Pope Attacks LGBT Equality in Christmas Speech

Pope Benedict XVI

I get why the Pope supports what many call “traditional family values.” I don’t agree, but the Catholic Church’s positions on Gay Marriage, LGBT rights and sexual identity are deeply rooted in the tradition of the institution. But while many are engaging people on both the left and right in meaningful conversation on issues like this (see Justin Lee’s Gay Christian Network and Andrew Marin’s Marin Foundation), others endeavor to squash the dialogue and further the perception that there is a war underway for the soul of the culture.

And when that message comes from the head of the Catholic Church, a sobering portion of the global population takes notice.

I’m actually friends with Andrew Marin, and he was telling me recently about an invitation he had earlier this year to speak at the Vatican to the papal leadership known as the Vatican Council. His aim was to engender a more nuanced understanding of the lives affected when divisive rhetoric is used around this issue and how we might seek to take a more Christ-like approach to the discussion going forward.

That’s what I got from his description of it anyway. Strangely, my invitation to speak to the Vatican Council must have gotten lost in the mail. Anyway…

I was encouraged by the very fact that the Vatican would invite Andrew to speak to them. That, in itself, seemed to indicate an encouraging step in the right direction. And although the Council can hardly dictate the agenda or language chosen by the Pope, I was discouraged by the profound disconnect between what this invitation seemed to suggest and what the Pope said recently to the same Vatican bureaucracy. Following is excerpted from a piece that appeared on the Huffington Post Religion section:

Benedict XVI made the comments in his annual Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy, one of his most important speeches of the year. He dedicated it this year to promoting traditional family values in the face of gains by same-sex marriage proponents in the U.S. and Europe and efforts to legalize gay marriage in places like France and Britain.

In his remarks, Benedict quoted the chief rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, in saying the campaign for granting gays the right to marry and adopt children was an “attack” on the traditional family made up of a father, mother and children.

“People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” he said. “They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned,” he said.

Taking a firm stand based on one’s religious convictions is one thing, but how should anyone within the LGBT community perceive the Pope’s comments as anything less than dehumanizing? He claims that to be gay is to engage in a deplorable manipulation of human nature (as if someone would choose to be gay and willingly submit to such abuse from the culture) and uses the faith to further justify the denial of equal rights.

While I deeply admire the work of Marin, Lee and others who maintain hope that we may add seats to the table, expanding the conversation in a way that grows God’s Kingdom beyond ideological differences and focuses, instead, on relationship, story and the love that grows from such bonds. But When someone like Pope Benedict not only refuses a seat at the table, but also scorns the very basis for the conversation (and during an address that is meant to focus on Christmas), I have little hope that we’re making significant progress in the effort to heal.

As a side note, I think it’s at least a little bit ironic that Benedict chose his Christmas address to speak in support of “traditional family values,” considering the story of Christ’s birth: a pregnant teenage girl, unmarried but engaged to a much older man. What scandal! What did their families think? What would the world think of such a “nontraditional” family being the cradle for the birth of the Messiah?

The very fact that God found a way into such a scandalous scene and imbued it with such hope, life and beauty gives me some encouragement that God will continue to work within this conversation, even as the very church claiming God’s authority seeks to tear the table apart.

About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

  • http://twitter.com/Andrew_Marin Andrew Marin

    Close enough retelling of the story Christian… I was actually invited by the UN on behalf of the Pontificate. The Vatican Councils were the two gatherings of the whole Roman Catholic Church – one in late 1860s and the other in the 1960s.

    Anyway, the biggest lesson I learned while there, was that whatever the Pope says, the Pontificate is left to figure out how to relate to humanity after. They have no control, nor does anyone else, over what the Pope chooses to say/believe/generalize to the entire Catholic communion.

    I’ve never met the Pope, he was not at the training that I did, but I do believe the Pontificate (at least those I met) is extremely well intentioned and is truly trying to figure out how to handle the LGBT community/Catholic Church schism much, much better than every before. Which I believe they should!

    How the Catholic hierarchy is set up, no one will ever “hear directly” from the Pontificate, as the Pope is the one who does all the public speaking, etc. However, please know that the Pontificate is really trying to do a lot behind the scenes to move in more peaceful and productive dialogue. I do not have any expectation that the Catholic Church, commanded by the Vatican, will ever change their theology on LGBT relationships. The goal, and the direction I hope they move in, is one that changes their medium of engagement on the topic; because what is happening now does no good for any party involved. Much love.

