Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Silvio Berlusconi on the Superiority of Loving Women Rather than Gays: More on the Self-Inflicted Damage of Catholic Heterosexism

I wrote yesterday (and I keep writing sentences like these on this blog),

And we're being asked [by Catholic magisterial teaching] to believe that those who have penises, and who are inclined to use them in a "normal" and right way--that is, those who are heterosexuals--set the standard by which those who are not heterosexual are to be judged.  Now matter how blatantly their lives transgress all rubrics of Catholic ethical teaching in all other respects.

And like clockwork along comes the redoubtable Catholic prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, the gift that keeps on giving to political commentators, to say that, though it has now been revealed he has had yet another affair, this time with a 17-year old Moroccan runaway named Ruby, it's "better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay."  And predictably, Berlusconi's defenders are saying he didn't mean, of course, to offend either women or gays.

The point I want to make here is that Berlusconi is not voicing some position that is an aberration of Catholic teaching, when he boasts that, even if he is a serial adulterer, at least he cavorts with women (even underage girls), and it's "better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay."  Berlusconi is voicing the Catholic position on these matters. 

It was the Vatican, after all, that put Mr. Berlusconi into office, when the previous center-left government of Italy showed signs of being soft on civil unions for same-sex couples.  Mr. Berlusconi had the blessing of the Vatican because he represents traditional Catholic family values--heterosexist family values in which men rule and women obey.  And so, though the Italian prime minister has bounced from one sordid sex scandal to another throughout his career, and though his now wife (there was a previous one) has filed for divorce after his very public dalliance with yet another underage girl, and though he divorced his first wife after having had a child by his now wife while married to the first one, in the summer of 2008, he and Pope Benedict issued a joint statement praising family values.

The solid family values of the Catholic church.  Which Mr. Berlusconi represents.

While no gay man or lesbian woman can possibly represent family values or the Catholic ideal for family life and sexual life as Mr. Berlusconi does.  Simply because he is born gay or she is born lesbian.

This is what I mean by writing yesterday, "It is impossible to overstate the crudeness, the downright silliness, of the worldview underlying Catholic magisterial teaching in the area of sexual ethics."  And, "It is not teaching designed to captivate the minds of anyone who thinks a great deal about much of anything at all, of anyone who is open to viewpoints beyond the narrow confines of a very parochial Catholicism."

This is the incalculable damage we continue to do to our church when we continue holding up male-dominative heterosexism--the preferential option for the heterosexual male--as our ideal for sexual life, when anyone with half a brain can see that many of the men who flaunt their heterosexual lifestyles with the blessing of the church do not in any shape, form, or fashion represent a wide range of Catholic values that are often represented admirably by gay and lesbian people and couples.

Who do not and cannot have the blessing of the church simply because they happen to have been born gay or lesbian.  While Silvio Berlusconi and Carl Paladino and Newt Gingrich and Deal Hudson do have the blessing of the church, and don't intend to let us forget that.

No comments: