Merry Christmas, Pope Benedict
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|Tue, 12-23-2008 - 6:13pm|
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Pope ‘spreading fear’ with claim that Man needs protection from homosexuality
The Pope has been condemned by clergy and gay rights campaigners for arguing that mankind needed protection from homosexuality much as the rainforest needed protecting from environmental damage.
Roman Catholic leaders in England, traditionally a liberal province, sought to distance themselves from the Pope’s remarks, claiming that he had been misrepresented because he never used the word “homosexual”.
A close reading of his annual Christmas address to cardinals at the Vatican makes clear that homosexual and transgender people are the targets of his comments on creation, order, gender and the manipulation of human nature.
The Pope said that the Church had a duty to “protect Man from destroying himself”. He called for an understanding of the “ecology of Man” as well as of the environment and said that the “natural order” of human beings as man and woman should be respected. Gender theory had led Man away from God, and marriage, a way of life not permitted to Catholic priests, was a “sacrament of creation”.
Referring to the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which banned artificial contraception and which is ignored by hundreds of thousands of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, he said that the intention of its author, Pope Paul VI, “was to defend love against consumer sex, the future against the exclusive claim of the moment, and human nature against manipulation”.
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.
The Church has become increasingly entrenched in its insistence that homosexuality is ordered towards an “intrinsic moral evil” and that gay people are “objectively disordered”.
One Vatican official referred to homosexuality this year as “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound”. The Vatican has also this year approved psychological tests to make sure that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or “uncertain sexual identity” are not admitted to seminaries for training for the priesthood.
The Rev Giles Fraser, vicar of St Mary’s Church in Putney, southwest London, and founder of the pro-gay Inclusive Church movement, said: “I am extremely disappointed. This is not much of a Christmas message. This will not change anyone’s mind.”
He added: “I thought the Christmas angels said, ‘Fear not’. Instead, the Pope is spreading fear that gay people somehow threaten the planet. And that’s just absurd. As always, this sort of religious homophobia will be an alibi for all those who would do gay people harm.”
Mark Dowd, campaign strategist at Operation Noah, the Christian group campaigning against climate change, who is gay and a former Dominican friar, said that the Pope’s remarks were “understandable but misguided and unfortunate”.
He said: “The problem is that if you study ecology seriously, as any intelligent man would do — and the Pope is a fantastically intelligent man – you realise that ecology is complex. It has all sorts of weird interdependencies and it is the same with human sexuality. It is not a one-size-fits-all model.”
Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, defended the Pope, saying: “He never uses the word homosexuality.”
He said that the Pope’s reflections on the environment were inspiring. “The Pope said we have to be speaking out on the environment but we cannot divide the physical environment away from the human ecology.”
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