Monday, June 13, 2016

Discussing Religious Roots of Anti-Gay Violence, and Engaging Official Catholic Statements about the Orlando Atrocities: Five Points About Making LGBTQ People Invisible Even in Death

Francis DeBernardo notes that, following yesterday's heinous massacre of 50 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, both the Vatican and the leader of the U.S. Catholic bishops Archbishop Joseph Kurtz released statements condemning the violence — but neither statement could bring itself to mention the simple, plain, obvious truth that those targeted were LGBTQ human beings. Both statements speak in vanilla generic terms about addressing the roots of violence in incidents like this.

But neither engages homophobia and Catholic complicity in homophobia. At a time in which LGBTQ employees of Catholic institutions are fired on a persistent basis because they are LGBTQ, and their human dignity is violated in a very gross way by these actions, and at a time in which the U.S. Catholic bishops have spent countless thousands of dollars seeking to twist the political process to deny rights to LGBTQ people, Archbishop Kurtz's statement speaks of the need of the church to recognize the dignity of every human person. Francis DeBernardo writes, 

Clearly the targeting of a gay nightclub shows that, homophobia is a major factor which causes "terrible and absurd violence." This attack highlights the fact that around the globe, every day, LGBT people face oppression, intimidation, and violence. Homophobic and transphobic attitudes and behaviors are carried out all-too-commonly in the form of discriminatory practices, verbal abuse, bullying, imprisonment, physical and sexual abuse, torture, and death. In many cases, this brutality is sanctioned by governments and religious leaders who propagate homophobic and transphobic messages. The Vatican and other church leaders have yet to speak clearly and definitively on these contemporary issues despite the fact that official church teaching would support condemnations of these hate-filled messages, practices, and laws.

And then he concludes,

The Orlando murders should move all Catholic leaders to reflect on how their silence about homophobic and transphobic attitudes and violence contributes to behaviors which treat LGBT people as less than human and deserving of punishment.  This sad moment in our history should become a time when Catholic leaders speak loudly and clearly, with one voice, that attacks on LGBT people must stop. 

I agree, and I'd like to make five points about the discussion that has ensued following the events in Orlando: 

1. It is nice that Pope Francis and the leader of the U.S. Catholic bishops Archbishop Kurtz released a statement condemning the violence in Orlando. But it is highly offensive that neither mentioned that those targeted by this violence are LGBT human beings.

2. Maintaining silence about the fact that LGBT human beings have been murdered in an act of mass murder fueled by religious hatred is a form of complicity in the violence.

3. The endless statements by people who have helped create the conditions for this heinous violence by egging on bigotry and religiously motivated homophobia and resisting gun-control regulations that they'll now pray for the LGBT community are equally offensive — and insincere and self-serving.

4. The meme making its way around social media, that this act of mass murder can't be compared to, say, the massacre of native Americans at Wounded Knee, is also offensive. The point that has been made about Orlando is that it's the largest massacre of a group of citizens by a single shooter, the deadliest mass shooting — not that it's a larger massacre of a group than some other events in American history.

5. The question to be asked about this meme: what makes people so insensitive that they do not even allow a group of people to mourn when their group members have been slaughtered by a gunman in this way, and when they want immediately to play the suffering of one marginalized, abused community against the suffering of another marginalized, abused community?

(Sincere thanks to Chris Morley for also noting yesterday that neither the Vatican statement nor Archbishop Kurtz's statement dared even speak of LGBTQ human beings.)

The graphic at the head of the posting is used at many different sites online, and I myself have used it here in the past. I have not seen any indicator of its original source.

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