    • http://www.facebook.com/christiandpiatt Christian Piatt

      Thanks for this, man. Though not entirely encouraging, certainly some glimmers of light to offer a bit of hope.

    • kenneth

      There is nothing well-intentioned about the Catholic hierarchy.

  • http://socimages.blogsome.com/ Alessandra

    All human beings are born heterosexual, because the human species is
    a heterosexual species. In that sense, heterosexuality is the
    default. So is the fact, for example, that humans are designed to
    have sex with adults and not with kids. It is the default and it is
    reflected in legal structures, mores, etc. Societies should be
    constructed on the basis of heterosexuality, on adult sex, etc.
    There is no good reason to do it differently.

    Your ideology, however, contends that individuals should never take
    responsibility for any psycho-sexual dysfunction they develop, such as homosexuality and,
    not only that, they should never resolve their sexuality problems.
    Moreover, it currently sustains impunity for an enormous amount of
    harm that LGBT individuals do in society.

    What we need to examine is how much harm people with a homosexuality
    agenda do in society with impunity, because it is very much part of
    the current “system,” especially in contexts where liberal ideology
    and its partisans are dominant.

  • baruchzed

    Ratzinger the ex Nazi is really going after gay people lately. Certainly the Vatican needs a scapegoat if they are to successfully redirect the world’s attention from their ongoing pedophilia, their financial holdings in weapons manufacturing, the latest banking scandals, and goodness knows what other nefarious misdeeds are being perpetrated in the “holy city.” Same old same old. This is how the Vatican operates. The spreading of fear and hate has long been the practice of the church.

    • Mark N

      You’re a moron, pal. Anyone with an ounce of sense would know Joseph Ratzinger was NOT a nazi, he deserted at the risk of his life (EVERYONE was a member of the Hitler Youth then…refusal was a ticket to a concentration camp). The “ongoing pedophilia” you claim is a lie…the Church has vigorously cracked down on the few pedophiles who still exist…over 90% of the cases are more than 20 years old now. The Church has no “interest” in “weapons manufacturing or those other lies you claim. You’re a malicious anti-Catholic with an axe to grind…and a fool. Shut up.

  • http://damiansawyer.tumblr.com/ Damian Sawyer

    I always wonder when I hear either side of the debate on homosexuality, whether we can really justify condemning either its advocates or its opponents while there is so much blatant evil in the World, such as famine, poverty, genocide, alcoholism and child abuse. If holding a wrong opinion is a sin, then we are all in big trouble! Jesus spent time with sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, outcasts and despised people. Not once did He condemn them, saving His anger for the religious hypocrites of His day.

    The worst thing we can do is to be like them by perpetuating the argument. The more aggressive gay rights campaigners lable anyone who disgree with them as “homophobic” – an invented term which deliberately confuses opinion with mental disorder. Those who argue that homosexuality is a sin likewise portray homosexuals as depraved. How would we feel if homosexuals were labelled “heterophobes”, or if they described all heterosexuals as depraved?

    Opinion is not the same as prejudice. I believe that homosexuality is wrong, but that persecution is much worse. Because of my faith and non-aggressive lifestyle, at various times I’ve been spat upon, had stones and broken glass thrown at me and received a death threat. How would I dare to become like my persecutors by condemning them, when Jesus tells me to love my enemies?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

      I think the problem with the way you’re portraying is that only one side seeks to legally restrict the rights of the other. The pro-gay side does not seek to criminalize heterosexuality, put heterosexuals to death, bar heterosexuals from adopting, serving in the military, getting to marry, or inheriting from their partner’s estate.

      The anti-gay side does seek all of those thing — advancing bills to put homosexuals to death in Uganda and other places, passing constitutional amendments to ban homosexuals from adopting, marrying, and inheriting in the U.S., etc. So this false equivalency is hurting the dialogue, by making it seem as if both sides are equally hurtful of each other when the reality is that the two sides are really fighting over whether or not the government should treat gay people fairly or not.

      Regardless of how the discussion progresses, heterosexual people are in no danger, while homosexual people face risks that range from financial/economic to actual physical danger.

