See now the profound and balanced reflection of James Alison: http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng53.html (who oddly spells the Pope's first name as 'Jozef'; only 'Joseph' is correct). Comment at http://queeringthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/holy-spirit-at-work-james-alison/#more-891 http://salusanimarum.blogspot.com/2009/02/mental-hygiene-for-gay-catholics.html http://thewildreed.blogspot.com/2009/02/something-for-our-mental-hygiene-as-gay.html http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=2823
The Irish Times reports a huge rate of suicide among Irish gays. Let us not forget that the comedy of church hypocrisy has a tragic lining. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0210/1233867929596.html
Here is a good piece from another European island: http://www2.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=83109
The Vatican have now discovered an even more frightening threat to the environment than homosexuality: hormones in the urine of women on the pill are causing male infertility!
Slowly but surely, throughout the Catholic world, a vast, quiet rethink is going on on the subject of homosexuality. Here is one sign of it:
The Church has wrongfooted itself by obsessing about the alleged "intrinsically immoral" character of homosexual acts, missing the big picture -- namely the value of loving intimacy. As a result it has condemned many people to lives of sterile loneliness and promiscuity. Gay couples are springing up everywhere now, and are teaching the Church the possibility and reality of love, something the Church should have been teaching them. The false teaching that has wreaked such havoc is more than an embarrassment: it is a scandal. Just as the Church has learnt to apologize for centuries of antisemitism, so it must learn to apologize for centuries of lethal Catholic homophobia. *** The recent controversy about a papal comment in the annual Christmas address to the Curia may have seemed a wild tangent, but it is symptomatic of the impatience that the Vatican's wooden repetitions are creating. Particularly telling is the way hardly anyone bothers to defend the Vatican in these mini-controversies; apathy and aversion to this "bureaucracy of nothing" are widespread among Catholics and their clergy, and may lie behind the dramatic fall in attendance at papal events in 2008 -- a fall that worries the Vatican personnel in part for its financial implications.
The Church has wrongfooted itself by obsessing about the alleged "intrinsically immoral" character of homosexual acts, missing the big picture -- namely the value of loving intimacy. As a result it has condemned many people to lives of sterile loneliness and promiscuity. Gay couples are springing up everywhere now, and are teaching the Church the possibility and reality of love, something the Church should have been teaching them. The false teaching that has wreaked such havoc is more than an embarrassment: it is a scandal. Just as the Church has learnt to apologize for centuries of antisemitism, so it must learn to apologize for centuries of lethal Catholic homophobia.
The recent controversy about a papal comment in the annual Christmas address to the Curia may have seemed a wild tangent, but it is symptomatic of the impatience that the Vatican's wooden repetitions are creating. Particularly telling is the way hardly anyone bothers to defend the Vatican in these mini-controversies; apathy and aversion to this "bureaucracy of nothing" are widespread among Catholics and their clergy, and may lie behind the dramatic fall in attendance at papal events in 2008 -- a fall that worries the Vatican personnel in part for its financial implications.
Here is the papal remark that ignited the latest controversy:
‘Since faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian Credo, the Church cannot and should not rest content with addressing to its faithful the message of salvation. She has a responsibility for the creation and must uphold this responsibility publicly as well. In doing so, she must not only defend the earth, water and air as gifts of creation belonging to all. It is necessary that there be something like an ecology of Man, understood in the right sense. It is not an outdated metaphysics that has the Church speak of the nature of the human being as man and woman and ask that this order of creation be respected. What is at stake is belief in the Creator and hearing the language of creation, to disrespect which would be a self-destruction of Man and thus a destruction of the very work of God. What is often expressed and understood by the concept of “gender” conduces to the self-emancipation of Man from the creation and the Creator. Man wants to create himself and to dispose of his own as he sees fit. But in this fashion he lives against the truth, he lives against the creator Spirit. The tropical forests indeed deserve our protection, but Man deserves it no less as a creature to whom is inscribed a message that does not signify a contradiction to our liberty but its condition. Great scholastic theologians have qualified marriage. the lifelong bond of man and woman, as the sacrament of creation, which the Creator himself instituted and which Christ – without altering the message of creation, then took up into salvation history as a sacrament of the New Covenant.’
