Monday, July 29, 2013

The Pope, the Press and "Gays"

Renouncing a right to "judge" others is something that goes back to Jesus. It does not mean a refusal to recognize the moral character of others' behavior. One can form a moral judgment that what someone else is doing is wrong (Jesus obviously does not forbid that) without having or showing malice toward them. Francis’ statement that homosexuals should not be marginalized is old news- in keeping with the Holy See's approach to the subject, as 1992 Vatican document On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. His statement that same-sex attraction "is not the problem," is also nothing new. "The problem," is going beyond merely having a sinful tendency--a temptation to which one is subject. Obviously, temptations are a problem, but if we resist temptation we do not sin. "The problem," on this understanding, is giving in to the temptation and sinning or--worse--building an ideology around the sin and trying to advocate the sin, thus calling evil good and good evil. The Pope’s statement that "they're our brothers" is also not innovative. Christians, like everyone, have fought to resist acting on every sort of temptation. Same-sex attraction is just one temptation among numerous others, and the fact that a person suffers from this temptation no more denies him of the status of brotherhood in Christ than does any other. But here also is what is not new: the media are painting a fabricated picture by contrasting the "good" Francis to the “bad" Benedict. None of Francis's remarks are antagonistic to the approach Benedict took during his papacy. Benedict himself (as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) was the signer of the previously mentioned letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, as well as the follow-up document on non-discrimination regarding homosexual persons.