Yesterday, I wrote that I wonder what Pope Francis will say at the World Meeting of Families this September, given that the Catholic archdiocese hosting this event is headed by an archbishop, Charles Chaput, who is an anti-gay culture warrior with a deplorable track record vis-a-vis the rights of LGBT human beings. Here's Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian-born Anglican priest who's with Political Research Associates, who has blown the whistle on the U.S. religious right's involvement in movements spreading anti-gay hatred in Africa, writing recently about the same topic:
Pope Francis is continually credited as being a much more "progressive" leader than many of his predecessors, but he has done nothing to oppose anti-LGBTQI laws in Africa, Russia, and Asia. Though celebrated as a champion of people's rights, Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of his conservative predecessor Benedict XVI, who condemned criminalization and dehumanization of sexual minorities while simultaneously blessing the Ugandan Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga in 2012—knowing that she had promised to pass the "Kill the Gays" bill into law.
As the World Meeting of Families draws near in Philadelphia, human rights advocates anxiously await a public statement from Pope Francis on human sexuality. If the event centers on the definition of "family values" promoted by U.S. Roman Catholic and evangelical conservatives, then the Pope's visit will further sanction the demonization, scapegoating, and persecution of LGBTQI individuals around the world. U.S. conservatives—from lesser-known characters like Matt McLaughlin and Scott Lively to big name leaders like Franklin Graham and Rick Warren—are awaiting the Pope's visit to advance their global anti-human rights agenda.
Given Francis's approach to these issues up to now, I don't hold much hope, to be honest, that he'll do anything more than parrot the kind of empty "family values" rhetoric, with its heavy emphasis on the obligation of men and women to obey biologically dictated gender commands, that has been the party line of the Catholic magisterium for some time now. As Kapya Kaoma notes, this party line — and its attendant silence about the oppression of LGBT human beings in places like Africa, Russia, and Asia — have had lethal consequences for those human beings.
Those consequences point to something more than a little disturbing about the magisterial approach to LGBT people, something that Rev. Kaoma calls hypocrisy. As he points out, while passing itself off as a staunch defender of the human rights of everyone, and, in particular, of those on the margins, the Catholic magisterium characteristically passes over in total silence the serious oppression being experienced by LGBT people in many places in the world. Nor does it admit the role the church itself, at an institutional level, plays in that oppression, a role that grows ever stronger as the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church ally themselves with other religious groups representing the hard misogynistic and homophobic right flank of the Christian churches today.
The hypocritical magisterial party line about these issues also provides cover for those influential American Catholic centrists who see no inconsistency at all about defending their right, as heterosexuals, to ignore church teaching re: use of contraceptives, while they combat the rights of gay people to a decent life and cite magisterial teaching to support their callous approach to those who are gay. The hypocrisy embedded in the magisterial party line, which pretends to defend the human rights of those on the margins but totally ignores the oppression of those who are gay and the collusion of the church in this oppression, gives cover to these American Catholic centrists as they present themselves as exemplars of Catholic values the rest of us should emulate as we go about our business as Catholics, while they actively assist in the immiseration of gay people and gay lives via their collusion with the religious and political right.
(I'm grateful to Peter Montgomery for the link to Kapya Kaoma's article in his end-of-week round-up of news about LGBT issues and religion at Religion Dispatches last week. For previous postings here featuring Kapya Kaoma, please click on his name in the labels beneath this posting.)
The photo of Kapya Kaoma is from the Political Research Associates website.