Vatican Stands Up to Catholics & Obama by Maintaining Its Anti-Gay Position

After Obama’s announcement this week calling on the UN to support gay rights as human rights and oppose murders of gay people, and a declaration that he will create a government position to monitor gay rights in the Western Hemisphere, and the commitment of 85 nations to defending gay rights, The Vatican’s representative to the UN also issued a statement on the same topic:

ARCHBISHOP TOMASI

“The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”

Sounds good, right? Except he wasn’t talking about gays. He was talking about the rights of straight Catholics.

The Vatican’s position, which is perhaps not actually a surprise but still more or less the worst possible response by a major world power to Obama’s decision and the decision of 85 other nations, is that this move represents a desire to stigmatize and punish people who express unpopular opinions or convictions, especially if they’re religiously based.

“When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatized, and worse — they are vilified, and prosecuted,” [Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi] said on Tuesday.

Tomasi (and presumably the Pope, whom he basically represents in this capacity) believe that the proposed UN focus on ending the murder of gay people worldwide would constitute attacking those who “do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex.”

Aside from the most obvious problem with this picture – the insistence of the (mostly) white men in the giant silken hats and robes who live in a walled-off palace city and literally sit on thrones in gilded rooms that they are being discriminated against and “prosecuted” by an effort to end violence against marginalized communities – there’s the recurrence of an issue that we see a lot of when protection for vulnerable communities is brought up. There’s a complete lack of distinction here between ending violence against an oppressed minority and somehow forcing people to support that minority. And in doing so, they’re asserting that their own freedom to publicly express any convictions they hold without ever being held responsible for any consequences they might have is more important than the lives of millions of people. As Alternet says, “The Vatican seems to be taking a page out of FRC’s playbook by intentionally ignoring that in some countries, folks aren’t merely expressing a “moral belief” about homosexuality.”

This is a more explicit example of what happened in California during the buildup to the Prop 8 ballot vote. The law only asked straight people to held end the marginalization of queer people by allowing marriage equality to simply exist – something which would have required literally zero effort or change on their part. But the perception in the general public was that the law somehow required them to “support” or somehow “agree with” homosexuality – going so far that PSAs for Protect Marriage featured the completely fabricated and erroneous assertion that children would be “taught homosexuality” in schools if Prop 8 wasn’t passed, and that teachers and parents both would somehow be required to “condone” it. It’s a pretty incredible leap to make from the assertion that the legal ceremony of marriage shouldn’t have a gender requirement, or in the Vatican’s case, from the suggestion that we should take action when gay people fear for their lives the world over because they were unlucky enough to be born into a country that think they can only be ‘cured’ or killed.

This might just be worthy of a shrug and a roll of the eyes at the Vatican, whose track record on issues of homosexuality has always been pretty deplorable. But it gets more interesting in light of the recent finding that Catholics as a group are in fact very accepting of homosexuality, at least compared to other major American religious groups:

Catholics are more supportive of legal recognition of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall. Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship… A majority of Catholics (56%) believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender [are] not a sin. Among the general population, less than half (46%) believe it is not a sin.

The Pope is not a politician; although his words are often hugely influential in the political and cultural discourse of many countries, he is not beholden to the opinions and desires of his constituency the way an elected official is. The fact that everyday practicing Catholics seem to differ so radically from their spiritual leaders on this issue doesn’t mean the Pope is in any way obligated to change. But it does make one question who exactly the Vatican is referring to when they defend the hypothetical person’s right to oppose homosexuality, since they must be aware that that description no longer fits much of their religious community. Whose “moral beliefs” is the Vatican actually trying to protect? Their own? Or those of the global systems of power in general – those people that the UN is actively trying to identify and work against? It’s been increasingly apparent for a while now that the leadership of Catholicism is diverging from the people who actually practice it, and this is just one more brick in the wall between the Vatican and those church members standing on the side of the road with supportive handpainted signs during Pride. Whether they know it or not, the real danger may not be from “stigmatizing” UN officials, but instead from their own clutching at a religious interpretation of fear and division rather than love and unity.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1086 articles for us.