      • http://socimages.blogsome.com/ Alessandra

        The pro-gay side seeks to have impunity for all the destruction and harm that LGBT individuals do in society. This includes complete lack of accountability for all STDs spread and the billions of dollars wasted on treatment. The pro-gay side seeks to vilify anyone who questions their ignorant views on sexuality, such as the “born this way” nonsense. The pro-gay side lies and minimizes all cases of LGBT individuals perpetrating violence, abuse, sexual harassment, and other perverse actions. The pro-gay side wants people who question their views kicked from their jobs, smeared, and expelled from school programs. In the UK, people who question LGBT propaganda are no longer allowed to be foster parents. In many places in the US, you will not get a job, or you will be fired from your job if you openly state that you question their pro-gay agenda.

        Day by day, homosexual activists become more vicious and try to trample on other people’s most fundamental rights. They want to destroy wonderful companies like Chick Fil A, they want to silence any questioning, they want society to be a normalize-homosexuality dictatorship. You can not disagree or they will retaliate and persecute you.

        • Mary

          “The pro-gay side seeks to have impunity for all the destruction and harm that LGBT individuals do in society. This includes complete lack of accountability for all STDs spread and the billions of dollars wasted on treatment.”

          In case you haven’t noticed, STD’S are not just a “gay problem” and each person who chooses to engage in unprotected sex, gay or otherwise, bears the resposponsiblity of what happens next. In fact, since most people are straight you can easily make a case for the idea that in fact most STD’s are spread by heterosexuals, not homosexuals.

          If you are talking specifically about AIDS, It is very unlikely for lesbians to contract or spread the disease. So God apparently only objects to male homosexuality? Or maybe he was only punishing the monkeys who first carried the disease???
          There is absolutely no proof that homosexuals are causing harm to the rest of society. I have no reason to object to my gay friends getting married. They just want to live their lives in peace. You should actually go out and befriend these people before making such harsh judgments against them.

          • http://alessandrareflections.wordpress.com/ Alessandra

            “In case you haven’t noticed, STD’S are not just a “gay problem” and each person who chooses to engage in unprotected sex, gay or otherwise, bears the resposponsiblity of what happens next. In fact, since most people are straight you can easily make a case for the idea that in fact most STD’s are spread by heterosexuals, not homosexuals. ”

            You’re quite wrong.

            Homosexual and bisexual men continue to be the leaders in
            infesting American society with STDs in number far beyond heterosexuals.

            Obviously this disease-spreading behavior is fueled by views
            that normalize and encourage homosexuality as legitimate. The
            rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women. The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women.

            “Monthly HIV treatment regimens range from $2,000 to $5,000 —
            much of it for drugs. With the life expectancy for HIV patients
            increasing, the lifetime cost of treatment in today’s terms is
            estimated at more than half-million dollars.” NPR

            Think about this for a minute. A homosexual who spreads HIV to 5
            other men will cause an estimated 2 to 3 million dollars of
            health care costs to society.

            There is no punishment for this.

            If he spreads HIV to 10 other men, it means 5 million dollars,
            plus his personal contribution to fueling an epidemic. One
            individual forcing the state to pay a bill of 5 million dollars,
            all because he feels entitled to be as perverted as he wishes
            regarding his sexuality and never be accountable for the harm and the damage that he causes in society. If you take 100 homosexuals doing this, the total damage in health care costs amounts to half a billion dollars.

            Who has decided that this little group of homosexuals are
            entitled to causing half a billion dollars of damage to society?
            People who say homosexuals are born that way and that they are
            not responsible for resolving their homosexuality problem.

            I think this really shows how askew the mentality about
            sexuality (and homosexuality) is in society today. There is a
            dominant view that sexuality pursuits must have priority over
            everything else, that dysfunctional sexualities like
            homosexuality are normal, and that there can be no
            accountability for harmful actions regarding hook-up
            culture/promiscuity/homosexuality.

            In 2009, there were about 30,000 new HIV infections among
            homosexual and bisexual men, that is, 15 billion dollars of
            projected cost resulting from this year alone.

          • http://alessandrareflections.wordpress.com/ Alessandra

            There was a recent case which clearly shows what
            hypocrites people who normalize homosexuality are. A
            hospital worker (Kristen D. Parker) used contaminated
            needles, infecting others with hepatitis (a deadly
            disease). To make matters more complicated, she is a
            drug addict. Now, she has been sentenced to 30 years in
            prison. 30 years! Now, if a garbage of a homosexual
            infects many other men with a deadly disease (HIV-AIDS),
            what happens? He’s called a “poor little victim,” a
            “nice little gay” – who cannot be held accountable for
            anything and cannot be and sent to prison for doing
            exactly the same thing – infecting people with a deadly
            disease. That is one hypocritical, corrupt society. And
            who does it favor and privilege? People doing harm in
            sexual ways – which is what people who normalize
            homosexuality do.

