Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Pope Offends Me

The Pope insults me, and I have a few choice words and gestures for him as well.

In case you haven't heard, a Gay Pride Parade is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in a couple of days and the Vatican is asking the Israeli government to ban the parade because it is likely to offend religious people.

Excuse me?! This is where I usually try to be diplomatic and politically correct and mature and professional and avoid a variety of adolescent and semi-obscene retorts. But I must confess, I'm sorely tempted.

I know Jerusalem is a holy city. I know it is revered by at least three religions. I also know that its holiness is in no way endangered when people claim their human dignity and call for their equal rights in its hallowed streets.

The Vatican has used its influence and perceived authority to discourage condom use globally use in spite of almost 3 decades of AIDS.

The Vatican has imposed celibacy on its clergy that has caused not only loneliness for those who have managed to practice it but the worst of ethical break downs for those who could not. I have personally known many priests and nuns who have taken a vow of celibacy while engaging in normal, adult, sexual behavior in private. Sometimes that behavior was with a committed partner, sometimes it was with a variety of casual partners. But in any case, they were forced to hide and lie because of an unreasonable and unnecessary expectation that they claim to be non-sexual in order to perform ministry.

When the dishonest and secretive practices of forced celibacy caused such poor mental and spiritual health that priests acted out in ways that were abusive and demeaning to themselves and others, the Church responded for decades by covering up the behavior and by failing to properly discipline the offenders while also refusing to change the expectation of celibacy.

I won't even go into the misogyny promoted by an all male priesthood. But the point is, the Vatican long ago forfeited the moral authority to condemn anyone's ontology. The Church both labels homosexuality as "disordered" and says that we poor, wretched, "disordered" beings should be treated with compassion. How compassionate is it to deny freedom of expression because it might offend someone's sex-negative assumptions, prejudices, or social privilege?!

The Vatican claims that freedom of expression should be subject to "just limits." Well, guess what? For a bunch of self-loathing, closeted gay men in liturgical drag to claim to be offended by "out" lesbians and gays voicing their pride and calling for equality is not by any standard of reason "just." Be offended if you like, but also feel free to get over it!

Be offended by war. Be offended by the unfair distribution of wealth. Be offended by those who have power and privilege but who do not use their good fortune to uplift those of lower station. Be offended by bigotry. Be offended by policies that sell out peace or the environment for the sake of a few mega-rich families. Be offended by fascism that disguises itself as religion or security or values. But don't try to dehumanize same-gender loving people in the name of religion. No one gets to be offended that I exist or that I demand the right to live my life in the open with all the freedoms and dignities afforded to non-gay people. And if I do offend you, then please know that your homophobia offends me.

Meanwhile, march on my queer sisters and brothers! Bless the holy city with the passion of your cries for justice.

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