directly. And, typically, while we let Church teaching heavily influence the way we think and live, I would argue that very few people lead spiritual lives that are an exact carbon copy of magisterium pedagogy.

  • Mary Rose

    I may not be clear on what others term as “dissenter.” When in doubt, I check a dictionary just to have a starting point.According to Merriam-Webster, a dissenter is someone who dissents; 1 : to withhold assent 2 : to differ in opinion.I do not judge Ms. Rice to be an unredeemable heretic, but yet I don’t believe that her opinions are harmless – either to herself, first and foremost, or to the general public. Anne Rice has the precarious position of being a public figure, which only magnifies her opinions and thought.Catholics are encouraged to have an “informed conscience.” I didn’t realize how much I missed an appreciation for this approach. But again, I’m not sure how to balance this with the Bible and the magisterium. I admit I have a tendency to see things in black and white but is not truth, truth? Has not God forbidden homosexuality for a very good reason? (Perhaps mainly because it goes against the purpose for which man and woman were created.)I can’t imagine how difficult it is for a mother to desire a greater intimacy with her Lord but yet knows in her heart that her son is living outside of God’s commandments. I also believe that is probably what drives her to make statements such as wanting to see gays embraced by the church.I sense in Ms. Rice an authentic desire to grow spiritually and be faithful to the Catholic church. I am surprised and glad for her, that she has come back to the Catholic church.But this comment by you, Marcus Aurelius, I do not understand:She’s obviously known good and holy people that happen to be practicing gays, or women who feel a call to the priesthood…If you are assuming that is her position, then it’s conjecture. But if you believe this, then I ask how? I’ve known good gay men, but a holy gay man who is practicing homosexuality? I’ll just say that when we come to God, we are asked to surrender all. A single person must live a life of celibacy. I did for 18 years before I finally married. I think the same is required of anyone who is single, including a gay man. But back to Rice. At what point is it wrong to dissent? Never? It’s an honest question. I’m still feeling my way back as a revert but yet something doesn’t seem right when a person is in such direct opposition to what the Bible states. I may not like what it says, but the issue at that point is to pray for grace to accept it. Not insist that Scripture should adapt to culture or my preferences.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Mary Rose – OK, I’ll bite. This time. But I don’t Fr. Dwight really wanted to expound upon gay issues in this post. He simply asked if Ms. Rice was a dissenter. I would like to point out that she did not articulate a single dissenting position, just that she would like the church to arrive at a change on her own. She did not say what she thinks about gays or women in the church. We’re guessing, and possibly putting words in her mouth. If I were in her shoes, in a position of fame, I would have a world of trouble keeping my mouth shut!Perhaps the real question is whether or not Ms. Rice is obedient or if she tries to willfully withhold sacred assent.Personally, I think it is a miracle that Ms. Rice is back in the fold at all, having a gay son that she loves so much and given what she is accomplishing with her books about Jesus. I agree with her sense that in our lifetime the Holy Spirit may well elaborate on the simple natural-law based article 6 of the catechism in light of new scientific data, through the Holy Spirit. Wishing for such elaboration, or even amendment, is not necessarily disobedience, particularly as Ms. Rice so gently framed it.Consider what science is telling us…We can actually make lab rats gay by administering hormones at specific times in their early development. Scary eh? There but by the grace of God go you and I … and our children! A tiny bit of the wrong hormone