Whether the Pope realizes it or not, he is in a position most people would call untenable. As head of the Roman Catholic Church, he is expected to, as he did in France this past week, defend the traditional definition of marriage. To quote from the article on Pink News website, “Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself”. This statement is acceptable considering he is, as I wrote, head of the Roman Catholic Church and he was speaking to a conclave of bishops. The article also mentions that in his year end speech in 2008, he made comments opposing the acceptance of transgender people.
But where the statements, and motives become questionable is that Pope Benedict XVI is also a head of state. Vatican City, while surrounded by the city of Rome, is not part of that city. It is an independent city-state, a nation in other words, and the Pope is the head of that nation. Some of his pronouncements could be construed as attempting to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. The statement quoted above was made in France, where the newly elected president, Francois Hollande, has promised to make same-sex marriage legal.
Many nations have passed, or are in the process of passing, legislation ensuring the trans community (transgender and transsexual) are entitled to the same legal rights as other citizens. Some nations, such as Canada, have made same-sex marriage legal. So, the question then becomes this: When Benedict speaks on these topics, is he speaking as head of the Church, in which case the comments are acceptable or is he speaking as head of state of Vatican City, in which case he would be attempting to influence the internal affairs of other nations? And how is one expected to tell the difference? As I said, Benedict walks a very fine line.
And on that note, I’ll go now.
Enjoy the first weekend of autumn and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.