Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Planet Out-of-Line


Thanks for the encouraging words. Funny you should mention the Pope as subject matter, since that's exactly the topic that was on my mind currently.

For the record, I was raised and still consider myself to be Southern Baptist as far as a religious denomination goes; my partner is Catholic. Neither of us are huge fans of Pope John Paul II, particularly in regard to his rigid stance on issues surrounding gays in the church.

The Pope could easily be called neglectful towards gay Catholics. He very easily could have made the distinction that he feels that homosexuality is non-Biblical, but that gays should be welcome in the Church with love and not denied communion or any other service, ministry, or rite of the church. He didn't take the opportunity to bring his people together in love in harmony despite his Biblical interpretation. He may have gone further by taking actions that allowed gays to be villianized and ostracized.

It's hard to understand how a man who was subject to oppression from Nazis and Communists could fail to see the evils of perpetuating oppression upon any other group. Still, he likely took the stances he did out of a sense of what he thought was truly right; unlike many leaders of the religious right, John Paul II probably acted, for right or wrong, good or evil, with the best of intentions with no ambition of bringing in more money, gaining political advantage, or solidifying a power base. This does not excuse his failure, but it does contextualize it.

On April 1st, PlanetOut, a leading gay website, sent out its regularly scheduled article updates on email. The subject line was "The Pope's Legacy of Homophobia."

Ironically, a "Social Grace" column, PlanetOut's answer to Miss Manners is also listed in this update. PlanetOut could have taken some lessons in manners; rather than sending this exceptionally insulting, insensitive, tasteless email. At the time that the email was sent, the Pope was clearly in the last stages of his life, on the verge of death.

He did then, and does now, as he rests in repose, deserve a show of respect. For his faults and failures in this area, the man did much good in his life. Regardless, he, like any other human being, deserves respect in death. The man man have committed evil to his gay members, but attacking the Pope does an evil to gay Catholics as well. It is hard to explain the connection I have seen between my partner and other Catholics with the Pope, but it is very tangible and important to them. Attacking the Pope is an indirect attack upon Catholics; it causes harm to an already harmed population.

There will be ample time to discuss his failures and lack of love and attention to his gay congregation. But, for now, we should let him rest in peace. He deserves the respect that any human, full of flaws and foilbles, but also capable of great love and compassion, deserves. This does not excuse him, but rathers shows ourselves to be something other than the evil he may have believed us to be.

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