when you were in your mother’s womb and your early development could have proceeded in that direction. “Then I would be called to chastity in the same way as when I was single,” you might say. But since we have not carried that cross – of growing up being radically different from our peers, of an unwanted call to life long singleness, of having something as personal to you as your sexuality seem to inspire fear and disgust in others, I am not sure it is for us to judge gays based on our heterosexual experiences. I am far more interested, personally, in what gay catholics themselves have to say, such as those in groups like Courage (a Vatican-approved group which advocates gay celibacy).Clearly homosexuality is a part of God’s creation. When Paul talks about homosexuality in Romans, I believe he is talking about willful perversion at weird pagan temple rituals like the temple of Cybel. I am not sure that he is speaking to those born homosexual, in fact I really doubt it.How I wish St. Thomas Aquinas were around today! He would deeply question so many doctrines in light of scientific data, particularly on whether a predisposition created by God in the womb can be inherently evil…In St. Thomas’s absence I would just like to point out that Catholics are not sola scriptura. The scriptures can be used to support slavery, but we have grown out of that. In the book of Matthew, we are forbidden to call priests ‘Father’, but it has become a part of our tradition. Part of being catholic is accepting that the Holy Spirit’s truth unfolds over time. Some doctrines, like the perpetual virginity of Mary, can be clarified and defined as part of this process. Slavery can be defined as wrong. Gluttony can be re-understood as we learn more about the biological causes of obesity. Again I invoke St. Thomas Aquinas – there is one truth. Science informs that truth and explains the unfolding of God’s creation. Creation is not inherently evil in some Manichean way. And as the parent of a gay child, Ms. Rice personally witnessed the unfolding of God’s created nature in her son as he grew up to be a human being that she deeply cares about. Her love for her son is surely motherly love. Not loving despite some flaw. Just pure motherly love. Myself, I know a gay man that has been with one partner for 14 years. Is it a sin? In obedience to the church I will testify that it is a sin but I am conflicted about it because I know so many heterosexuals who are far less kind to one another, divorced, cheating, whatever. St. Thomas Aquinas himself was a bit chubby – does that make him a sinful glutton? Can he still be a good and holy man? The church has declared him a Saint and I am in obedience to that too. Despite his gluttony he is a holy man. Therefore, I suspect that a practicing homosexual, glutton, lazy-bones, or aggressive driver could potentially be a holy person despite some flaw. Such determination of holiness seems to me to be someone else’s judgement.With regard to feminist issues, I don’t know what her thoughts are (part of the reason I believe she is in a state of obedience is the fact that she doesn’t articulate a dissenter position). Perhaps she senses a return to permanent deaconesses for women would be in order. There is a lot of scriptural and historical support for that.I think Ms. Rice’s comment that she would like the church to grow in greater knowledge with regard to such issues can easily be read as a fairly obedient, catholic response. If she suddenly uses her fame in the catholic world to articulate dissenter positions that is another matter altogether.One thing is clear – her books are very well done. Now if only Mel Gibson would work with her to turn them into movies! Mel Gibson and the likes of SSPX, incidentally, are far greater dissenters than Ms. Rice for joining or supporting schismatic ultra-conservative splinter churches. Regardless, the Holy Spirit can use both Ms. Rice or Mr. Gibson to create wonderful new media to bring us closer to Christ. The Holy Spirit could probably have my dog start talking to bring us closer to him if that were God’s will.

