Vatican Says 'Wilde Was on Our Side'

Oscar Wilde, an example of a proper 'gay marriage', even if, like so many fathers, he made errors and mistakes and gave into his temptations. I am quite sure that if Wilde were alive and well and living in Brighton today, he wouldn't be seen dead at a Gay Pride march. He'd be attending Mass at his local parish Church...

Courtesy of The Times

In life, he was about as likely to get an audience with the Pope as Pontius Pilate. Now, more than a century after his death, Oscar Wilde has been claimed by The Vatican as one of its own.

Wilde, who died in 1900 after finding God and converting to Roman Catholocism on his deathbed, has long been regarded by the Vatican as a dissolute homosexual who was sentenced and imprisoned for acts of gross indecency over his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas.

However in a review of a new study, The Portrait of Oscar Wilde by the Italian writer Paolo Gulisano, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said that Wilde was much more than “an aesthete and a lover of the ephemeral”.

He had been “one of the personalities of the 19th century who most lucidly analysed the modern world in its disturbing as well as its positive aspects”, the review said.

Wilde was often celebrated by the gay world as an example of an artist persecuted because of his homosexuality, but another Wilde was coming to the fore, “not just a non-conformist who loved to shock the conservative society of Victorian England” but also “a man who behind a mask of amorality asked himself what was was just and what was mistaken, what was true and what was false”.

Even in his famous comedies such as The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde had shown himself to be a troublesome and irritating social critic who preferred common wisdom to the false certainties of his time, the Vatican paper said, quoting his aphorism that “the things one feels absolutely certain about are never true”.

It went on: “The existential path which Oscar Wilde trod can also be seen as a long and difficult path toward that Promised Land which gives us the reason for existence, a path which led him to his conversion to Catholicism, a religion which, as he remarked in one of his more acute and paradoxical aphorisms, was ‘for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do’. "

Wilde had always been in search of the good and the beautiful, and had embraced God after his dramatic experience in prison, L’Osservatore Romano said.

Moves to rehabilitate Wilde began two years ago when his aphorisms were included in a collection of maxims and witticisms for Christians published by Father Leonardo Sapienza, head of protocol at the Vatican. It included such Wildean gems as “I can resist everything except temptation” and, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it” — not exactly orthodox Catholic teaching.

Father Sapienza said that Wilde was a “writer who lived perilously and somewhat scandalously but who has left us some razor-sharp maxims with a moral”.

Pope Benedict XVI, a vehement opponent of gay marriages or civil unions, has reinforced Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a disorder. Men “with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” are banned from training for the priesthood under Vatican rules. On the other hand the Pope has often belied his reputation as a dogmatic hardliner since his election four years ago, for example devoting his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, to spiritual and physical love.

Wilde, who was married and had two children, was arrested and tried in 1895 over his relationship with Lord Douglas (known as Bosie), son of the Marquess of Queensberry, who had accused Wilde of sodomy. The writer sued Queensberry but lost, and was sentenced to two years’ hard labour and imprisoned in Reading Gaol.

He displayed a long fascination with Catholicism, once remarking: “I am not a Catholic — I am simply a violent Papist.” He was born in Dublin to a Protestant family but fell under the spell of Catholicism at Oxford. He even made a journey for an audience with the Pope but declared: “To go over to Rome would be to sacrifice and give up my two great gods: money and ambition.”

He died at the Hotel d’Alsace on the rue des Beaux-Arts in November 1900, with a Catholic priest administering the last rites. He is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery.


shadowlands said…
Always had a soft spot for Oscar,this is good news.
Elizabeth said…
Can't help but love The Importance of Being Earnest. "The General was a man of peace...except in his domestic life"...
God is good.
Patricius said…
I too always admired Oscar Wilde, he was a witty and urbane man, and a Classicist.
Witty, urbane, and a Classicist. He immensely added to the spice of life and he died a shriven Catholic. Nonetheless, his life was no exemplar and he would have still been locked up today, given the ages of some of the boys with whopm he slept.

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