And the Vatican's response to the news that Maine, Maryland, and Washington have chosen to permit civil marriage for gay citizens, while Minnesota voted down an amendment that would have inscribed anti-gay prejudice in its constitution--despite millions of dollars spent by the bishops and their allies to prevent these outcomes: we're winning the battle! As Alessandro Speciale notes at Religion News Service (via National Catholic Reporter), historian Lucetta Scaraffia proclaimed in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano on Friday that
[y]ou could say that the church, on this level, is bound to lose. But this is not the case.
Losing is winning. Somehow.
As Speciale points out, while the votes for marriage equality have come through in the U.S., the French government has introduced legislation that will permit marriage equality and adoption by same-sex couples, and Spain's Constitutional Court turned down an attempt to overturn that nation's 2005 law permitting gay couples to marry.
Losing is winning.
And these kinds of counterfactual, totally crazy assertions by Vatican spokespersons are calculated to provoke (and should provoke) responses like the following by Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin:
Forget all those election results you saw on Tuesday. Ignore what the legislature is doing in France. And as for Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and South Africa, they are inconsequential. And the Catholic countries of Portugal, Spain, Argentina and Mexico… oh, please, that’s just silly posturing.
Because none of that matters. The Vatican has declared that it is not losing the marriage battle.
And, as the Vatican digs further in, with its press director Fr. Federico Lombardi taunting the gay community (and the entire developed sector of the world) by sarcastically asking if we want polygamy and polyandry, too, responses like this from John Aravosis come along--as they should come along:
When you rape children, cover it, rape them again, cover it up, rape them again, finally get caught, still cover it up, apologize, recant your apology, then blame the victim, you have zero moral authority to lecture others about their supposed sins.
The intransigent defiance of men who don't have a leg to stand on baffles me, since I was taught from childhood forward that it's a point of honor and integrity to admit that you're wrong when you have been wrong. I was taught by my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles from as far back as I can remember that there's no shame and disgrace in being wrong: shame and disgrace--the lack of integrity and honor--enter the picture when you dig your heels in and try to turn red into green and wrong into right by denying and pretending that you cannot be mistaken.
And so when I hear these Vatican spokespersons blustering on defiantly about how losing is winning, and issuing their sarcastic taunts when a modicum of humility would be far more palatable, I can think only of Megyn Kelly asking Karl Rove on the Fox news set last Tuesday if his denial of the numbers staring him in the face in the Ohio vote count was "math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better."
And I think of Peggy Noonan writing the day prior to the election at the Wall Street Journal that a Romney win was on the horizon because, polls be damned, "All the vibrations are right"!
The Vatican as math Republicans do to make themselves feel better and right vibrations: this is a very strange place, indeed, for a religious tradition that once believed in the necessary coherence of religion and science, of revealed and natural truth, to end up. It's the kind of cul-de-sac into which people drive themselves (and anyone silly enough to listen to them) when the facts and truth are not running in the ideological direction they've adamantly predetermined facts and truth must run.
I seem to recall from my high-school and college study of Greek literature that there's a term for that attitude: it's called hubris. And if I remember correctly, hubris always blinds those determined not to pay careful attention to the world around them.
And sets them up for a hard fall.