  • Mary Rose

    Marcus Aurelius,Thank you for your very thoughtful response. I also want to respect Fr. Longenecker’s blog by staying on point.I will again ask if anyone can define dissenter according to Catholic tradition. If it is only used for schismatic groups, I’d say that is a different definition than what I had originally thought.I also am aware that the Roman Catholic church is not sola scriptura but I disagee with your statement, “Part of being catholic is accepting that the Holy Spirit’s truth unfolds over time” I don’t believe the Holy Spirit would contradict what is already explicitly stated in Scripture. I also believe that Scripture leads the church, not the other way around.As for the issue of science, here is what I cannot logically fathom: why would God declare something an abomination but yet purposefully create someone who had no choice but to practice that abomination?My father came from a good Catholic family of eight boys and one girl. Out of the eight boys, five became gay. One of the straight brothers had a family of two boys and one girl. One of his sons became gay. In college, I was involved with a ministry to gays, so believe me, I have a very deep heart for them.However, I also tried to study Scripture in relation to what God’s directives were regarding our sexuality. Along with the catechism, I was exposed to a beautiful, God-ordained arrangement of love, intimacy, and a relationship that referenced Christ’s relationship with the Church.I believe in the gifts God has given Ms. Rice, but yet also understand that she had steeped her novels in homo-erotica. Whether that was influenced by her son or not is unknown, but it is there.As I said, I am happy she is back. But I still believe she is a dissenter when comes to the issue of the church accepting practiing gays and ordaining women as priests.I think what proves to be a stumbling point for many Catholics (and non-Catholic believers) is the desire to love and respect people, whether they are living a life of obedience to God or not. As Christians, there is something that is aroused in us to minister healing and comfort to those who are hurting. And few in our society are as wounded as the gay community. We are quick to rush in and respond to their humanity. But I also think it is a temptation to take the compassion that is given to us through grace and justify choices that run in direct opposition to God’s purposes.I know it’s difficult. Telling the truth sometimes is difficult when we know it can potentially break someone’s heart.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Mary,Not only are we not sola scriptura we also are not lead solely by scripture. I challenge you to actually read all of Leviticus and see just how many things we don’t do – such as calling in a priest to examine our bathroom mold and swing a dead bird around on a hyssop stick in a purification ritual, or sending our women to the unclean place to menstruate. We also don’t go about killing Hindus like some mad, idol smashing Gideon out of the book of Judges. And neither should we abuse homosexuals, or their reticent parents, with quotes from Leviticus and Romans that may well be out of context. Yes we are called to witness, but with compassion and perhaps even a bit of common sense, particularly in light of our own sins and shortcomings, which God may judge to be equally damning. Finally, I think it is fairly common and sound theology that the church grows in the Holy Spirit over time just as we all do. This is the word that began to unfold with the ancient Hebrews through to this day.I really don’t see what point you’re trying to make about Anne Rice’s video that was posted here. You seem to be drawing on her vampire novels which preceded her conversion, the rights to which are probably in the hands of her publisher. Then she says she wishes the church would think more deeply on a few points but that she is obedient to church teaching and you seem to extrapolate that to a host of dissenting positions based on her vampire novels. In my opinion that’s not really fair.Beyond that, you seem to want the church to disown practicing homosexuals and you want Ms. Rice to more strongly annunciate agreement of some sort with that. I don’t think that the church demands that she has to annunciate such agreement. What she detailed in this interview was obedience to the teaching despite some misgivings. That is honest and it is enough. If at some future time she outlines some dissenter position that will be another matter. I suppose it was a mistake for me to delve into that last comment. I tried to outline a few of the reasons she might legitimately feel a bit of stress in fully embracing the teachings of the church. In doing so I fear that we both unfairly put words into her mouth. Watch the video again. She essentially says that she feels uncomfortable with some church teachings and wishes that they would be reconsidered but is obedient to them. I can see no fault in that. That contrasts sharply with ultraorthodox conservative groups like SSPX that reject Vatican II and hang pictures of Lefebvre, rather than the holy father, all over their churches. I’d rather sit in a pew next to Anne Rice or Andrew Sullivan than Lefebvre any day. There is a reason why one was excommunicated and the other are stil in the fold.

  • Mary Rose

    Marcus,I like your response. You seem to have a very compassionate heart.As for Leviticus, you do have a point. It laid out legal rules and the order for the Levitical priesthood. However, this book was not the only place where judgement against homosexual acts occurs.I’ve read the texts of Leviticus, Romans, and 1 Corinthians to understand the context. What strikes me is that St. Paul himself spoke of judging those within the church, not those outside the church.I thought the reason why the video was posted was to bring up Anne Rice’s response to the question posed to her: was she a dissenter? I thought she was according to both Scripture and the teachings of the church.In 1999, Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, issued a letter to the Bishops on the pastoral care of homosexuals. From the letter:In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however [the Congregation's "Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics" of December 29, 1975], an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.This letter caused quite a stir. A nun who devoted herself to ministering to gays even left her order because of it.Again, I’m trying to focus on the issue of dissent although I did add my own beliefs regarding the church embracing practicing gays. Should practicing homosexuals be disowned? This is a bit tricky because we are all dealing with sin. But when a prostitute comes to church, what is she told? Stop selling her body because she is precious in the sight of God. The adultress was told to “sin no more” Why do we have such a difficult time telling gays to remain celibate?The reason I brought up Anne Rice’s previous novels was because to me, it spoke of a sympathy (or outright fascination) for homosexuality. Perhaps that wasn’t fair, but I wasn’t surprised by her comments regarding the church and a hope it would “embrace” gays.I admire Ms. Rice for giving the interview. Her heart seems to be in the right place. But yet I still have questions regarding dissent that obviously won’t be resolved at this time. According to you, Anne Rice’s dissent is acceptable but the SSPX is not.At least that gives me something to consider as I continue to learn about appropriate and inappropriate dissension. Thank you.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Mary Rose,You articulate some very good points. Thanks for the discussion, I have enjoyed it.I think that SSPX is in willful and total disobedience with Rome. Anne Rice, in sharp contrast, is longing towards obedience with some disonance in her heart about a few issues. In the dissenting category: I don’t really know if SSPX is more or less dissenting than Ms. Rice in their refusal to acknowledge VII, some of their anti-semetic statements, et cetera. In the obedience category: I do think that Ms. Rice is far more obedient and striving towards assent than those pretend bishops in SSPX.It is useful to ponder both ends of the ‘spectrum’ with regard to issues of assent and obedience.

