This is one of those things you can only file under “Did I Hear That Right?”, “Is He Listening To Himself?” or “He Can’t Mean That.” At least that’s my initial reaction to hearing the Pope call for an end to prejudice.
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged people everywhere to prepare for Christmas by overcoming prejudices as pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square ahead of Christmas Eve celebrations.
“Jesus came for each one of us and made us brothers,” Benedict said during his traditional blessing from his window overlooking the square.
In turn, he added, people should strive to “overcome preconceived ideas and prejudices, tear down barriers and eliminate contrasts that divide — or worse — set individuals and peoples against each other, so as to build together a world of justice and peace.”
Oh, really? ‘Cause that seems to fly in the face of some other stuff he’s said recently.
Just days before, in fact, he seemed to be engaging in just what he spoke out against.
“I cannot hide my concern about legislation on de facto couples,” the Pope said.
“And so joining a man and a woman, and two people of the same sex becomes the same,” Benedict said. “With that, the ominous theories that deny any relevance to the human person’s masculinity and femininity are tacitly confirmed.”
And, no, I don’t excuse him or anyone else for making statements like that — basically in support of discrimination — just because they’re based on religious beliefs.
But the above is rather mild compared to what he’s said before, in which he not only advocates discrimination, but even appears to excuse anti-gay violence as the inevitable result of gay people being out and demanding equality.
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.
…What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable. What is essential is that the fundamental liberty which characterizes the human person and gives him his dignity be recognized as belonging to the homosexual person as well. As in every conversion from evil, the abandonment of homosexual activity will require a profound collaboration of the individual with God’s liberating grace.
In other words, they bring it on themselves for being out and demanding equality in the first place? After all, isn’t that the natural response to “evil,” as Ratzinger seems include gay people in that category? How is that not constructing a “barrier” that divides — or worse — “set[s] individuals and people against each other,” by labeling one group “evil” and advocating discrimination against them?
And, no, as far as I’m concerned opposing civil legislation to prohibit discrimination is no different from advocating for discrimination. It’s nothing more than simply trying to have it both ways, and attempt to cloak bigotry with some semblance of compassion and tolerance, as I pointed out when John McCain tried to have it both ways on same-sex marriage.
Actually, John, your remark reminded me of an interview I saw years ago when some sweet little old lady was asked about a law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. I guess she wanted to preserve her image as a sweet old lady when she said of the proposed law, “Oh, I’m against discrimination. I just don’t think we need a law against it.” It’s a nice sentiment, but even then I knew the reality was that in the absence of a law there was no way to prevent discrimination, no possible penalty for those who did the discriminating, and no legal remedies or recourse for those who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation to fight it.
In her mind, that little old lady got to have it both ways by personally opposing discrimination, but at the same time supporting it by supporting a status quo that at best took a “do nothing” approach to anti-gay discrimination that left people no better off. But she got to feel good about herself, and remain a sweet old lady.
The lack of protection against discrimination leaves our families vulnerable to whatever bigoted individuals want to inflict on us, with little or no redress. Advocating against those protections is to actively deny them, and implies the intent that our families bear the inevitable consequences.
How’s this for advocating for discrimination and its attendant consequences?
In an analysis of Legislative Proposals on the Non-discrimination of Homosexual Persons, the CDF repeated that “the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder” and extended this principle to civil law. ” ‘Sexual orientation’ does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination,” said the document. “There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account.” The obvious areas were adoption and education, but the CDF sought broader precedents for antigay legislation in housing and employment, noting that “the state may restrict the exercise of rights, for example, in the case of contagious or mentally ill persons.” If homosexual orientation was sick and infectious, why should purification stop at the priesthood?
We’re “intrinsically disordered” “mentally ill” persons whose rights the state may restrict “in the case of contagion”? The areas of discrimination include (but are not limited to?) adoption, education, housing, and employment?
It’s the same thing Bush tried to do when he advocated writing discrimination into the U.S. constitution, and in the same breath said people should be treated with respect and dignity. How you treat someone with respect and dignity and discriminate against them at the same time is beyond me. It’s the same “love the sinner, hate the sin” fallacy that I’ve addressed before, that’s indistinguishable from hatred because it inflicts exactly the same kind of pain on the people it’s aimed at.
There are times when I wonder if we lose something of ourselves by not calling things what they are. Do we give people a pass they don’t deserve, because they are able to hide behind their religious beliefs? When people gather for the express purpose of denying equality to another group of people, what else can we call it but hate?
From a religious perspective, is it really possible to love someone that you don’t see as an equal? Is it possible to see someone as less than equal without hatred, or without at least contempt? If so, how?
From my perspective, either you see me as equal or you don’t. If you don’t, as far as I’m concerned it amounts to hate – and the actions taken to maintain inequality stem from hatred. I don’t care if it’s for religious reasons. If you can’t see me as equal – and treat me as equal – then you have to see me as (even slightly) less than human. You can’t really see me as equal and still deny me equal treatment. That’s called having your cake and eating it too.
I’ve heard all I can stand of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” My gayness is not what I do. It’s a part of who I am – who I’ve always been. It’s what I feel – have always felt – in my heart. Even if I became celibate (giving up my partner and my son), I would still be the same gay person. I would still feel the same in my heart.
My gayness is not something I do. It’s part of who I am, and what is in my heart. Hate it, and you hate who I am. You hate what is in my heart. You hate me.
It’s that simple. Isn’t it?
Yeah. I think it is. And as far as I’m concerned, Ratzinger has a long record of promoting hatred and discrimination in the name of religion; advocating for and erecting the same kind of barriers and divisions he decries as impediments to “a world of justice and peace.” Like many other people he doesn’t get that justice doesn’t mean “just us.” So, when he talks about overcoming preconceived ideas and prejudices, he’s either speaking with a forked tongue or pointing out the speck in everyone else’s eye while ignoring the log in his own.
Either way, my response is “Papa, don’t preach.” Because you don’t really mean it anyway
Update: Pam has a post up indicating that Papa Ratzi’s duplicity is apparently catching.