Following new government plans for gay marriage, Catholic commentators have crawled out of the woodwork to bitch and moan to anyone who’ll listen, despite the fact that marriage has been around for far longer than the Catholic Church and it has only taken on a strongly religious context after the Church spotted the money-making opportunities in the 12th Century.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien called the plans a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and went on to say that “It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father“. (N.B. O’Brien’s claims about gay marriage breaching human rights stem from a misinterpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
O’Brien’s comments were described as “a bit rich” by Paolo Viscardi, who went on to say “The need for both a father and mother is a biological one that ends with conception. Further, a human right is only meaningful when enforceable, yet the loss of a parent or parents is impossible to prevent in many instances, thereby making the ‘right’ for a child to have both a mother and father meaningless”.
Viscardi went on to say “There is no reason to suppose that a loving same-sex couple would fail in their care of children – indeed I believe they would do a far better job than, for example, a Catholic orphanage. O’Brien should check John 8:7. Members of the Catholic clergy have committed a host of human rights abuses against children and such abuse has been endemic in parts of the Catholic Church. O’Brien may have apologised for such abuses in the past, but to claim that the loving union of a same-sex couple is an abuse of human rights twists the meaning of that section of the Declaration of Human Rights and it throws the self-deluded sense of sexual morality held by the Catholic clergy into stark relief.”
*Notably, more priests have stepped up to condemn gay marriage than have gone on record condemning child abuse by members of the Catholic clergy. The Irish Cardinal Jack Hackett, suggested that this was because many priests believe that “Sex is a sin unless it is intended to bring forth new life in the agonies of the woman as God intended. By abusing children the Catholic clergy are teaching them that sex is a dirty business that causes great suffering.”
Cardinal Jack Hackett finished by saying “Gays have too much fun to get married. Marriage is not about having fun, it’s about having babies and being miserable for the glory of God“.
*N.B. This last section may not be entirely true, but it paraphrases the jist of several arguments I’ve heard in the past.
If you disagree with the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage, and if you live in the UK, perhaps you would like to sign the Coalition For Equal Marriage’s petition to show your support.
There are many Catholics who say and do horrible things, and I detest them for it. Unfortunately some of them are in high positions in the worldwide Church. That said, my parish is full of progressive Catholics including myself. We have homosexual couples teaching catechism classes and attending church together just like any other couple. My priest gives Sunday messages of tolerance, acceptance, and equality for all people and living things. You find wackos and sickos in any faith…My Muslim husband also suffers when some Muslims do/say horrible things.
Some Catholics don’t make sense, but it doesn’t mean no Catholics have any sense. Same with any faith.
Thanks for this blog post.
I am atheist myself, but I appreciate that religion can play an important role in the lives of many people. There are plenty of sensible Catholics and unfortunately there are senseless ones. O’Brien isn’t as bad as some, but his comments on gay marriage are totally unreasonable.
As far as I am concerned people should be entitled to their beliefs, as long as they don’t start imposing them on other people and using them to justify unreasonable positions intended to sway policy and restrict the rights of others.
I find it a better reflection on behalf of any religious group to have responsible members call out corrupt, abusive or bigoted and ignorant leaders of their community, rather than having to depend upon Atheists and others who are not part of that group, but are impacted by it, to do so. I’m American Indian and was the Chief Curriculum Writer for the Gathering Of Native Americans, a federally funded program on National Native Substance Abuse Prevention that was rated as a “Best Practices” project. Most American citizens are unaware of the fact American Indians were not recognized as citizens of this country until 1924, and apartheid conditions existed, where American Indians were not permitted to attend public schools, but were forced to go to federal boarding schools. If you were from an Oregon based reservation (like my mom) you were sent to Oklahoma—because it was the policy to ship a child as far away as possible so he or she wouldn’t try to escape and return home. We’ve known for years of the extreme physical abuse that went on in the schools (same thing happened in Canada to its First Nations children) but it’s only been in the last 20 years or so we’ve documented the extent of sexual abuse that went on in the schools. In one Native community an entire generation of children was sexually abused. I’m a Family Therapist and this is so far off the scale, we have no way of even understanding the impact this can have. In a nation that claims separation of Church and State, the government franchised out the Boarding Schools to Churches—60% of the Indian Boarding Schools were run by the Catholic Church. When I included information on sexual abuse within the Boarding Schools—relevant because alcohol and drugs have often been used as self-medication in dealing with having been sexually abused—and it was in the index—DSHS removed the index material without comment. These were published reports from the New York Times and other newspapers regarding the situation that was going on in Boston Catholic Churches at the time.
My personal feeling is that if Catholic Church leaders (or those in other churches) are going to spend the money donated to them by their members to further hateful legislation like Prop 8 and to lobby their members to vote for discriminatory legislation, I think they should lose their tax exempt status. I think it’s wonderful the original poster belongs to a specific Church that reportedly acts in an actual Christian manner. I wonder how its membership and leadership speaks against what’s wrong in the overall structure. If nothing is said aloud or publically, then the silence only shows criticism coming from outside of the group, which further stereotypes that harm the “decent” members of the groups along with those like our webmaster quotes.
“I find it a better reflection on behalf of any religious group to have responsible members call out corrupt, abusive or bigoted and ignorant leaders of their community, rather than having to depend upon Atheists and others who are not part of that group, but are impacted by it, to do so.”
I agree. Change can only happen from within a community, since external ‘attacks’ will tend to lead to defensive behaviours from the community, that increase internal cohesion as members unite against the interlopers. Indeed, the Catholic church has probably done more to galvanise support for gay marriage by their actions than would have been possible without their bigoted opinions.
Sometimes it does become necessary for external observers to provide an objective view that raises the issue within the community though, since the seeds of differing ideas need to be sown and it is rare for such seeds to be generated in climate dominated by a strict dogma. This isn’t restricted to religion by any means.
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