Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Picking your subject

One would have to wonder why the Pope chooses his Christmas address to the Roman staff to stir the issue of sexual identity.(here and here) It is curious don't you think, that when we are still confronted with Zimbabwe, Congo...the destruction of Africa in general through famine, poverty and AIDS...that he should choose to focus on homosexual and transsexual behaviour.
Now, he is no fool, so he must know what a stir this will create. So, why is he doing it


AV said...

I think the Pope sees himself and his Church at the vanguard of a culture war that he has been waging for decades, on two fronts: against communism, on the one hand, and against secular liberal democracy (the Enlightenment, in a nutshell) on the other.

Opposition to communism and socialism led the Church into some questionable alliances with the political right, such as the Franco regime, the fascists in Italy, the Nazis in Germany, Pinochet in Chile, and so on. Pope John Paul is usually credited with playing an instrumental role in the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe, and at least it can be acknowledged that some fairly nasty regimes were numbered among the former Eastern bloc states. (Let's leave aside the fact that some of these regimes have become no less nasty for having abandoned communism--though it is worth noting, in view of the topic of your post, that liberated Eastern European countries such as Poland and Russia have nurtured particularly brutal and virulent strains of homophobia.)

In any case, now that communism has been largely vanquished, the current Pope is able to focus his energies upon the war on "secularism." This is really just code for a war on liberalism, given what is at stake: intellectual freedom, religious freedom (which includes freedom from religion, sexual freedom, and most importantly of all, anti-authoritarianism. The notion that public policies can and should be debated on purely rational, this-worldly grounds, without reference to a certain set of religious dogmas, is the essence of secularism--and it is a notion which can and is embraced by theists and non-theists alike. But it is such a notion that the Pope would find threatening, since it undermines his authority and the authority of his Church. It gives people the licence to question--and rightly so--why the opinions of the man in the red hat on this or that issue are any more authoritative than the next man's; why he should feel more entitled, purely by virtue of the red hat he wears and the title he bears, to the attention of policymakers than anyone else.

So his warped sense of priorities needs to be seen in light of the culture war he is waging. Famine, poverty, disease . . . nobody really needs to step too far outside of the remit of Catholic doctrine to discuss how these problems may be resolved, and so the Pope ignores them. Seeing homosexuals as entitled to the same rights and liberties as are afforded any other human being . . . now that places one significantly at odds with the official Vatican line. To defend the interests of GLBTIs is to attack the interests of the Church--at least, this is how I think Benedict would see things.

stephen clark said...

Yes I know most of these things. It is interesting to see what Ratzinger became, because at the time of Vatican II he was probably regarded as more of a liberal than a conservative. certainly his intellectualism is decidedly less conservative than his predecessor. (This may not mean much)
BUT what my point is, why pick on homosexuals as a first port of call. What is it about homosexuality that attracts the conservative religious attention?
It is not its predominance, why not talk (* for example *) about the sexualisation of children which is much more widespread. But no, time and time again we come back to poofter bashing!
My basic stance is perhaps the naive one, that the world has too little love in it any way we should encourage everyone to love as they can, and not punish those who in a minority.
OOOOOhhhh just makes me cross!!
Have ...a good Christmas...what is Japanese for Christmas?

AV said...

Merii Kurisumasu!

stephen clark said...