Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Catholic Silence On Uganda Does Not Extend To Websites

For the last couple of months, it's been really difficult for me to get through the comments after articles on the National Catholic Reporter. If the NCR actually does have some sort of comment monitoring, I am at a loss as to what the criterion might be. There are now some nine pages of comments regarding the LCWR response to the Vatican and too many of them are stunning angry generalized attacks with out substance, validation or real logic, and those are the generalized attacks. The personal ad hominem attacks are much worse.

I'm not claiming I'm immune from knee jerk reactions. I've posted comments I've subsequently wished I hadn't. At times I've written articles for this blog which have not demonstrated my higher reasoning attributes all that well. And yet, I have really seriously tried to deal with the issues and dynamics which cloud reasoning and lead to hypocrisy, projection, and pathology. I have to admit, I really get engaged when those dynamics are used to justify the legalization of the fruits of those pathologies, which is why I write frequently on issues of clerical power, gays, and women. Pathology is not spirituality.

The following is a comment on John Allen's assessment of the pending Ugandan bill on criminalizing homosexuality. It amptly demonstrates pathology as spirituality, and even more sadly it is written in a matter of fact, reasonable, and relatively unemotional style. This seeming lack of emotion makes it even more frightening than the illogical emotional attacks used by other supporters of the pending Ugandan legislation because it demonstrates an empathetic disconnect. I have hi lited the frequent use of the world "BUT".

I don't see what the problem is with this bill from a Catholic perspective. Perhaps some of the measures are too harsh, but fundamentally there does not appear to be anything wrong with it. It is true, as John says, that the Catechism says we should treat homosexuals with respect and sensitivity, and that we should love them. But it does not say that they should not be punished if it is necessary to protect the common good within a particular society, but only that "unjust" discrimination should be avoided. (Punishment as an expression of love: hmm, where have we seen this before? In the case of this Ugandan legislation it goes so far as to include execution as an expression of love.)

As Christians we should treat all people with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, even a murderer or a rapist, so I don't see how this passage from the Catechism has any bearing on whether or not homosexuality should be outlawed. (Here we have compartmentalization. The problem is this loving punishment is not extended to heterosexuals who engage in the same sexual behaviors even though Catholic moral theology says the sexual sins are equal in sinful culpability. This kind of draconian response is only merited by homosexuals.)

Moreover, most of the measures contained in this bill, far from being a cause of concern, are actually something which I would have expected Catholics to support. I'm speaking firstly of the fact that the bill recognises that there is a particular gravity to homosexual acts when they are committed with minors, and secondly of the fact that it bans pro-homosexual advocacy and promotion of so-called "gay rights". In addition, using drugs or intoxicants to sodomise an unwilling victim is clearly an outrage, and I completely fail to see what the issue is with giving this fact legal recognition and punishing such wickedness in a court of law. (Again the author ignores the fact that heterosexuals engage in the exact same acts and those acts are equally immoral. Unless of course, this author is hiding the fact he thinks raping girls is less grievous than raping boys. Which is a whole other issue--or maybe not.)

CCC 2242 states "The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel." From what is written above, none of the provisions of this bill appears to contradict the demands of the moral order or the fundamental rights of persons (it would be perverse to claim that there is some kind of "right" to engage in intrinsically evil acts), or the teachings of the Gospel. Hence, I fail to see why Catholics ought to protest against it. The death penalty is, I agree, probably not warranted, but it is probably a preferrable situation to that of the Western World where militant and predatory homosexuals are given complete impunity to seduce the young, and corrupt the morals of society by spreading their filthy propaganda. Perhaps the liberal intelligentsia in the USA should take the log out of their own eye before they start picking at the splinter in that of Uganda. (Perfect use of the word 'but' to undermine the token agreement about the use of the death penalty. This allows our author the freedom from guilt to bring home his real truth that Catholics should have no trouble executing gays because all homosexuals are predatory, militant, and corrupting influences.)

To make it clear, I am certainly not a supporter of the death penalty for homosexuals. To me, it seems unecessary, but states do have the right to use if THEY deem it to be necessary to protect the people from internal agressors, and the point here is, that neither I, nor John Allen, is charged with the responsibility for the common good of the people of Uganda. As there is nothing per se immoral in this bill, why not just leave it to those who are responsible for the Ugandan people, and instead of suggesting that they are somehow trying to "get one over" on the Western World, trust that they are doing it to protect the common good of their own people. That a relatively benign legislative measure should provoke such horror amongst the minds of our own self-appointed liberal elite is simply another indication of the cancerous moral decline that is eating away at the soul of America and Western Europe. (Again we have the use of the word 'but' to deny the previous thought and lead into it's opposite. Which then leads to the final statement that this Ugandan legislation is relatively benign. Wow, the lack of empathy is really mind boggling.)


It is disheartening to have to deal with the fact an American Catholic could write this comment. Just from a practical standpoint, the bill is all the justification a politician needs to destroy and eliminate his opposition. Anybody can become a 'predatory gay' under this bill, even this author, and he would have very little recourse to prove any differently. Maybe in his righteous logic, he hasn't spent enough time thinking through all the possible ramifications of this kind of legislation, being straight and all.

