Saturday, September 18, 2010

John Allen on Britain's Equaliity Law: Catholic Concerns about Violating Catholic Teaching

Reporting today at National Catholic Reporter on Pope Benedict's meeting yesterday with Harriet Harman, a British political leader, John Allen writes:

That last meeting was seen as especially important, given that Harman was among the pioneers of an “Equality Law” adopted under the former Labor government and criticized by the pope last February. The law contains strong provisions for gay rights, which some Catholics believer [sic] could compel church-run institutions and individual believers in public roles to violate church teaching.

I wonder what John Allen means when he states that some Catholics believe that an equality law forbidding discrimination against gay persons in employment could lead Catholic institutions to violate Catholic teaching.

Is he referring to the section of the catechism (#2358) which states that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard [i.e., towards those who are gay] should be avoided"?

Or is he suggesting that the church would have to deal with questions about the disparity between how it treats its heterosexual and gay employees in Catholic institutions, if laws prohibit unjust targeting of the latter as a protected minority?  If equality laws are adopted, will Catholic institutions have to begin asking whether heterosexual employees masturbate, whether they use artificial contraception when they are married, whether they are divorced and remarried, whether they are engaging in extramarital or premarital sex?

It seems if Catholic institutions are unwilling to apply such standards, taken from the very set of sexual teachings used to condemn those who are gay, then Catholic institutions are overtly and grossly discriminating, when they fire or refuse to hire gay employees because those employees violate Catholic teaching.

Is Catholic teaching, then, all about the superiority of heterosexual human beings over gay ones?  Is that the Catholic teaching that John Allen is concerned about equality laws obscuring?

It seems worth asking, to me.  

The graphic is graffiti sprayed on the walls of the house of a gay resident of Malta a year ago.  The population of Malta is 98% Catholic.

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