Join the 21st century, please

Other than Westboro Baptist Church, I can’t think of any organisation more vehemently opposed to gay rights and equal marriage than the Roman Catholic Church.

My computer has been down and I’m still rebuilding my bookmarks. One of those bookmarks I added today is  Today I noticed an article that said on May 2, Rhode Island signed into law a bill legalising same-sex marriage, the tenth state to so do.  Good for Rhode Island.

The Roman Catholic Church has been in opposition to anything involving the LGBT community for years as evidenced by some of Benedict XVI’s pronouncements on the topic.  The Roman Catholic Bishop of Rhode Island seems to be carrying on where the pope emeritus left off.  Following the passing of this new law, the Bishop has reportedly said that Roman Catholics should carefully consider their involvement with, or attendance at, any gay marriages lest they jeopardize their relationship with God.  Let me see if I have this straight – the Roman Catholic Church preaches that their God is a God of love, yet if Roman Catholics attend a ceremony in which two people of the same sex proclaim their love for each other,  God won’t love them anymore.  Does that sound like a fair interpretation of the Bishop’s comment?

Of course, this is the same official who stated in January 2013 that equal marriage poses a threat to religious freedom.  From various pronouncements issuing from Rome on a wide range of topics, I have the impression that the Roman Catholic Church defines “religious freedom” as following the teachings of that church blindly.

We are in the second decade of the twenty-first century.  During the twentieth century, people learned to think for themselves; to question what they are told and, if necessary, reject teachings that are at odds with their own beliefs.  The last half of the last century saw the gay community make great strides in acceptance, not only socially, but legally as well.  The days are long past when the Roman Catholic Church, or any other religious institution, can expect automatic unquestioning  acceptance of their pronouncements and instructions.  Today, the church has to learn to accept and adjust to the realities of the twenty-first secular world if it is keep itself relevant.


A very fine line

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.