What is scapegoating? Why Gay Catholic priest James Alison spent years learning why people target minorities

At the age of nine, Catholic priest and scholar James Alison realised two things.

The first was that he was gay.

The second was that his life would never be the same.

A young boy with brown hair laughs, surrounded by other young boys in a school photo.
James Alison was born in 1959 in London, to parents who were members of the ‘religious right’.(Supplied)

“I did know immediately that basically, I was lost,” he tells ABC RN’s Soul Search.

“I was afloat on a sea with no port.

“I lost my parents’ world, their political world, their religious world.”

As a queer person in a religious environment, he felt alienated, an experience he’d spend the next few decades trying to understand.

Two young men in suits stand on either side of a young woman in a white dress, behind an older man and woman seated on a sofa.
Dr Alison (top right) with his family in 1982. He attended the prestigous boys’ boarding school, Eton College.(Supplied)

His journey led him to religious orders in South America, to the forefront of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and to the work of a groundbreaking French philosopher, who helped him understand why some people scapegoat others.

Full article is available on the ABC website