Thursday, December 4, 2008
Not My Church
When people act out in a blatantly homophobic manner, rather than get angry at them, maybe it's more constructive to ask, "what are they afraid of?" or "what are they trying to hide?" If someone isn't trying to dispel any doubts about their own sexuality, then why would they feel a need or desire to taunt gays with hateful rhetoric or to engage in physical violence against them? We see this all the way from the high school jock bullies who use the word "fag" or rough up gay boys in public, while acting quite differently in private, sometimes with the same boys they terrorize publicly, to examples like the supposedly closeted Dan White, the tortured man who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay city supervisor Harvey Milk.
Recently another entity afraid of its gay shadow has begun to seriously act out against the gays. The Catholic Church. For years the Church has scapegoated homosexual priests as the cause of its history of child abuse, when the facts disprove that assertion and the Church itself, in covering up or refusing to acknowledge the problem and prosecute the criminals, is really the one that is (since it is since going on and lawsuits are still being filed) more at fault. But now the Church (as much as I have grown to hate the institution I still capitalize the "C," since it is a sign of respect, respect that the Church has frittered away) is going after the gays again, and making no secret of it.
While the marches, protests and boycotts in the wake of the passing of California's Prop. 8, which denied marriage rights to gays and lesbians by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent have targeted for the most part, Mormons, the Catholic Church has escaped the brunt of such outrage. The Church, however, recruited the Mormons into the Prop. 8 fight and the U.S. Conference of Bishops, headed by Chicago's very own Francis Cardinal George, gave at least $200,000 to the cause to strip a segment of the population of their inherent human rights (yes, that's right, it's a human right, not a religious right. If it is not a human right then take away all the civil rights, such as joint filing of income taxes, tax-exempt status for churches that perform marriages, etc.). And where do you think the money the bishops gave to uphold "traditional" marriage came from ? Well, certainly not their own change purses -- it comes from the pews. The pews where church-going people who reach into their pockets and give a few bucks to their archdiocese sit. But that's hardly surprising that churchgoers have to pay for the bishops' political activity, since those same churchgoers are the ones who have gotten stuck with the bills of millions of dollars related to lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse by priests.
But the Church's attack on peaceful, decent, law-abiding gays and lesbians isn't limited to the United States. They (and when I say 'they' I mean the Prada-wearing queen who is the head of the Church in Rome and all his minions) want to bully and deny the most basic human rights to gays and lesbians throughout the world. According to Time magazine, Pope Benedict XVI has gotten his United Nations envoy, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, to announce "that the Vatican will oppose a proposed U.N. declaration calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals."
According to Time's Jeff Israely, "No one should be surprised to find the Catholic Church hierarchy butting heads with gay rights activists. But this particular French-sponsored proposal, which has the backing of all 27 European Union countries, calls for an end to the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation. Most dramatically, in some countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by death." Of course, the ever-compassionate Catholic Church is still opposed to the death penalty (they're "pro-life," don't cha know) so they wouldn't go so far as to endorse the death penalty for homosexuals, but anything short of that, eh, they're kind of fine with. Gotta protect marriage, you know (even though marriage is not part of the U.N. resolution. But the Church has managed to invoke that demon anyway.).
Fueling the fight against equal marriage. Threatening and pressuring those who would support human rights for homosexuals. Rooting out gays from the priesthood. Pinning the blame for the decades of sex abuse in the Church on gay priests. I'm tempted to invoke the well-worn, "Me thinks the men in the Prada heels doth proteth too much" paraphrase, but seriously, why so riled up against the gays? Especially since, for a Church that professes to preach the words and actions of Jesus Christ, who never said anything about homosexuality, it just doesn't seem to be a part of the mission statement. What does the Church have to gain, or rather, what are they trying to protect, by acting this way?