  • Mary Rose

    Marcus, I’m re-learning things about my faith. One of my prayers has been to discuss such issues as this without losing the love and compassion in my heart. You articulated some very good points also and gave me food for thought. You’ve been very gracious with me. I enjoyed the discussion, also. Thanks and looking forward to seeing your thoughtful comments again. :-)

  • Patm

    I think the word “heretic” gets thrown around way too easily here in America. Declaring that Christ is not Divine is HERESY. Suggesting that Christ is not present in the Eucharist is HERESY. Declaiming the Triune God is HERESY.Disagreeing with a church position (but not actively working against it) is not heresy. It’s having a different opinion. We’re allowed to have them – and I say that even though I support the church’s position on both female ordination and gays, abortion, etc.It was never my understanding that being a good Catholic meant only “agreeing and shutting up” (or submitting the right to think and to wonder) or be called a heretic.Rice has a differing opinion. She is not the only Catholic in the world who struggles with it. But she seems to be also an obedient daughter of the church. And oddly enough one would say essentially the same thing about Dorothy Day.

  • Steve

    Marcus,Thank you for what you have written here. You have saved me the forty minutes I would have invested in my own comments; better still, you’ve expressed my views better than I would have. Your best point, I’d say: the idea that we should not go about casually ruling someone as not possibly being “holy,” not, at least, on the basis of their being a loving, monogamous homosexual or heterosexual. (I trust God much more than any human being when it comes to judging others’ holiness.) Mary Rose and Marcus both, I appreciate the civility in your exchange. Reason and civility (compassion, too) need to be a part of any discussion on a topic as complex and sensitive as human sexuality and the role of women in the church.

  • kentuckyliz

    The church embraces people with a homosexual inclination as children of God and doesn’t condemn them to Hell because of an orientation–nooooo. Fred Phelps doesn’t run our church.We’re all on a journey, and if certain things cause difficulties, that’s fine. I’ve had difficulties before–used to be pro-artificial contraception (even though I didn’t practice it) and pro-abortion (although I’ve never had one, nor have any of my friends)…even though I probably owe my existence to being an accident in 1965 instead of 1973. LOL Talk about survivor guilt.But the Holy Spirit works on people over time, and there’s a learning curve, and experience shows that sin is its own punishment…so over time, the woundedness of the instrinsically disordered (or gravely evil) acts starts to show forth, causing the person to see the church’s wisdom.A dear friend and colleague of mine, a man with homosexual inclination, went through RCIA and was baptized, confirmed, and eucharisted into Christ and his church last year at Easter. There’s been lots of us praying for him for a long time! This brought me great joy. He loves the faith and prays the Rosary and is a server, lector, gardener, fundraiser, and caterer for the church. It’s his home away from home.BTW praying the Rosary is dangerous. Mary and the Holy Spirit can really transform a person and renew their mind. It caused me to acknowledge my difficulties, seek out exactly what the Church taught, and to pray about it until I found I no longer had difficulties. When it seems to be an uncompassionate thing, one has to learn what the compassionate solution is that is in harmony with God’s demands.Re deaconesses, the early Church had it and the Orthodox still do. They are the equivalent of apostolic nuns. Orthodox nuns are all in the monastery, so the women who do good works in the world are called deaconesses whereas Catholics refer to them as apostolic nuns or sisters. It’s the same thing. It’s not the same thing as the permanent diaconate in the Catholic church, which is reserved to men. There were no liturgical or sacramental functions for deaconesses ever.That being said, if the permanent diaconate were opened to women, I’d sign up in a heartbeat. *grin* I’m not going to dissent or protest over it, because like St Teresa of Avila, I want to always remain a faithful daughter of the Church.The more one loves God, the more one wants to know what God wants, and to be in harmony with that. Conversion is a lifelong process and we are patient with so-called “dissenters.”Get them praying the Rosary…I’m tellin’ ya, it’s dangerous!!!