60 Comments

  1. Well I’m italian and most of the people at the question “Are you catholic?” answer “yes but I’m not praticant”, which basically often means “yeah but I don’t agree with the Pope”.
    The fact is that the Pope is not a politician, but actually influences decision. To make an example we have a lot less hour of sexual education than most of the other european countries and we’re practically the only country in UE without ANY form of recognition for same sex couple. Even our “progressist” party (I guess it’s near to american democratic one) does not have in their program gay marriage or civil unions. Basically we’re in deep s**t.

    • I’m Italian too! You are the first one I find on Autostraddle!

      I completely agree with what you said about the ingerence of the Pope in Italian politics. Although most people only relatively care about what he says, if at all, it does have an impact on the actions of our politicians. The sexual education program in Italy is basically a joke and even our most liberal parties have very few things to say about gay rights…
      Like Rachel pointed out, however, the words of the Pope do not necessarely represent the opinions of all Catholics or all Italians (although you can find plenty of homophobia here too, of course). Most young people I know give no credit at all to the Pope and the Church as an institution in general. If they are religious, it is more in a spiritual sense. This does not apply to some older generations….

      ps: Non ci posso credere di aver trovato un’altra italiana… Mi ero convinta ormai di essere l’unica! Di dove sei? Io abito a Roma.

      • Of course there are worse situation,but most of the East European countries came out recently from a dictature, while we have been in a democratic and formally laical state since 1946.

        Sono di Bologna 😉

      • Hi there, I’ve been here since forever and you two are the first Italians I find in here. I’ve been living in Rome for 10+ years but I’ve been travelling to London quite often in the past 6 months or so (half time Rome and half time London). Anyway, seems like the first Italian Meet-an-Autostraddler gathering might not be too far away.

        PS: I WILL NOT COMMENT ON THIS POST I HAVE WAY TOO MUCH TO SAY

  2. “And in doing so, they’re asserting that their own freedom to publicly express any convictions they hold without ever being held responsible for any consequences they might have is more important than the lives of millions of people. As Alternet says, ‘The Vatican seems to be taking a page out of FRC’s playbook by intentionally ignoring that in some countries, folks aren’t merely expressing a “moral belief” about homosexuality.'”

    It absolutely blows my mind that something like murder can be considered people “asserting…their own freedom to publicly express any convictions”. And let’s be honest here, it’s a slippery slope between allowing blatent discrimination to condoning violence against minorities.

    • “something like murder can be considered people “asserting…their own freedom to publicly express any convictions”

      really, I don’t know what else these guys can do before they’re considered international criminals and banned from the face of the earth

  3. I beg to read the full context of the quotes you used Miss Rachel K.

    There was a string of logical thoughts for Archbishop Tomasi that was taken out of context:

    “In his statement, Tomasi said the Vatican “condemn all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts, or sexual behaviors.”

    The Vatican also rejects all legal discrimination “based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.”

    But the Vatican envoy said that there is an international “consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law,” citing pedophilia and incest as examples.”

    It is politically incorrect to accuse the church of something it never said, please respect the minds of people and stop the brainwashing.

    If someone wants to voice out that in his opinion homosexuality is not the norm, then fine, they should not be prosecuted or stigmatized, and vice versa of course. This is called freedom of speech, Article 2 – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    * Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

    THAT is what the Church is saying, and I totally agree with these statements as a Lesbian Catholic. After all, the Church is me and my community(ies), and I am well represented.
    Respectfully, if you’re not a believer, don’t bash people (by misinterpreting their churches) and creating problems that might exist only because of faulty leads like this.

    P.S. Regardless of my opinion about the ‘usatoday’ article, I am re-posting the link so everyone can check it -since you took the quotes from- for themselves:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-24-gay_Catholics_23_ST_N.htm?csp=34news

    I am a constant reader of Autostraddle and I write my opinion respectfully. Please try to be the voice of all gay people around the world since you are read around the globe as well.

    • That doesn’t really change the fact that the Church is preaching for open discrimination of a select group of people… I find it hard to sympathize at all with their protests against their human rights being “violated”.