            Moreover, we see this woman’s face and name published
            in the papers as the criminal that she is. She will
            spend a lot of time in prison. But, for example, if she
            had been a man with a homosexuality problem who had
            committed the very same crime – infected others with a
            deadly disease- the system would have kept his name
            secret, it would not be published anywhere, there would
            be a complete cover-up, and there would be an
            “extortion” from the state for huge sums of money with
            total impunity for treatment. There would be a cover-up
            of the crime and of the criminal – guaranteeing absolute
            impunity.

            That’s the ugliness of “gay rights” – a corrupt
            movement to normalize dysfunctional and harmful human
            beings, who have profound problems with sexuality.

            Lastly, who is the leader in spreading grotesque diseases like syphilis and HIV in society – is it the Pope or is it people who normalize homosexuality? It’s the latter, obviously.

          • Mary

            I will have to check out your stats, however I stand by my original statement: In case you haven’t noticed, STD’S are not just a “gay problem” and each person who chooses to engage in unprotected sex, gay or otherwise, bears the resposponsiblity of what happens next:
            If someone is knowingly spreading a deadly disease then of course they should be held accountable. That applys to everyone, not just gays. It also applys to the people who choose to have unprotected sex as well. If they become infected because they have not been careful then they have to bear the consequences of their actions.
            This has nothing to do with the issue of gay rights and marriage equality. These people are in commited relationships and simply want to have the same legal protections that all married people have.

          • http://alessandrareflections.wordpress.com/ Alessandra

            Mary wrote: “STD’S are not just a “gay problem” and each person who chooses to engage in unprotected sex, gay or otherwise, bears the resposponsiblity of what happens next:”

            But this article is about LGBT people – not heterosexuals. The spread of STDs by people with a homosexual or bisexual problem is a horrible problem created in society by such people. This is just one of many types of harm that LGBT people cause in society. And none of them are bearing any responsibility for it as it is. They have total impunity. Who controls the medical system? People who normalize homosexuality – thus we have a criminal system in place, by people who normalize homosexuality.

            “This has nothing to do with the issue of gay rights and marriage equality.”

            Of course it does. “Gay rights” is nothing by a corrupt movement to normalize various types of psychological and cultural dysfunctions and perversions regarding sexuality. Instead of taking responsibility for their psycho-sexual problems – just like what happens regarding the spreading of STDs – LGBT people normalize them. They were all born heterosexual but given a series of deforming experiential factors, they become incapable of relating in a healthy and wholesome way with the opposite sex for intimate relationships. Instead of normalizing their psycho-sexual problems, they need to investigate why they developed a homosexuality problem and try to resolve it. And then marry like everyone else.

            It’s not because a person develops any psycho-sexual problem, like a homosexuality problem, a pedophilia problem, an S&M problem, or a homosexuality and pedophilia problem that they are exempt from the responsibility for dealing with it and resolving it.

            The Pope is right on.

          • Mary

            How does your argument apply to commited relationships between consenting adults? You are talking about people who are irresponsible and spread disease. That does not apply to all gay people any more than it applies to all heterosexuals. And yes there are plenty of irresponsible heterosexuals who spread disease as well. I guess to be on the safe side we should just ban sex all together.

            I don’t know what the truth is about whether gays are born that way or not. It really is none of my business. I will say that I knew one gay woman who was subject to severe sexual abuse by her father. It would be downright cruel for another person to judge her as being evil just because she has chosen a lifestyle where she feels safe from harm. And she was not promiscous either. She was a very loving and commited person. I have lost touch with her now, but I know for a fact that she is a good person.

            What you have is a cookie-cutter version of what you believe homosexuals are like. There are bad homosexuals and there are good homosexuals. There are bad heterosexuals and there are good heterosexuals. It depends on the person.

            You compare it with pedophillia which is plain wrong. Children cannot consent to sex which makes it a completely different issue altogether.

