28 June 2007

A true Catholic by Albert Gauci Cunningham (Times of Malta, 22 June, 2007)

There are few people in this world who excel in what they do and there are even fewer who would not try to applaud themselves for doing so; well James Alison seems to be one of this minority. The interview he gave to The Times (No Straight Matter, June 16) was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air. Devoid of any accusations and finger-pointing, his answers were honest and very rational. A huge disservice has been done to many gay people by the media which unfortunately has portrayed the Church and homosexuals as eternal enemies. At least, and definitely at last, this interview has started building bridges and breaking this misconception.

Dr Alison, although gay, is not afraid to profess his belief in the Catholic Church and unfortunately in today's world where everything seems to be stereotyped this is a very commendable and yet difficult burden to carry. Even when asked about church attendance he did not try and score brownie points by saying that the gay issue was one of the factors keeping people away from Mass but instead he stuck to the bare facts: that people are finding other ways of "passing their time". He goes on to say that the message regarding the sacrament of Mass needs to be revamped to be better understood.

There will be those who look at Dr Alison as a traitor to the Church; there will be those who snub him as a dreamer and there will be those who will accuse him of being gay and conservative at the same time (a stereotyped, baseless accusation). I choose to see Dr Alison as a beacon of hope for the future, an example to our society which enjoys creating divisions, a true Catholic who although faced with strong opposition from within his Church will not give up on his beliefs.

Dr Alison ended his interview with Ariadne Massa by saying that he loves the Church and that his job is to bear witness to the truth. "I may not be doing it very well, but at least one has to have a go." Oh yes, Dr Alison, you are doing it very well, much better than those who are at the forefront of some pagan procession or in the comfort of their political party office or write a long letter to a newspaper professing to be the almighty and holy protectors of the Church!

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