Bil Browning

Pope Benedict XVI

Filed By Bil Browning | April 19, 2005 4:10 PM | comments

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As I'm sure most of you are aware, Cardinal John Ratzinger has been chosen to be the new head of the Catholic church. He has chosen the name of Benedict XVI as his papal name.

Several GLBT blogs (including the Quotable Queer from Indy) and organizations are immediately jumping to the "Benedict XVI will be no friend to our community" call-to-arms. In a recent press release, Matt Foreman, the executive director for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force said "Today, the princes of the Roman Catholic Church elected as Pope a man whose record has been one of unrelenting, venomous hatred for gay people, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger."

Pope John Paul II obviously wasn't a force for gay and lesbian civil rights either. DignityUSA.com, the website for the GLBT Catholic organization says that during John Paul's papacy, GLBT folk were "demonized by Church leaders and made the scapegoat for weakened family structures in Western societies and for the sexual abuse scandals that rocked the church in the United States and in Europe."

DignityUSA's president, Sam Sinnett, commented shortly after John Paul II's death: "While we join millions around the world in earnest prayer for the Pope's eternal salvation and the future of our Church, we remember that this papacy has used harsh and derogatory language such as 'objectively disordered and intrinsically evil' to describe gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."

In 1896, the Vatican issued the now infamous "Halloween letter." Who wrote the homophobic screed? Ratzinger, the dean of the powerful College of Cardinals, who served John Paul II as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Papal historians are wondering whether Ratzinger's choice of Benedict as his papal name has any significance. Seems Benedict XV (1914-1922) was a moderate who followed a fundamentalist that issued a crackdown on "modernism." Speculation abounds as to whether this is Ratzinger's way of signaling that he wants to change his image of doctrinal hard-liner. Doubtful.

I tend to agree with Andrew Sullivan who said, "This is the religious equivalent of having had four terms of George W. Bush only to find that his successor as president is Karl Rove."


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AUTHOR: The Quotable Queer

DATE: 5/02/2005 11:42:30 PM

I apologize for not seeing this earlier. Over the last few weeks I've done a lot of hands-on research in finding Catholics who happen to be homosexual to probe this issue a bit deeper. It has definitely not changed my initial perceptions of Pope Benedict XVI. However, it has opened my mind that faith is a critical piece in our individuality. I certainly would hope that we as gay individuals would not be held accountable for statements and actions by other members of the GBLT community. I apply the same mindset towards the Catholics that are just one segment of the diverse GBLT community.


AUTHOR: Marla R. Stevens

DATE: 5/17/2005 05:37:00 AM

I'd rather live in a world of no hate than one with hate but, if I have to deal with hate, then I'd rather deal with the open, full-bore version than the liberal in denial kind (self-loathing, included).One of the most telling remarks of the new pope has been that he wouldn't mind the church growing smaller as a result of his demands on it to achieve ideological lockstep adherence to his dictates from Rome.Frankly, as it would be a more honest church, losing the fluffed out with those who cling to its structure and culture without adhering to its theology way it's currently constituted, I wouldn't mind, either.The essence of the RCC is that it has a pope whose edicts are thought to come from God through him, making the following of those edicts a requirement for consideration that one is actually a member of the faith.Thus the American RCC is, for the most part in practice, not in communion with Rome/Benedict XVI aka the church, nor are non-celibate gay people.Saying that doesn't make me an enemy of my own people -- nor does saying that gay RCs have a choice to make between their church and their people -- that the two are in direct conflict and that it's not possible to serve one without doing harm to the other.I'm not the one who created the choice -- that was the RCC, especially this pope. I'm sad for the RC's in my community that they have it to make if they're to be true to either. Based in lies about science, the pope's/church's antigay edicts have everything they need to change -- everything, that is, except the will of the leadership who made them. Even as wierdly convoluted as RC theology and doctrine can be at times, according to its own history, it needn't be this way and ought not be this way. But it's not my decision nor the RC queers' -- it's the pope's. He's made it and he shows every sign that he's going to stick to it. That leaves only the choice for queers in the church to become honest lapsed RC queers who no longer support the church in any way or the choice to cling to the church either as compliant, celibate RCs or faux RCs not living according to church tenets -- despite that doing either version of the latter choice hurts their gay community and thus themselves.Painful choices, both of them -- but whoever said the road to spiritual integrity was going to be easy?Parchment, pen, hammer and nails for posting church door statements, anyone?