Sunday, 19 October 2014

Slapdown For The Supine Pope

BBC News - Catholic synod: Gay rights groups 'disappointed'

Any illusions the 'reforming' Pope Francis may have been under that he is reforming the Catholic Church and bringing it into the 21st-Century by injecting a small dose of humanism into its doctrine were shattered today. The synod of bishops meeting in Rome put him firmly in his place and voted down his paragraph containing the mildest of calls to 'accept' and 'value' the contribution of homosexuals to society and replaced it with a reaffirmation of traditional homophobic Church dogma.

The original draft of the synod's report had contained the paragraph:

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community... Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman.

Even with that final line, this was a step too far for two-thirds of Catholic bishops, what with its talk of 'valuing' homosexuals. After a two-week debate it was replaced with a simple affirmation of existing doctrine, which itself pays only lip service even to the idea that 'unjust' discrimination should be avoided.

The Church teaches: "No grounds whatsoever exist for assimilating or drawing analogies, however remote, between homosexual unions and God's design for matrimony and the family." Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies should be accepted with respect and sensitivity. "Any sign of unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided."

[it was] very disappointing [that the synod's final report had not retained] the gracious welcome to lesbian and gay people that the draft of the report included.

The New Ways Ministry
(A US Catholic gay rights group)
Is there such a thing as justified discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation? Apparently, two-thirds of Catholic bishops think there is. And 'unjust' discrimination only has to be 'avoided'; not banned or condemned unequivocally or declared a sin, just avoided. Like child sexual abuse, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal in civilised countries where laws are based on humanism rather than medieval prejudice, but, as with child abuse, the Catholic Church doesn't feel it should bring those known to be breaking the law to the attention of the authorities. The code of omerta is still reigning supreme in the criminal conspiracy that passes for the Holy See these days.

Astonishingly though, Christopher Lamb of The Tablet (the British Catholic Journal) tried to excuse the vote on the grounds that many of the bishops in the synod came from countries where homosexuality is illegal. The fact that it is illegal in many backward countries is of course precisely because the Catholic Church condemns it. But to excuse the attitude of Catholic bishops on the grounds that others where they come from behave inhumanely too is just astounding. And you thought the Catholic Church was there to give a moral lead...

What we saw through the Synod process is that there are deep divisions in what the Catholics bishops think about LGBT people, even at the highest levels of leadership. Unfortunately, today, doctrine won out over pastoral need. It is disappointing that those who recognised the need for a more inclusive Church were defeated.

And in a sop to the traditionalists in the church, the Pope today finalized the beatification of Pope Paul VI - a step on the road to full sainthood. Pope Paul VI was famous for banning contraception, especially the use of condoms, a policy which is adding to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict lied to Africans telling them condoms cause HIV/AIDS so that they would obey Pope Paul VI's instruction not to use them.

The present Pope's admiration for Pope Paul VI presages poorly for reforms in that respect too. Faced with falling church numbers and falling church income as the cost of helping to reduce overpopulation and environmental destruction, the Pope has of course stuck with the high population, high income and ruined planet strategy.

And we were originally expecting a now increasingly supine and compliant Pope Francis to actually give some sort of lead to the church and give it a semblance of the moral authority to which it has always loudly laid claim though rarely if ever done anything to actually deserve.

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