April 22, 2005

The Pope & The Fuss

As Atrios points out, Spain has decided to legalize gay marriage, and the new Pope is tossing the Vatican into the fray suggesting that Spanish Catholics should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than cooperate.

This is undoubtedly the sort of penny ante behavior that contributors to this Salon article had in mind when some suggested that the church would suffer under Ratzinger. The best any of them had to say was to express a hope that Ratzinger would surprise everyone. Also, Andrew Sullivan again professes his shock, shock, I tell you!, that yet another of the conservative organizations he's put his trust in has demonstrated an unwillingness to lighten up. Dr. Matthew Fox, founder of Wisdom University and author of "Original Blessing" capped the article with this:

...Ratzinger does not support movements of justice, and has committed his career to silencing those who do. He is also committed to elevating the rich and powerful, such as Escriva, fascist sympathizer and founder of Opus Dei, to sainthood.

The real question I'd have here is why I should be interested at all in the moral proclamations of someone who's more worried about gay equality than support for fascism. If this Guardian column is a good read on the mood in Europe, this sort of attitude on the part of the church puts the German Ratzinger in the likely position of sharply decreasing the Vatican's relevancy on the continent in the way that a non-European advocate of social justice would not have done.

The church is also likely to be shooting itself in the foot with regard to its hold in America. After the pedophilia scandal made the news, and one of its chief enablers was promoted into a position of authority at the Vatican, a relationship already strained over reproductive rights issues isn't likely to get better. Via First Draft, there's even the news that a Republican-appointed Catholic judge is responsible for a ruling determining that gay marriage is constitutional in California. Some people are furious enough that the judge is now under constant guard, but I think his decision won't rankle the typical US Catholic.

I don't know enough to say how the new Pope's social intolerance will play in South America and Africa, where people are more likely to be socially conservative. But any points he may score may well be lost to the dawning horror of an AIDS epidemic and anger over disregard for social and economic justice. I wouldn't be surprised if church members in Africa and South America begin to wonder why, when their lives and economic well-being are on the line, that the church thinks the most important issue is whether or not some gay people they've never met can get married.

Frankly, it's a question that struggling people from all over, including the US, need to ask of ardent culture warriors who spend more time sniffing bedsheets than making sure that their constituents' basic needs are met.

Posted by natasha at April 22, 2005 08:45 AM | GLBT | Technorati links |

Great post!!

Posted by: PhilW at April 22, 2005 04:54 PM