On Monday the ‘Faith’ section of the Times website carried a feature on Mexican hunk and Hollywood star Eduardo Verastegui, who ‘chose to sacrifice a glittering film career after rediscovering his Catholic faith.’ It seems the actor whose ‘brooding looks and aquamarine eyes’ once ‘attracted thousands of (invariably screaming) female fans’ decided to give it all up after an encounter with an English language coach who was a committed Catholic.
The moment of truth came, apparently, when the coach asked if Verastegui believed his body was ‘a temple of the Holy Spirit’. When the actor said 'yes', the coach challenged him with 'why are you living in a way that breaks the Commandments and offends God?' Tears and confession followed. (Incidentally you can take a peek at the pre-conversion Eduardo displaying his 'temple' to the world here.)
We’re told that Verastegui is now a changed man:
Today, the 35-year-old actor is a daily Mass-goer, committed to abstaining from sex before marriage, who flies to Darfur to help the starving, provides financial help for women considering abortions and organises house-building missions in Mexico.
All very worthy, I'm sure. But what the Times article omits to tell us, for some reason, is that the re-born Verastegui has also become a prominent campaigner in support of plans to outlaw gay marriage in California. Now, the perfectly-formed Verastegui is welcome to his new-found traditionalist views on sex and marriage, but he has no business seeking to impose them on others, and as a recent immigrant (from Mexico, of all places) he should have greater respect for the long-established separation of church and state in his adopted country.
I came across the piece on Verastegui shortly after reading the very different thoughts of another Catholic convert (and political conservative), Eve Tushnet, who happens to be gay. In an article wonderfully entitled 'Romoeroticism', Eve writes about same sex friendships in traditional religious cultures, and describes the sensual attraction of Catholicism for some gay Victorian religious seekers. She also draws on Catholic author Alan Bray's classic study of same-sex friendships in England from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
There's evidence, then, that the Catholic Church has, at times in its history, found ways of tolerating and even (Alan Bray argues) blessing and celebrating faithful same-sex relationships. Someone should tell Eduardo Verastegui.