            By the way, you should check out the Bible about what it says about pedophillia. There is absolutely nothing in the bible that prohibits it. It is completely silent on the subject. Homosexuality is considered the worst sexual sin, an abomination, even between consenting adults. But there is nothing prohibiting adults from taking sexual advantage of children. I am sorry but there is something seriously wrong with that. It seems to me that child abuse trumps the homosexuality issue

          • http://alessandrareflections.wordpress.com/ Alessandra

            Mary wrote: “How does your argument apply to commited relationships between consenting adults?”

            Which specific argument are you referring to? Be sure to quote the exact passage that I wrote – not what you may like to invent and that I never wrote.

          • Mary

            “But this article is about LGBT people – not heterosexuals. The spread of STDs by people with a homosexual or bisexual problem is a horrible problem created in society by such people. This is just one of many types of harm that LGBT people cause in society”
            Alessandra, quit playing games. You know exactly what I mean. You are stigmatizing an entire group of people based on the behavior of some. You are not addressing the fact that there are good homosexuals out there who do not spread disease and simply want to live their lives in peace.
            I want to live in peace too, which is why I am ending this conversation because you seem intent on deliberately avoiding answering my points.

          • http://alessandrareflections.wordpress.com/ Alessandra

            Now Mary, quit playing games yourself. I made many arguments, not just one, and it appears you have trouble reading them. You spoke of one argument without saying which. This is why I asked you to be specific about which argument you were calling “mine.”

            You have a penchant for lying about what I write – I just wanted you not to lie and to address exactly what I said. Not what you like to make up.

            “You are stigmatizing an entire group of people based on the behavior of some.”

            No, I’m not. I am not lying about reality like you are. There are millions of criminal homosexuals and bisexuals in society. LGBT people do an enormous amount of harm in society. This is not to stigmatize. It’s to report what is happening in society.

            “You are not addressing the fact that there are good homosexuals out there who do not spread disease and simply want to live their lives in peace.”

            I am addressing the problems that you mostly try to cover up and lie about. I am addressing the harm we have in society because of pro-gay people. That’s what you don’t want to address. But that’s what I want to address.

            The reason you’re ending this conversation is so that you don’t have to address all the harm that pro-gay people do in society. Nothing new there.

          • Mary

            “The reason you’re ending this conversation is so that you don’t have to address all the harm that pro-gay people do in society. Nothing new there.”
            Now you are putting words in my mouth. The fact is that you do not want to acknowlege the pain that you and others are inflicting on innocent people. I can present the truth to the best of my ability, but when it gets to the point of going around and around in circles then there is no point in continuing the conversation.
            I have made my points and I don’t expect you to change, but I hope that my arguments will provide food for thought for others.
            God bless.

  • Frank

    Not a fan of the pope or the Catholic Church but what he said was spot on both biblically and logically.

    • http://socimages.blogsome.com/ Alessandra

      Socially, psychologically, morally, and ethically as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605215830 Mark Amos

    WTF does the pope know about marriage? He’s out of touch and certainly no longer relevant.

  • Roger Wolsey

    Attention Mr. Pope: With all due respect Joe, Hush.

  • Steve

    Mary was married. That’s why it says Joseph considered “quietly divorcing” her. I realize the point you were trying to make, but please be more careful with Scripture.

    • Mary

      I could be wrong on this, but I believe that under Jewish Law that being engaged was a commitment as equal to marriage, but without the sex. If they were technically married, then she would not have still been a virgin. So when it says that he considered divorce, it was talking about breaking off the engagement, not the marriage which had not taken place yet.
      I think it is often tempting to see the marriage customs of a culture long gone and judge by our customs, assuming that they were the same.

  • kristen

    I disagree with this post and would like to point out that the Pope never says that “to be gay” is deplorable, nor does the Catholic Church teach this. The Catholic Church teaches instead that, wether you are heterosexual or homosexual you are to live a life of chastity and purity.

    • http://socimages.blogsome.com/ Alessandra

      Well said, Kristen. And, as we can all observe, a huge number of people who normalize homosexuality also endorse porn, promiscuity, sex outside marriage, and lack of accountability for spreading serious and deadly STDs. “Gay rights” is nothing more than an attempt to normalize a host of destructive and irresponsible attitudes and behaviors regarding sexuality and relationships – and to legitimize, by extension, the persecution of anyone who disagrees.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lock-Ledger/100003358636615 Lock Ledger

    My invitation got lost too.


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