Pontiff once again speaks out against LGBT equality, saying same-sex marriage is a threat to ‘the future of humanity’
When you hear someone with as powerful a voice as the pope say something is a threat to “the future of humanity itself,” you take notice. Pope Benedict uttered these weighty words this week, and what was he talking about? Nuclear capabilities in Iran? Global warming? Famine? Drought?
The Holy Father was speaking about marriage equality. Apparently in the rarified air of the Vatican, allowing LGBT people to affirm their relationships and have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples would have apocalyptic results.
In his statement to a gathering of diplomats from 180 countries, the pope said that children need the proper settings in which to grow, and that “pride of place goes to the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”
He went on to assert that, “This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
This little gem was part of his yearly address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican. Unlike with any other religion in the world, the U.S. actually has an ambassador to the Vatican, representing the Catholic Church, as do many other countries.
It is a mystery I fail to understand, but it is what it is.
This statement comes on the heels of the elevation of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the status of cardinal. Not surprisingly, Dolan is one of the leading anti-LGBT voices in the Catholic Church.
And Pope Benedict himself is certainly no friend of LGBT folk either. In a 1986 pastoral letter he wrote before becoming pontiff, then-Cardinal Ratzinger said that homosexuality was “an intrinsic moral evil” and “an objective disorder.”
Now to put this in perspective, the Catholic Church claims 1.3 billion adherents worldwide. This is why what the pope says is news.
But I fail to see this statement coming from the voice of the moral high ground.
The Vatican has been implicated in numerous scandals in recent years, and most of them involve inappropriate sexual behavior with minors. Many of these same scandals not only involve priests, but the systematic coverup of the crimes.
The courts of the U.S. and Europe have been busy prosecuting these cases, and the new media has covered them ad nauseam.
For me, the big question is this: In a world with so many social and humanitarian problems, why is preventing LGBT people from marrying worthy of such hyperbole?
Will allowing my partner and me to marry for the purposes of gaining the 1,000-plus legal benefits awarded to straight couples in the U.S. going to shake the foundations of our country? Is a gay marriage going to cause straight people to throw up their hands saying, “Well there goes the neighborhood” and divorce?
This all has to do with control — and few people understand control as well as the current pope. Cardinal Ratzinger was the “enforcer” for the Vatican before his elevation to pontiff. His office was the Supreme Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a group previously known as (until 1965) Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. You remember them and their always “unexpected” counterpart, the Spanish Inquisition?
The pope will continue to demonize LGBT people and oppose our relationships as long as it serves to increase his control. Much like right-wing politicians, the pope can use this issue as a wedge issue, prying the faithful away from any attempt at social justice in the matter of LGBT rights.
Moreover, this is also designed to bolster the argument that “hate speech” should be protected as a freedom of religion issue, a recent tactic being used by the far-right to oppose LGBT rights and anti-bullying efforts.
Am I suggesting that the pope is colluding with politicians to deny LGBT people their rights? Perhaps not. But his statements will surely be used by the right wing to bolster their arguments.
I just find it sad that the man who has assumed the mantle of the vicar of Christ can so conveniently ignore that Jesus said nothing about LGBT people in any recorded documents. He did, however, say something to the effect of, “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and visit the prisoner.”
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.