      And, obviously, the Church has a very sickening interpretation on what’s morally acceptable and not, so there goes that credibility…

    • Thanks for the context, Deedee. I think it’s just easy to assume the Catholic Church’s official position on this sort of thing because of their past history, etc., although I certainly recognize that this is not necessarily fair. That being said, Rachel’s interpretation of his commentary seems to be the norm, as seen on the Advocate, PerezHilton, USAtoday, etc. Whether or not that’s right seems to be fairly complicated.

      In an effort to get the “unadulterated” context (whatever that means in journalism), I finally traced what SEEMS to be the original article back to Reuters, though: http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE72L4XU20110322

      I couldn’t find a transcript of that particular conversation with The United Nations Human Rights Council, though– it seems to not be available unfiltered.

      My two cents, then, would be on this: “‘The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.'” The so-called “attacks,” where Catholics in particular are being “villified” for the Church’s position against the supposedly sexually deviant community, does not seem to be on par with the attacks faced by the LGBT community. It’s true that the Catholic church insisted (according to Reuters) that “Tomasi also said the Vatican believed in the inherent dignity of all human beings and condemned all violence against people because of their sexual orientation or behaviour.”

      But what seems to me to be at stake here is whose “human rights” are we protecting more? I think (and this will probably get me in trouble, but here it goes) that in a case where either group is at risk for violence against them, they should be the ones who need the most protection. I can’t find figures addressing the types of violence perpetrated against the Church or it’s devout followers, but I do know that the slaughter of queers in Uganda or the “correction rape” of lesbians in South Africa IS HAPPENING, and needs to be taken extremely serious and addressed directly by international law.

      • I completely agree. My main questions in response to this is: “How are Catholics being persecuted for openly discriminating against homosexuals?”, and “If their ‘religious beliefs’ are infringing upon the basic HUMAN RIGHTS of LGBT people, then whose human rights are more important to preserve?”. Like you say, GP, hopefully basic moral guidance would dictate that the group who is MOST AT RISK should be protected.

        How many stories have we heard about an LGBT person murdering a Christian for expressing those beliefs? Now, how many cases are there of people murdering LGBT people because they morally object to differing sexualities?

      • You point out the difference between ideas and facts, but that’s exactly where the Vatican wants to have an impact.

        They want to poison the healthy relationship whereby good ideas are used by a community of humans to better their factual lives (reality).

        They want to make sure ideas and facts stay separate so that humans will always remain at a brutal/animal-like level.

        Their ultimate goal is polluting the distinction between ideas and facts in order to prevent progress and maintain suffering and unhappiness and demand for their services along with it.

        It’s a business strategy you guys! And this organization has been in business for over 1,700 years, so, you know, they’re not newbies.

    • I respect your faith and position, but I think the accusation of brainwashing goes too far. After all, the Catholic Church DOES put homosexuality in the same league as pedophilia and incest, as the Archbishop’s own language indicates. It’s deeply disturbing to me that the Catholic church would consistently choose to place homosexuality in this context, which is obviously meant to inspire repulsion and anger. Why take this approach, rather than speaking within the context of the sacraments, why they’re foundational, and why they don’t change (as in the sacrament of ordination)? I didn’t find any of Rachel K’s statements to be particularly off-the-mark. The Catholic Church opposes sex that’s outside of the sacrament of marriage, which means that gay families cannot exist, and the gay feelings that they “don’t condemn” are not meant to have any real outlet–which, as out gay people, we know is agonizing.

      • The Catholic church’s attitude to homosexuality does seem to go beyond its theological objection. My reading of the Catechism is that homosexuality is a sin because it is non-procreative sex, and therefore on par with using contraception or (I’m not so sure on this one) masturbating. Because it is non-procreative sex, the Church has issues with gay marriage and which means it is non-procreative sex outside of marriage.

        It’s not just on the issue of homosexuality that the Catholic church is out of touch with the community — I have heard reports that missionaries in Africa WILL and do support condom use in the aim of preventing AIDS, despite the objections of their superiors.

