By Jack Nichols
Changing the teaching to legitimize homosexual
Archbishop George Pell, Australia's Roman Catholic motormouth, has, of late, been playing the part of a good Vatican soldier. Gung-ho militarists, whether Vatican or Pentagon types, tend to be dogmatic, anti-feminist and, of course, homophobic. Pell (rhymes with Hell) is just such a pill.
Holding tightly to his scepter, the Archbishop is currently a world leader of the Vatican's wayward charge against feminists, gay males and lesbians, dutifully following his bewildered and elderly Pope's expressed order: to exterminate any dignity secular governments provide for egalitarian relationships and for same-sex love and affection.
Could it be time, in the Archbishop's plan, to cleanse those notorious educational environs where Roman Catholic priests learn to do their trade?
Pell, stung because of his critics' barbs, placed a May 28 editorial in The Age, a Melbourne-based newspaper. "We Jews, Christians and Muslims," he said in a surprising and somewhat misleading ecumenical tone, "have always believed that nature designed men and women for one another; that sex is a sacred fire which can purify and ennoble or damage and destroy, and that sexual activity is designed to strengthen marriage and create family."
The Australian Archbishop kept good his earlier heartless threat to fight anti-bias policies instituted on behalf of gay and lesbian students in Australia's schools. "It is misleading," he writes, "to tell our young that adolescent infatuations or isolated experimentation implies an inescapable homosexual orientation."
Here, Pell himself misleads with a red herring as he goes on the offense about "inescapable homosexual orientations" that must not be taught in Australian schools, telling what amounts to an outright lie in order to define school issues his way.
This anti-gay patriarchal preened one should be asked how he makes sense of protections against schoolyard abuses of gay and lesbian students that have just been granted—as a power to sue negligent school officials-- by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Attempting to deflect any Church blame for gay teen suicides Pell insists such youthful deaths are due to their having had homosexual orientations.
Stubbornly portraying gay adults as frightening pariahs in much the same way that Orthodox Christian Serbs demonize Muslim Albanians, Pell says: "It is grossly unfair and misleading for those who work to win recruits to homosexual practice to blame those who discourage such recruiting for the suicide of homosexuals."
Talk about code-word scare-words!
Unable to perceive how Catholic guilt suffocates teenagers with what he is pleased to call " strict Christian commandments" Archbishop Pell insists that all "sexual activity" be restricted to heterosexual marriage and declares "all other genital activity off limits".
These specific commandments, he pontificates, are all "designed to prepare people for lifelong marriages, providing security for spouses and offspring."
To more people than he realizes, whether single, divorced, looking in good faith, or unable or uninterested, the Archbishop seems to be promising expressed affection only on his terms like lifelong Pie in the Sky. Pell diminishes thereby that gloriously privileged consciousness that can come to people who thrive and arrive alive on the one thing the Roman Catholic Church abhors—personal independence.
In one of his more vile equations of same-sex love and affection with adult seduction and disease, he writes:
Thus, ignoring as only dogmatists can, the medical establishment's insistence that homosexuality is not a disease nor a malfunction, the Roman Catholic prelate appears to be pursuing cross-continental alliances with fundamentalist 'Ex-Gay' groups promoted by pretenders to religious ecstasy 'cures' in the United States. Similar alliances—uniting anti-Choice Protestant evangelicals and Roman Catholics, have, during the '90s, preceded Pell's appeals.
Placing Roman Catholicism in direct opposition to what strategist Pell ominously calls "The Gay Agenda" he naively imagines that his dogmatic Church stance is homophobia-free.
"Instead of accusing the churches of homophobia, which we condemn roundly," he says, adopting an ostrich's pose, " we should be seeking the real reason for youth suicide."
The "Gay Agenda", insists Pell, is contrary to Christian teaching. It supposedly hopes:
To induce Christian churches to reject the Old and New Testament teaching against homosexual activity;
To brand all criticism as homophobia;
To lay the blame for the suicide of homosexuals anywhere except in the homosexual community;
To give same-sex partnerships legal status equal to marriage with rights to adoption and government-subsidized IVF children;
To silence public discussion of health risks;
To lower the age of consent, and recruit new members to the subculture.
Refusing to give up on his much-criticized claim that homosexuality, because of AIDS, is a health hazard worse than smoking, the Archbishop charged ahead in spite of overwhelming figures that had been published to prove him inexcusably wrong.
"But it remains equally true that one sexual encounter can cause AIDS," he pressed, " while one has to smoke for a long time for cancer to develop."
He issued a bitter complaint about media coverage: "My mentioning the health risks of homosexual activity was also rejected as "misinformed" and "regrettable"; a quaint throwback to almost Victorian reticence," he said.
Complaining even about the hospitable newspaper in which he published his self-serving remarks, an ungrateful Archbishop Pell said he would suggest that " The Age editorial team also has some way to travel."
In case Archbishop Pell's viciousness is thought to be an Aussie anomaly, a latter sent by the Vatican, intercepted and published in The Washington Post (1994) should make it clear that he's only been following orders.
This Vatican letter ordered American bishops to oppose legislation that promotes civil rights for gay men and lesbians while labeling same-sex love-making--in opposition to the American Psychiatric Association's assessment-- "an objective disorder."
The Post said that the Roman Catholic Church in this directive had declared its support "for discrimination against gay people in such areas as public housing, family and military personnel."
The Vatican, the Post continued, insinuates that all homosexuals are mentally ill and insists that the denial of rights to gays will promote family values.
"The church has the responsibility," says the Vatican's letter, "to promote public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values." The rights to housing and employment, continues the missive, are not absolute, and employment, curiously, is "a privilege."
Sounds like the Republicans.
Archbishop Pell, who no doubt rose to his position in the church as a believer, though not a thinker nor as a free agent, is in the employ of the Vatican.
So, if the good Archbishop stumbles with his awkward debating style into those indefensible territories that too often have made Roman Catholicism seem a product of the Dark Ages, he must expect to be critiqued and ridiculed.
Jack Nichols is author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, Inc.) GayToday's readers may order this book for $18.87, a 30% discount off of the regular price of $24.95. Of this book Dr. Rodger Streitmatter, author of Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay & Lesbian Press in America, says: "Jack Nichols' intense passion and graceful writing style combine to create rousing messages reminiscent of the inspirational words written by Thomas Paine two centuries ago." To order The Gay Agenda on-line explain that you would like a GayToday reader's discount: firstname.lastname@example.org