|Funny how Sr Simone Campbell was not honored with a papal audience since she was also in Rome getting an award from the same group at the same conference for which Uganda's Rebecca Kadaga came to Rome specifically to attend.
One of the stories out of the Vatican from last week that utterly revolted me concerned the meeting between Pope Benedict and Uganda's Parliamentary President Rebecca Kadaga. Ms Kadaga promised the people of Uganda a Christmas present in the form of passage of the 'kill the gays' bill. Well, that's not going to happen. The bill has suddenly moved to the bottom of the priority list, but I'll have more on that after the following article. I too wondered what in the world the UnHoly See thought it was doing by allowing such a photo op as the one that leads this post.
Needless to say the story became something of an internet sensation, forcing Pope Benedict's official popesplainer, Fr Lombardi to finally address the controversy, but through Vatican Insider, not Osservatore Romano. Interesting. I should warn readers I have a ton of comments with in the body of this article, but.... I just..... had to make them.
“Why does Benedict XVI receive anti-gay politicians in audience?”
"Tensions are high over the Pope’s meeting with the Ugandan parliament speaker who favours a law that would introduce life imprisonment as a punishment for “aggravated homosexuality”
Alessandro Speciale - Vatican Insider - 12/15/2012 As if the passage on marriage in the Pope’s Message for the World Day of Peace had not kicked up enough of a storm, another case has recently erupted on the Internet, rekindling hostilities between the homosexual community and the Catholic Church.
The woman at the centre of the row is the President of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, who is in Rome for the 7th Consultative Assembly of Parliamentarians for the International Criminal Court and the Rule of Law, organised by the Italian Chamber of Deputies. During the assembly, a prize was awarded to American nun, Simone Campelle, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign against the Republicans’ cost-cutting budget plan. Kadaga kissed the Pope’s hand during the Wednesday General Audience on 12 December in the Vatican, which she attended as part of a group of Ugandan MPs.(Let's just throw in a sentence that has nothing to do with the story, but might make people feel less hostile since it refers to the most famous of the 'nuns on the bus' for how she and they defeated the 'Republican' budget plan. Nothing like using nuns you have specifically sent the CDF after like the Vatican has after Sr Simone's lobbying group NETWORK. No shame, no shame, absolutely no shame.)
As speaker for the Ugandan Parliament, Kadaga publicly expressed her support for the famous anti-homosexuality bill which, in its original version presented in 2009 by MP David Bahati, established the death penalty as punishment for those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality”. According to the bill, a person commits this offence where “the person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years” or “the offender is a person living with HIV”. Ever since it was presented, the bill - renamed “Kill the Gay Bill” – has been at the centre of controversies and sharp criticisms on the part of the international community and human rights organizations.('aggravated homosexuality' is also defined as a long term relationship. Funny how that got left out.)
The provision is being discussed and it is unlikely it will be approved by the end of the year, despite Kadaga’s promises. In its current form, the bill no longer presents the death penalty as a punishment for “aggravated homosexuality”. Instead it stipulates life imprisonment for the offence, but the sentences for those who engage in relations with other people of the same sex – which are illegal in Uganda - have become tougher on the whole.(Either Vatican Insider is privy to information no one else knows, or this is really disingenous 'splainin'. Every other source I've read, including Ugandan, says no one knows for sure if the death penalty statues have been removed. It's an assumption at this point. These details in the bill are very hush hush.)
The case exploded when certain elements of the Ugandan press made Kadaga’s brief meeting with the Pope - when the speaker kissed Benedict XVI’s hand and the two exchanged a quick greeting that lasted no more than 20-30 seconds –look by like a “blessing” from Pope Benedict XVI to the President of the country’s Parliament. According to Flavio Romani, president of the Italian LGBT association Arcigay, with “the blessing he gave yesterday in the Vatican to the Ugandan parliamentary delegation led by spokesman Rebecca Kadaga, one of the arch promoters of the “Kill the Gay Bill”…he continues to present himself as an apostle of injustice, division and discrimination against gay, lesbian and transsexual people.”
Not so according to Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi who issued a statement to Vatican Insider: “relations with the delegation were not out of the ordinary and no blessing was given.” The group of Ugandan MPs greeted the Pope “just like any other individuals attending an audience with the Pope would” and this “is by no means a specific sign of approval of Kadaga’’s actions or proposals.” (Sure, and it would just be another day at the Vatican zoo if Benedict greeted any other individual who say....favored women's ordination. (as if they would get into an audience.) Speaking of just another day at the zoo, how come no papal audience for Sr Simone Campbell and the nuns on the bus? After all, she and they actually got an award. Ooops I forget, these audience things have nothing to do with making any political statements or giving any blessings to politicians, or lobbyists, or anti gay crusaders.)
Lombardi also reiterated the Catholic Church’s absolute opposition to the death penalty, regardless of the case or the country. (I hope all my right wing buddies picked up on 'absolute opposition' to the death penalty. No wishy washy cutting corners in the words 'absolute opposition'. On the other hand, no mention of gays or treating gays with dignity and compassion, just the implication that it isn't OK to kill gays for being gays.)
A Wikileaks cable had shown how in 2009 the United States had been actively – and apparently successfully – committed to creating awareness among Holy See diplomats about Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill. In December 2009, when the debate over the “Kill the Gay Bill” was at its peak the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, Mgr. Celestino Migliore, condemned “all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.” A few weeks later, the Archbishop of Kampala, Mgr. Cyprian K. Lwanga, condemned the bill because it targeted “the sinner not the sin” and did not reflect a very “Christian caring approach” to the issue of homosexuality. (Again, some interesting 'splainin'. What this fails to mention is that in 2008 Migliore caused another uproar by notifying France that the UnHoly See would be the only European state that did not sign onto the French UN resolution to decriminalize homosexuality. Reasoning: “it would create new and implacable discriminations against opponents of same-sex marriage". The Vatican thinks it is better to imprison gays than discriminate against people (like the Roman Catholic Church) who don't like the idea of same sex marriage.)
This entire Ugandan situation was a set up from the get go. President Museveni got precisely what he wanted from the 'kill the gays' bill. At the same time the Parliament under Ms Kadaga was blathering on about gays, they passed the Petroleum Bill which gives the entire over site of Ugandan oil production and exploration to one cabinet member under Museveni's control. It appears to me this was always the main prize and that gays were used as a distraction from this agenda. It is not surprising then, why American C Street fundamentalists were the main instigating force in the attack on gays. C Street is in the Koch brothers pockets. Shock and awe, that all of a sudden 'the kill the gays' bill is at the bottom of parliament's priority list.
But now it can get even better. When Ugandans watch the Museveni family and his supporters get even richer off Ugandan mineral and oil wealth they will get to hear how it's all the fault of the gays and having had to capitulate to Western agitators on the 'kill the gays' bill. This will happen after Museveni is nominated for the Nobel peace prize by Dick Cheney. That last is a joke.....I think.
I bet Fr Lombardi wishes he didn't have to continually cover for Pope Benedict's machinations. I bet he wishes the just made Archbishop Ganswein would have to do this kind of dirty work. But it's not to be, and so he offered this incredible piece of 'popesplainin' for an act that is too obvious to 'splain' away and this is really really bad 'slainin'. I wonder how he sleeps at night. Probably only with the help of a lot of sacramental wine or really good meds.