        The Catholic church still doesn’t recognise divorce, so change is probably going to take a while.

        I just wish that Catholic bashing could be confined to the upper echelons of the church — most Catholics I know are good people who support using contraception, are accepting of gays and do not care about the strictures on divorce except to complain that they can’t have a second church wedding. The Catholic side of my family are more supportive than the aetheists.

        • Yes. My father was once a member of the clergy and is still employed by the church as a theologian. Both of my parents are incredibly supportive, and I’ve been able to discuss with them my interpretation that the Church’s attitude is hostile not just to gays or even to sexuality but (by extension) to a broad swath of the human condition. They’ve been able to be receptive about that and even agree on many points, while still able to argue for the validity of Catholic mysticism and ritual. I’m no longer a Catholic, but the activities of the church leadership continue to baffle me. And give me feelings.

    • @ Deedee: “The Vatican envoy said that there is an international ‘consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law,’ citing pedophilia and incest as examples.”

      The examples used by the Vatican are not relevant to discussions about homosexuality (and hence the Vatican logic FAILS). Pedophilia (of which the Church is all-too familiar) and incest are entirely separate sexual behaviors that have nothing in common with a person’s sexual orientation (same-gender attraction being commonly referred to as homosexuality) that is part of a person’s core being.

      There is NO international consensus that regards as immoral homosexual orientation or consenting sex acts between persons of the same gender (and legal age). In fact, the opposite is true. Many religions, societies and nations (at least 10 countries currently sanction same-gender marriages) throughout history have accepted and celebrated same sex attractions.

      Consensual homosexual acts between adults are illegal in only 1/3rd of the countries in the world today. (Of the 70 or so countries–out of 195–with sodomy laws, 40 of them only outlaw male homosexuality. Unfortunately, 7 of those have a death penalty provision for gay sex. If Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” bill passes, it would become the 8th such nation.

      So the logic that the Catholic Church is somehow being persecuted by those seeking equal rights for gays and lesbians is ludicrous. No one is stoning Bishops to death or nailing pedophile priests to crosses (or hanging them for that matter). Their argument is especially egregious when you realize it is the same Catholic Church that is leading the charge in the U.S. (and spending millions of dollars that could otherwise go to help the poor, sick and hungry) to demonize civil unions and oppose marriage equality to lesbians like you.

      • “Vatican Logic” = best oxymoron ever

        Of course what they say does not have a formal logic, but it is logical in the sense that it is consistent with their business strategy, and guys, never forget that the Catholic Church is the greatest business to ever exist in the history of (wo)mankind. The oldest, longest-surviving, comparatively richest organization of ALL TIME.

        • And the only thing they sell is a special kind of happiness that only they can give you, to demand which you are required to be extremely unhappy and insensitive to all the other “goods / commodities / services / people” that are meant to make you happier. So if you start being interested in something that really makes you happy that they don’t control, they immediately go out of business. And trust me, trust me because I live close to these guys: THEY DON’T WANT TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS

  4. Man, yeah, it is so fucking rough out there when you murder gay people and you get stigmatized for it. Like, people are gonna think you’re some kind of murderer or something, but you’re just expressing yourself.

    OH WAIT RIGHT I hate the Church and everything it stands for. Jesus fucking Christ, the Bible puts “Thou shalt not kill” in the 10 Commandments and puts homosexuality on par with removing mold from fabric, IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL. Probably killing is, so maybe you should think about that for awhile, Catholic church.

  5. Before saying anything that shows that I have a brain and plan to use it, I’m going allow my inner 14-year-old boy to say that he totally digs the bj picture.

    Anyway. The Catholic church isn’t being discriminated against, they’re being asked to use their [enormous amount of] power responsibly. To refuse to stand up for a group of people that are being persecuted and to claim that they’re the ones actually suffering is un-Christian.

    • the Catholic Church is not Christian. They worked for centuries against literacy, actively preventing the spread of literacy, because they were afraid people could actually read the Bible themselves if they learned to read.