If the author really was going to take his Catholic logic to it's fullest conclusion, he should be advocating for the extension of the law to heterosexuals. Heterosexuals do engage in the same behaviors with some frequency and because there are so many more heterosexuals undermining social morals, one would think heterosexuals are the much bigger threat--especially in Africa where the vast majority of HIV transmission is heterosexual. Perhaps our author has another unexamined prejudice, and that one concerns the relative worth of women vs heterosexual males.

Like the above author, Pope Benedict has a history of problems with gays and women. In fact, one could almost state with some certainty that Benedict's problem with secular feminism has the same roots as his problem with secular gays. That seems to be that he sees both 'agendas' as attacking long held conventional notions of the prominent place of heterosexual masculinity. This is interesting in a man who does not come across as physically masculine, was not much of a soldier, spent his life in the passive world of academics, and is enamored with the pursuit of artistic beauty. But, he does seem to have the heterosexual masculine dominance thing down, and in the end, being on that right side of the issue is all that seems to count.

I guess in his preference for the ascendance of heterosexual males he can forbid women the right to condoms to defend themselves from the death sentence of HIV, or use therapuetic abortion to protect their own lives from a death dealing pregnancy. At the same time this preference for heterosexual males allows him to refuse to sign any human rights charter protecting rights for gays, and justifies his silence on execution for gays in Uganda. Benedict has affirmed himself as a real man and Catholicism as a real man's Church and I suspect he can do this in spite of his external contradictions, because deep down inside he really thinks celibate clerical males are even better than active heterosexual males. And that is why for all his sometimes wonderful theology, he will never get the Good News and is so destructive for the integrity and authenticity of Roman Catholicism.


  1. The comments you quote demonstrate exactly the kind of zealotry from which Paul repented. Indeed, his experience of meeting Jesus was exactly to teach him that when you persecute anyone, you persecute Jesus.

    But zealots will find any "loophole" that allows them to "believe" their persecution is righteous.

    The failure of church prelates to denounce war, bigotry, revenge of any type, and their hypocritical focus on sexual acts - instead of relationships of love (what Jesus' message was ALL about) - has unleashed a mob mentality throughout the church. Mobs notoriously may turn on their "leaders" - let the Vatican be ware! The internet facilitates the mob mentality - by allowing vengeful people a voice without their having to own responsibility. Thus internet bullies are insulated as much as prelate bullies - who hide behind their supposed exalted status and surround themselves with sycophant clergy (and laity).

  2. The Bishops better damn well speak up and reform the poisonous consciences of their ignorant flock!!!!

  3. Your commentary is excellent. Thank you for distilling it for us.

    I find this remark in the comment interesting: "the point here is, that neither I, nor John Allen, is charged with the responsibility for the common good of the people of Uganda."

    Really? As I understand the message of Jesus, we are ALL charged to care about the wellbeing of everyone everywhere! I guess that the attitude expressed is not surprising, since the rest of the comment was so lacking in compassion.


  4. Paul repented of that kind of zealotry against Christians but he remained mired in it in the case of homosexuality, and we are still living with the bad effects of this.

  5. Sadly, and I am not the first to notice this, the religious right has replaced the "Dirty Jew" with GLBT. The language is similar and the actions proposed look too familiar.

  6. Colleen, thank you. I, too, have been reading the comments at the NCR site with dread. It is hard for me to fathom that so much bile has become the norm for some sectors of American Catholicism--and that it goes relatively unchallenged. In fact, I'd say it's becoming the position of the center in some key respects.

    I'm also grateful that you pull the rug out from this mendacious argument's attempt to deny what it promotes: active persecution of gay and lesbian persons, even to the point of capital punishment.

    As you say, everything hinges on a tactic of compartmentalization, which sets LGBT people apart as a different category of human beings. Once societies succeed in doing that to a minority group and in making the stereotypes used to justify the compartmentalization stick, it is just one short step from violence.

    Thanks for continuing to fight such debasement of Catholic teaching and values at a time in which these tactics have the tacit (and often active) support of many bishops and of the Vatican itself.

  7. I do it Bill because the spiritual tradition of Catholicism is so much greater than it's traditional Instutionalism. The shallow externals as defended by Benedict and others do not come close to reflecting the incredible beauty of Catholicism in the spiritual trenches.

    Sometimes though, the Institutional hierarchy comes close to smothering this spiritual beauty in the fog of their corrupted fascination with their secular power. That can't be allowed to continue.

  8. Anonymous, I take comfort in this line from Second Peter:

    "There are some things in them (i.e. Paul's letters), hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures."

    I agree that Paul never completely left behind the zealotry - which Jesus' message told him to do. So he talked about slavery - as if it was ok - and the oppression of women, and it's really unclear (to me anyway) if he actually condemned anything more than temple prostitutes (including males) - given the term he used (as I understand it - no Greek scholar, me!).

    I like Paul when he's a mystic. Not so much when he's a social critic.

    Thanks for that amendment, however.