When Will The Vatican Apologise To Gays?
It's time the Pope got down on his knees and apologised for the Catholic persecution of lesbians and gay men.
The Vatican last week offered a mealy-mouthed, half-baked apology to Jewish people for the role of "some" Catholics during the Nazi era. It pointedly refused to condemn the failure of leading clerics, including Pope Pius XII, to speak out against Nazism. Nor was there any acknowledgement that the Catholic Church backed the Jew-murdering regime in Croatia, or that after the war Church officials in Rome helped Nazi war criminals escape to South America. In short, the Vatican's so-called apology white-washed Catholic collusion with fascism.
If the Pope cannot give an unequivocal apology for Church anti-semitism, the likelihood of an apology for homophobia is less than zero. Unrepentant and heartless as ever, the Vatican shows not a shred of remorse for the Church's past and present persecution of lesbians and gay men.
In medieval times, "abominable sodomites" were burnt at the stake on the orders of Papal Inquisitors. As recently as the early nineteenth century, homosexuals were still being strung up on gallows all over Britain - with the blessing of the Catholic Church. This persecution isn't over yet. The Vatican is still crucifying queers.
The Catholic Catechism condemns homosexual acts as a "grave depravity", "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law".
In 1992, the Vatican officially rejected the concept of lesbian and gay "human rights", asserting that there is "no right" to homosexuality. It added that the civil liberties of homosexuals can be "legitimately limited". While condemning "unjust" discrimination, the Catholic leadership declared that some forms of anti-gay discrimination are "not unjust" and may even be "obligatory".
Denouncing homosexuality as an "aberrant deviation", four years ago the Pope condemned proposals by the European Parliament to remove discrimination as an "attack on the family". Simultaneously, the Catholic leader in England, Cardinal Basil Hume, refused to support an equal age of consent, later justifying his stance with the claim that the Church cannot endorse human rights for "acts which she teaches are morally wrong".
In 1996, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore, explicitly urged Catholics to vote against political candidates who back equal rights for lesbians and gay men, describing homosexual equality as a "deviant trend".
When will we get an Papal apology for Catholic homophobia? Probably never. If the Vatican won't say sorry, perhaps Cardinal Hume will? Over to you Basil.
Metropolis, 26 March 1998.
© Copyright Peter Tatchell, 1998. All rights reserved.
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