      They persecuted people who translated the Bible into a language people actually spoke. Their aim has always been to CONTROL people’s views of Christ, banning people from developing a personal / individual view of Christ, in order to maintain POWER over people and exploit them.

  6. I want to officially leave the Catholic church but they got rid of the get out clause they originally had, you could take your name off the Catholic register via a website but they got their priestly lawers on it and now that’s not an option anymore….how do I escape the church without changing to another religion?? I know I already consider myself completely separate from them but because they have me on their register since I was baptised they count me officially amongst one of their followers, I want nothing to do with them at all, they’ve ruined so many live in this country, they disgust me! I mean look at the website people used to use to escape- countmeout.ie, “suspended due to a change in canon law…” are we stuck to be considered as catholics forever?!!

    • I saw a comment to a recent pandagon post that made it sound like it was really difficult, involves lots of paperwork, and is expensive to get your name off the rolls (but they didn’t go into details about what it took – for reference it’s comment 110 by Mimi on the ‘Most Catholics Not Assholes, New Research Shows’ post). So I think there’s a way to do it, but they’ve purposely made it super hard so that they can claim a higher membership then they really have.

      I can’t talk, I was baptized SDA and I have no idea how to get my name off their membership lists.

    • Hey Lou: You should start a Facebook page that let’s people officially resign from the RCC. Good luck! Try something along the lines of —

      Dear Pope (and the rest of your Vatican tribe):

      We the undersigned do hereby renounce and officially state that we are no longer members of the Holy Roman Empire or the Roman Catholic Church and by this posting hereby request that our names be stricken from the official rolls.

      As God is our witness, we have fully and without reservation agreed to and signed on the dates indicated.

      • Yes that used to be the way but that’s not allowed anymore for some reason….and to make it worse the people who had done that previously were put back on the register because it was declared illegal or some such to leave the church that way! I mean if they dont even get rid of priests who abuse children (you’re more like to be excomunnicated if you try to ordain a woman priest!) what hope do the rest of us have of leaving! I may give the Facebook thing a go though, thanks for the replies.:-)

  7. Can I just say how fucking sick I am of people with power and privilege whining about being persecuted because oppressed groups don’t want them to force other people to live (or even die) according to their beliefs? So fucking sick.

    That goes for the Christians who whine that allowing gays to marry/have jobs/exsist violates their religious freedom, that goes for any asshole who whines that having legal abortion violates their personal beliefs, and that even goes for that asshole who, upon overhearing me mention to a friend that I’m a vegetarian, got in my face and said that since he’s a rancher, it’s as if I kicked down his door, stole the food of his kids’ table and dragged his wife out by her hair and forced her to work at a gas station (I really didn’t like living in Wyoming, you guys).

    I don’t even bother trying to rationalize or discuss the issues in question with these people. I just take a cue from Rage Against the Machine: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” And then I smile. It drives them nuts.

  8. i know i am an arrogant shithead when I say this, but jesus i am so bored with anyone who is invested in religion. how intellectually uninterested can someone be to not realize that any belief in any sort of organized, personified creation myth or what have you in the long scope of things is not just some fanciful construct. one has to willfully disavow any sort of knowledge of past/historic religious behavior (pre-judaism/christian) and/or suspend any sort of rational understanding of how the world works.

    As a result it makes me both confused and disillusioned that anyone takes the Vatican (or any religious body) seriously and/or thinks they should have any input into anything that has to do with anyone’s rights at a state level. I guess I really mean: you can believe whatever insane thing you want, but the minute it attempts to influence the laws/rules/official governance: we are done. Keep your crazy to yourself and all will be well.

    • “it makes me both confused and disillusioned that anyone takes the Vatican (or any religious body) seriously and/or thinks they should have any input into anything that has to do with anyone’s rights at a state level”

      Exactly. At this point I would tolerate it only in terms of comic value added, as in “let’s hear what this hilarious guys will have to say this time LMAO”.

      Unfortunately there’s nothing to laugh about yet, because apparently politicians are listening quite seriously. But at the same time we’re probably getting there, you know.