The original German reads: ‘Weil der Glaube an den Schöpfer ein wesentlicher Teil des christlichen Credo ist, kann und darf sich die Kirche nicht damit begnügen, ihren Gläubigen die Botschaft des Heils auszurichten. Sie trägt Verantwortung für die Schöpfung und muß diese Verantwortung auch öffentlich zur Geltung bringen. Und sie muß dabei nicht nur die Erde, das Wasser und die Luft als Schöpfungsgaben verteidigen, die allen gehören. Sie muß auch den Menschen gegen die Zerstörung seiner selbst schützen. Es muß so etwas wie eine Ökologie des Menschen im recht verstandenen Sinn geben. Es ist nicht überholte Metaphysik, wenn die Kirche von der Natur des Menschen als Mann und Frau redet und das Achten dieser Schöpfungsordnung einfordert. Da geht es in der Tat um den Glauben an den Schöpfer und das Hören auf die Sprache der Schöpfung, die zu mißachten Selbstzerstörung des Menschen und so Zerstörung von Gottes eigenem Werk sein würde. Was in dem Begriff “Gender” vielfach gesagt und gemeint wird, läuft letztlich auf die Selbstemanzipation des Menschen von der Schöpfung und vom Schöpfer hinaus. Der Mensch will sich nur selber machen und sein Eigenes immer nur selbst bestimmen. Aber so lebt er gegen die Wahrheit, lebt gegen den Schöpfergeist. Die Regenwälder verdienen unseren Schutz, ja, aber nicht weniger der Mensch als Geschöpf, dem eine Botschaft eingeschrieben ist, die nicht Gegensatz zu unserer Freiheit, sondern ihre Bedingung bedeutet. Große Theologen der Scholastik haben die Ehe, die lebenslange Verbindung von Mann und Frau als Schöpfungssakrament bezeichnet, das der Schöpfer selbst eingesetzt und das Christus dann – ohne die Schöpfungsbotschaft zu verändern – in die Heilsgeschichte als Sakrament des Neuen Bundes aufgenommen hat.’ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/december/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20081222_curia-romana_ge.html
America magazine glosses: ‘By “self-destruction,” the pope said he meant “contempt for the Creator,” and he said examples could be found in so-called “gender” issues today. He offered a case in point: Marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman was something instituted by God as “the sacrament of creation.”‘ http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=603830D3-1438-5036-4F5E0C8022A6327E. Fr Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican press spokesperson, has been busy again pointing out that the papal address makes no reference to gays or lesbians, but people are ready to read between the lines and beyond the lines, often with a wildness that may make the Pope regret the accuracy and courtesy of his theological critics over the last forty years. A wider world is becoming aware of the style of sterile and divisive provocation that has been the hallmark of the Vatican, especially the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which the charisma of John Paul II his from view for decades. The wider masses are now beginning to understand what theologians have been whining about for decades.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reacted to the papal statement: ‘In a season in which the immorality of genocide, lawless governments, lust for money and power and the destabilization of the world’s economy are destroying the lives of hundreds of millions around the world, the Pope’s obsessive focus on gay, lesbian and trans people who simply seek the right to live and love is out of touch with what humanity needs right now from its religious leaders.’ Andrew Sullivan wrote: ‘Benedict has gone out of his way to issue what can only be called calculated affronts to the dignity of homosexual persons. Yesterday’s statement that humankind needs “saving” from homosexuality, the way the rainforests need saving from being raped and pillaged is his latest provocation. His first-in-history attempt to ban even celibate gay seminarians is easily the most draconian and hateful anti-gay policy of any church, stigmatizing them even if they agree to obey every stricture the church places on them.’
Readers of La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera expressed irritation: http://www.corriere.it/politica/08_dicembre_22/papa_gender_uomo_donna_aaaa2fc0-d015-11dd-b6ee-00144f02aabc.shtml; http://www.repubblica.it/2008/12/sezioni/esteri/papa-popstar/papa-popstar/papa-popstar.html. So did readers of The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Independent:
Paul Vallely claimed that the Pope’s point was lost in translation:
As with the Regensburg address, it was stressed that the Pope's remarks could be understood only in the context of his whole speech: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090115/local/manipulative-reports-of-popes-message-disappoint-archbishop
Ruth Gledhill commented: ‘The strength of the reaction against his remarks from bloggers and other online commentators worldwide gave one of the clearest indications to date that the row over gays that has taken the Anglican Church almost to a schism is one that is close to erupting in the more tightly ruled Roman Catholic Church as well.’
In a Commonweal combox, biblical scholar Vincent M. Smiles wrote: 'I find the Pope’s stance on homosexuality (and the same has to be said of numerous Vatican statements going back to PERSONA HUMANA – 1975) scandalous in the full theological sense of the term (“stumbling block” to faith). GAUDIUM ET SPES (1965 - #62) requires that “in pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology,” but this principle is utterly ignored in Vatican pronouncements regarding GLBT people; there is not even an attempt to engage the evidence or to show some hesitation or humility in face of its challenges. This doctrine against GLBT people is offered as though there were nothing in Catholic tradition that might give us pause on this crucial matter, and yet, for instance, the Vatican’s use of the Bible is embarrassingly simplistic and fundamentalist. We need to recover the resources of our tradition that enable an alternative view to that of Benedict XVI. We might, for instance, resurrect the care-full response of the CTSA to PERSONA HUMANA, which was published in 1979, titled HUMAN SEXUALITY. It warns against “citing verses from the Bible outside of their historical context and then blithely applying them to homosexuals today.” Such (ab)use of the Bible “does grave injustice both to Scripture and to people who have already suffered a great deal from the travesty of Biblical interpretation.” It counsels pastors to leave in peace homosexuals who are in stable, loving relationships, and it even goes on to say that “prayer, even communal prayer, for two [homosexual] people … incarnating the values of fidelity, truth, and love, is not beyond the pastoral possibilities of a Church whose ritual tradition includes a rich variety of blessings.” The study is sadly aware, however, that “social repercussions” might make such “blessings” inadvisable. The scandal of Benedict’s stance is that he speaks as though faith provided a certainty that is simply not available, and in doing so his pronouncements are cruelly misleading and unjust.'
Gay publications carried rage to a high pitch: