Responding to a direct question about the supposed gay lobby in the Vatican, Pope Francis replied that “if” such a thing existed (and he’s never yet seen a Vatican ID card identifying the bearer as gay), then
The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.
Does “so many lobbies” include a heterosexual lobby – in the Catholic Church, and in the wider Christian community?
There are indeed a large number of gay priests, bishops and cardinals in the Vatican as there are everywhere else (and in every walk of life), but as someone observed when allegations of a gay lobby first arose, if they constitute a “lobby” they are remarkably unsuccessful, There is no evidence at all of any gay lobby actively promoting a gay agenda. A Guardian article on the subject quotes the veteran Catholic journalist, John Allen:
“If the question is ‘Are there gays in the Vatican?’, yes, of course there are. But if the question is ‘Is there some kind of organised network of gays in the Vatican who are protecting one other and advancing their own interests’, all I can tell you is that in 15 years of covering the place I’ve never seen any particular evidence of that.”
The point of any lobby is to secure preferential treatment for their cause, but as we all know gay and lesbian Catholics do not get any preferential treatment. Rather, they are actively discriminated against, in church doctrine, in CDF documents hostile to gay priests, in employment by Catholic schools, hospitals and parishes, and in access to church buildings and facilities. Active discrimination against one group is, in effect, preferential treatment for another – in this case, heterosexuals.The eminent historian John Boswell has shown (in “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality) that in church history, hostility to same – sex affectional orientation was never inherent in church teaching or scripture, but developed in support of popular prejudice, alongside prejudice against Jews and gypsies. Biblical scholars like Dale Martin (Sex and the Single Savior) have demonstrated how much of the traditional biblical interpretations hostile to gay and lesbian people arise from reading scripture with a heterosexual bias.
In the secular world, it is clear that much of the so-called “Christian” opposition to LGBT equality and protection from discrimination, in marriage and family law is rooted in prejudice (as noted by major court judgments, in California and in the US Supreme Court). Actual physical violence and hate speech directed against LGBT people (especially trans people) is common. Some conservative Catholic activists use forms of blackmail against clergy suspected of have a same – sex orientation, or even of keeping to church teaching on “respect, compassion and sensitivity”.
……. accusations of homosexuality remain one of the commonest and most effective forms of attack.
Sometimes this is entirely deranged. A traditionalist blogger has denounced the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, as “a homosexual” because he had said something sympathetic about his own gay clergy.
Similarly, a letter denouncing by name a number of prominent German and Austrian Catholic clergy, inside and outside the Vatican, was circulated to all German-speaking bishops last year and to the media including the Guardian. The men are widely regarded to be moving in gay networks. Some are accused of complicity in the manoeuvrings around the Vatileaks scandal last year, when Pope Benedict’s butler was convicted of passing on detailed and confidential information to journalists. It seems likely that this letter formed part of a dossier presented to Pope Benedict in February by three cardinals charged with investigating the Vatileaks affair.
Catholic doctrine is clear – all unjust discrimination against gay people should be avoided, violence and malice in speech or action, should be opposed.
They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
10. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
But the institutional church continues to practice discrimination, while failing to condemn the violence and hate speech. The problem is not the existence of a powerful but entirely fictional gay lobby, but the very real and dangerous heterosexual lobby.
Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
Martin, Dale B: Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation
- Francis’ Sunlight (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Pope Francis reaches out to gays (telegraph.co.uk)
- Pope says gay people shouldn’t be marginalised (radionz.co.nz)
- Pope Francis on Not Judging and Marginalizing Gays: My Reflections (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Responding to Pope Francis, on Gay Integration (queeringthechurch.com)