  9. Rachel, thanks for your thoughts. Here’s hoping that the majority of Catholics who don’t buy this hypocritical bigotry (thanks for making that distinction, btw) start speaking up and doing something about it.

    FYI for anyone who is interested, there’s an organization called Dignity USA for LGBT Catholics. I don’t know much about it, BUT I do know that they’re definitely working to give people an alternative to the Vatican’s nonsense. It seems like they have a lot of resources and such on their website.

  10. To all Catholics abroad (I mean non Italian Catholics as Italy is a Vatican’s theocracy by now): immediately lose all hope that you will gain something by VOICING your opinions within the Catholic Church. These guys couldn’t care less about minorities (starting from minorities within their organization). It is a dictatorship, the Pope decides everything, he will sanction dissidents and reward compliance to his rulings. I hate to break it to you, but it’s been like this for almost 2,000 years.

    The Catholic Church is not on this earth to change. Change is not their business. It’s on this earth to provide people with spiritual certainties based on tradition and raw empirics (basic needs like food, water, shelter). They want to ensure that humans desire nothing besides the basics and that they fight against each other to obtain the basics. They want injustice to prevail and are terrorized by progress, which is supposed to make the journeys of our lives a bit easier. They go for the old ways of obtaining happiness and safety, like having lots of children (= weak human beings) to exploit and steal from.

    • Barbara, you don’t really want Catholics to give up hope for change, trust me. The support I’ve received from Catholic allies – including two priests and several church staff members – has been extremely helpful (arguably necessary) to my own coming out process. I don’t know what sort of Catholic communities you’re familiar with, but I think most Catholics would agree with me that the attitudes of our immediate communities are far more important to wellbeing than the pontifications of a bunch of old guys in Rome. Those attitudes are exactly what every Catholic (Italian or otherwise) can start changing “immediately.”

      Many allies, particularly those with an official position within the Church, choose to be discrete with their support. They figure they can be of greater help to LGBT Catholics if they’re not excommunicated. Sad, yes. Reason for the immediate despair you seem to advocate, absolutely not. In fact, this is an opportunity for lay people to step up and lead. Priests may get in trouble for publicly opposing the Vatican, but everyone else is entitled to her own opinion and accountable to her own conscience.

      I am Catholic, I am queer and I am hopeful because I know that Catholic activists are making a difference. The Vatican is already trying its best to silence us – please don’t join them by discounting the power of our voices.

      • unfortunately, not all local catholic communities are like this. i’m glad you have found a supportive catholic community, but its not always the case. after coming out, i was made to talk to a priest who tried to tell me that i was only gay because i needed affection from my mother. i’ve been told by many ccd teachers of mine that gays were created to be servants to straight catholics (no, really). we have had several visitors come by and speak to us, and while they’re pushing whatever it is they’re trying to, they will make homophobic jokes. i know that these attitudes i encountered also have a lot to do with the fact that my church is from an area that is mainly hispanic, but also, there are several non-hispanic communities that will do whatever the vatican says even if its hurting the young catholics. the vatican’s power is scary. no religious organization should try to be a political influence, especially when what they want is hurtful to a minority that has a long, continuing history of persecution.

      • The fact is that we’re not even close to the right direction. Ratzinger was like, the worst candidate to be the pope. Ever. He is the most conservator (Is this expression correct?) between conservators.Think way worse Sara Palin, with a dictator power (creepy). After all what you can expect from someone who says condom is not useful and you must avoid to use it?
        I’m not saying that all catholic members are bad. Far from it, in fact I knew a priest when I was 12 which was actually a very nice person. But they don’t have any power. And till some cardinal is still allowed to say that gay people are all sick perverts,without receiving any complaint or ammonition from the Pope,things won’t change.
        What catholic church need is a change on top.

        • I agree with you. Ratzinger was the worst person they could have chosen as Pope, especially after someone as open-minded and close to the youth as Pope Wojtyla. How can you actually visit Africa, a continent where millions of people every year die or are infected from AIDS, and actually argue that you shouldn’t use condoms? It goes beyond religion, beyond insanity.
          Many Catholics are wonderful people, and I have met open-minded priests whose priority was helping the people in their community, despite religious or sexual diversity. However, this has nothing to do with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and as many people here have already said, nothing can change until the people on top change, and, sadly, I don’t think they ever will.

