Sep 23, 2010

Dying in Despair/The Pope and His Victims

 I've had to put Gay Mystic on hold for a while, due to personal pressures - among them the busy beginning of a new school year and a new drama production and work in progress on two writing projects. However, I continue to follow the 'news' from my favorite blogs, among them Queering the Church, On Bilgrimage, Enlightened Catholicism and Wild Reed.  I've pretty much ignored the Pope's recent visit to the UK, except for the updates and commentary, principally from Terrence Weldon, and William Lindsey. I was too disturbed by NCR's John Allen to pay him much mind. Benedict visited Prague last year about this time and once was enough for me. I was surprised to find myself so deeply moved by the sense of 'sacredness' surrounding the Petrine office (though I'm no believer in the jurisdictional authority of the Pope or the Vatican), while conflicted by the paradox of having such  a contradictory and divisive clerical bureaucrat as Joseph Ratzinger inhabiting the role. In a way, the limitations of the man and the distortions of the office in popular Catholic culture only highlighted for me the holiness of the symbol. Love the symbol, reject it's appropriation by the forces of reaction. Just today, at Queering the Church, Terry Weldon quoted from an eloquent 'cry of conscience'  directed at the Pope from openly gay priest Father Bernard Lynch, that I find to be among the most powerful of it's kind. Below are some selected passages which I found most moving. You can read the entire sermon and article here.


At the height of the Plague years your Holiness’s ‘Pastoral Care of Homosexual People’ document told us as LGBT people that we are ‘disordered in our nature’ and ‘evil in our love’ and the typical violence committed against us was ‘understandable if not acceptable.’ I was shocked and scandalised. I did not understand then and now how such teachings are consonant with the unconditional love of God given to us in Jesus Christ.

Many of the people in my care died in despair as a direct result of this document written by you. Its effect not only reverberated around the Catholic world but far beyond. Your teachings I know were and are used — both within the Catholic Church and outside of it — as a baton to attack every human and civil right sought after by LGBT people.

Justice demands that I speak out. ‘Silence equals death’ as my friend and fellow activist Larry Kramer said at the height of the AIDS pandemic. I speak not only for the living but most especially for those thousands of gay men who died in despair as a direct result of your Holiness’s words. 

As my Pope, I welcome you. I welcome you with hope that you ask forgiveness of those whom your words drove to despair. Most importantly I ask — I beg you in fact — to change immediately this totally dehumanising teaching. Thank you.


JD said...

Hope the school year has taken off to a good start Jayden. I like this post. One of the things I think I can appreciate most about your thought is your ability to separate the symbol from the person presently bearing it, and so still be moved by the splendor of the Church's traditions and rituals while remaining critical about the persons who administer them.

Psychologically, this is a difficult feat to accomplish for many of us- in either direction!