Friday, August 01, 2003

two from Andrew

I had to react to these two posts from Andrew Sullivan.

The less important one first: Sullivan points us to an article re: evidence of an "active program" to create WMDs in Iraq. I believe, along with others, that the finding of WMDs is only a matter of time, and that the skeptics simply lack patience. As said before, by the Administration and others, this is going to take a long time. "A long time" was deliberately not defined. But however long it takes, the end result will be the discovery (and not, as some wickedly posit, the fabrication) of weapons of mass destruction. While I lack confidence in our current administration's ability to manage finances and deal with certain crucial moral and social issues, I think they're right on the WMD question.

Secondly: Sullivan, who is gay and Catholic, has also linked to an article about the Vatican's declaration on homosexual marriage and relationships. [The Vatican's declaration in full can be found here. Note once again that this piece of filth emanates from Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?]

The NYT article quotes from the document:

"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," the document says, asserting repeatedly that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.

Sullivan's reaction to two emails he received from two gay men who have now left the Church because of this declaration:

I feel my own conscience getting closer and closer to making the same decision [i.e., leaving the Church]. It tears me apart to see no prospect of the Catholic Church ending its war on gay people and their dignity in my lifetime. In fact, I think it's getting worse; and the next Pope from the developing world could make the current one seem humane. Leaving the sacraments would be a huge blow to the soul; but the pope just called the love I have for my boyfriend "evil." That's a word he couldn't bring himself to use about Saddam Hussein. How can I recognize what I know to be true with what the Pope has just said? I cannot. It doesn't leave many options but departure.

I hate reading this, and agree that the next Pope is very likely to be far more conservative. I feel for Sullivan, and think he and other homosexuals are in a shitty position. The Church won't even grant the possibility that homosexual love is analogous to hetero? This sort of idiocy can only be propounded by a loveless German dickhead like Cardinal Ratzinger.

But JP2 signed off on the document. Maybe he knows his tenure is coming to an end, and now he can do whatever the hell he wants. The Onion, which must have been aware of the rumor that His Holiness is lucid only three hours out of the day, wrote a spoof months ago about him.

In a recent post, I said that JP2's been a good Pope. I stand by that, but maybe I should take the time to explain that my feeling is not unqualified. As I mentioned in that previous post, JP2 has done a lot of apologizing during his tenure (he's been nicknamed by some, not always kindly, "The Pope of Apologies"). He has also done much to try and further interreligious dialogue, and to continue to project the spirit of the Vatican II reforms of the 1960s into the 21st century.

But JP2 is also the temporal head of the church, and while I'm willing to grant that Rome is of many minds as it deals with the imminent power vacuum, ultimate responsibility for retrograde documents promulgated by Rome devolves to His Holiness. Cardinal Ratzinger's CDF is also responsible for the reprehensible Dominus Iesus of August 2000-- a document that, while not intended to be wide in scope, nevertheless set back Catholic interreligious dialogue decades, deeply offending non-Catholic dialogue partners across the spectrum. JP2 must bear ultimate responsibility for this wound as well; Dominus Iesus was cleared by him, after all.

The Pope has endured accusations of traditionalism and conservatism since the beginning of his tenure. Certainly he has been dogged throughout the 80s and 90s on the issue of reproductive rights (as was Mother Theresa, whom some called "criminal" for her role in Calcutta). Sexuality and Christianity have always been a turbulent mix at best. The Church's stance against homosexuality has also always been clear, and this stance is, unfortunately, very much in line with what American evangelical Protestantism and the conservative wings of the mainline Christian branches espouse.

It's unfortunate that such medievalism exists to this day, and causes hurt in the people who most need the Church. While certain Protestants flaunt their "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets, they spout the rhetoric of separation, brokenness, closed-mindedness, and ignorance. WWJD, indeed. The world doesn't move forward at the same pace, and some people prefer to cling to their primitivity rather than acknowledge how dynamic reality is. The sickest, saddest irony in all this is that the Church, which should ideally be the last of all institutions to turn people away, is remarkably successful at alienating them.

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