      • “I don’t know what sort of Catholic communities you’re familiar with”

        I’m familiar with Italian Catholics = 95% of Italian population = ~50 million people. We don’t have a special national Catholic Church, we have THE Catholic Church itself, the HeadQuarters, particularly in Rome where I’ve been living for 10+ years.

        “the attitudes of our immediate communities are far more important to wellbeing than the pontifications of a bunch of old guys in Rome. Those attitudes are exactly what every Catholic (Italian or otherwise) can start changing immediately.”

        Ok, this is getting hard to explain. Church in Europe (and esp Italy) is not the same as Church in the USA. You have communities, we have institutions. When the Vatican is not directly being funded by the State (as in Spain and esp Italy), in the luckiest cases we have national churches that are directly controlled and funded by the State (Anglican, Swedish Lutheran, etc.)

        The State deliberately transfers tax-payer money to the Church (through concordats for the Catholic Church and by directly controlling the national protestant churches in the other states). We don’t have a clear separation of Church and State. That’s why so many more Europeans are atheists when compared to Americans, because being religious in Europe means being subject to some powerful authority as opposed to belonging to a small community where you can have your say.

        In other words we have big institutional / hierarchical churches where what happens at the bottom level has little to no significance to systemic, higher level change.

        Having said this you could argue that a wind of change could come from the USA where church communities are smaller and more independent. The point is, MOST communities are like that but Catholic communities by definition are subject to the Rome HeadQuarters. The Catholic Church is one, “the one and only” in the words of the Pope, and does not tolerate difference as long as it is not irrelevant. So all you can have is the illusion of independence, because once you become troublesome you are excommunicated / fired. And once this happens you may still well be yourself and a happy person but the point is, you’re not Catholic Church anymore. When Martin Luther became troublesome they kicked him away and he had to start calling himself / his religion something ELSE.

        So you see, within Catholicism, there is no room for change, unless it comes from the top (eg Rome). But unless you’re a homophobic bigot, you don’t make it to the top. Many wise popes, elected let’s say by mistake, have been forced to resign or have been killed. These are facts.

        “Reason for the immediate despair you seem to advocate, absolutely not.”

        I was not advocating despair in any way, just recommending a change of church, I mean stay away from those people as much as you can.

        “In fact, this is an opportunity for lay people to step up and lead. Priests may get in trouble for publicly opposing the Vatican, but everyone else is entitled to her own opinion and accountable to her own conscience.”

        Exactly, too bad lay people are the first category the Vatican considers “inferior” (look at the way they dress and the way believers need to stand on their knees, do you think this is by chance) and discriminates by telling them they are not free / able to take autonomous decisions and need to abide by their teachings (they call “God teaching” whatever it is THEY human beings in flesh and bones want to teach).

        “I am Catholic, I am queer and I am hopeful because I know that Catholic activists are making a difference. The Vatican is already trying its best to silence us – please don’t join them by discounting the power of our voices.”

        I wasn’t trying to discount the power of your voices, just suggesting that your voice would be so much more powerful if expressed in the context of another church / association / community that doesn’t silence / thrash you.

  11. Thank you to everyone who replied to my post, I’m sorry I do not have much time to reply to each post but I figure there should be some clarifications to make.

    Firstly, I’m never going to even discuss the discrimination and abuse every single homosexual person is subjected to, after all I’m in the same hole as everyone in here. Be it from Christians or Non-Christians.

    Secondly, it is a fact that homosexuality in life is the most difficult to understand biologically and psychologically, science can go only little in this field. So, -imo and the Church’s- every person should rely on love, respect, humility and mercy to accept homosexual people until a path somehow emerges.

    This same love is what we lacked and are still lacking since we were created (or since we existed to non-believers). This is our main problem as Church, other religions or non-believers.

    Thus, I respect and personally am trying to find ways to improve my Church’s development towards a better understanding of practical life actions.

    But please let me point out that some said that the Church puts Homosexuality, Incest and Pedophilia within the same range which is totally incorrect.

    I won’t be discussing theology now. However, I’d be more than glad if anyone is interested in knowing better about this subject, maybe AS can create a special topic to clarify what the Church states and thinks, thus to discuss and debate and widen all our perspectives.

    In conclusion, I noted that my post triggered many responses that are not really relevant to what I posted.

    If the numbers of gay acceptance is positively high among Catholics, this means that their Church representatives are doing Better, there is no mystery and questioning about this. Starting from this, all constructive criticism is welcome imo. Just to get somewhere better for us all.

    • I’d be glad to comment on this special topic you are suggesting the creation of because that’s where I’d collect the many references I have that argue / prove the belief the Church puts Homosexuality, Incest and Pedophilia within the same range is totally correct.

    • “If the numbers of gay acceptance is positively high among Catholics, this means that their Church representatives are doing Better”

      No, the reason why gay acceptance is higher among US Catholics than other US religious communities is because Catholics are generally tolerant of what is generally considered deviant. No, really.

      Do you know anything about Italian politics? Why do you think our country is fucked up? Because Italians (influenced by their centuries-old Catholic mentality) will tolerate any mishap, any crime, any shit perpetrated by anyone. The country is a chaos. No one has rules, it is like a big jungle full of humans.

      Thanks to the Vatican (to me Vatican and Italy are pretty much the same thing) Italy has been one of the first country in the world to depenalize homosexuality (back in the 19th century), yet we struggle to achieve any positive LGBT right. Because we’re good at tolerating the bad, but we don’t want to think that the bad can actually become good and have some good in it, because that would mean change, and we are allergic to change.

      If the US Catholic communities are more tolerant of LGBTs, that’s because LGBTs are still considered deviant and they are tolerant of deviant behavior. With time, as the LGBTs are considered less deviant and more “normal”, this difference in the tolerance level will disappear.

      • I totally agree.
        The roots of what you said are even in the gospel (wow il Vangelo si chiama gospel). Just the most common example Maria Maddalena is an adulterous woman and a prostitute. Actually no one sees Maddalena in a bad way, she is a woman on the wrong way which recovered from it, “the one without sin throws the first rock” etc. So you can say that catholics are pretty tolerant. Even confession is a symbol of this conception. Sin is accepted, if you repent. You will be judged by God, but if you repent you will go to purgatory, not hell. The fact is that homosexuality, prostitution, adultery are sin.
        They can tolerate you, but the tolerance is a “strategy” to convince you to repent and change your ways.

  12. I must say, Deedee, that I think it is unfair to ask one particular blogger on one particular website to be the voice of all gay people in the world. Autostraddle indeed reports about world wide issues, but does so with plenty of the biases and opinions maintained by their bloggers. I don’t come to Autostraddle for my straight-up news- I come here for the queered up news- sorry, I couldn’t hold that back. I believe the author’s interpretation is as valid as yours, and just that.

    Former Catholic- and proud!

  13. I think its ironic that the Vatican has so much too say about gay people when they should be concentrating on eradicating the pedophiles from amongst their flock who keep robbing the children of their innocence. Don’t hide the sins by paying out so much money publicly condemn the sinners for what they have been doing for so many decades.

  14. As someone baptised as a Catholic and who went to Catholic school I am completely unsurprised by this. Other commenters have said that there are nice Catholics out there, and that may be true, but I’ve never met one. At 13, before I knew that I was gay, I already knew that there was something fundamentally fucked up about a religion who showed a classroom of teenage girls a video of a late term abortion and called that sex education.
    I can’t ever see them changing their stance on homosexuality, or abortion or contraception. I mostly just hope that their antiquated beliefs and dwindling numbers cause them to, eventually, cease to exist.

  15. diver, I don’t fuck homophobic men. 😛

    The Vatican is out-of-date (to pretend they were ever in). Let’s dethrone them.

    Meanwhile, I’ll be over here making out with women who actually understand how to love.

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