Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Michael D'Antonio on Vatican Gay-Baiting As Shame for Catholic Church

Michael D'Antonio, author of Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal (NY: Macmillan, 2013) and winner of the Pulitzer prize, on Vatican gay-baiting and the shame it brings to the Catholic church: 

As in American politics, where every campaign season sees a revival of Republican race baiting, every twist and turn of the long-running Catholic sex abuse scandal brings another round of gay baiting. High churchmen and their supporters note that most victims are male, like the offending priests, and hastily conclude that the problem is homosexuality. Of course this claim ignores the fact that gay men are no more likely to abuse than heterosexual men, and avoids the fact that abuse is not about sexual relations but about criminal behavior enabled by the church itself.

D'Antonio focuses in particular on the recent statement of papabile Cardinal Peter Turkson that "blamed gays for the abuse scandal and said that Africa has not been affected by the crisis because an anti-homosexual cultural tradition 'has served to keep it out.'" D'Antonio replies:

There is so much wrong with Turkson's claims that it's difficult to know where to start. First, despite his denial, sexual abuse by priests is a problem in Africa, as cases in Kenya and Tanzania show. And as anyone who has studied the abuse crisis knows reporting abuse is far more difficult in the developing world, where access to the legal system can be difficult and so costly it is foreclosed to many victims. Finally, if some African societies do harshly stigmatize gay men and women, this is hardly to their credit. Anti-gay legislation and hate speech seen in countries such as Ghana and Uganda reflect the worst of these societies, not the best. (Turkson, The Huffington Post has reported, gave his support to legislation that would make gay relationships in Ghana a crime punishable, in soem cases, by death.) 

D'Antonio concludes:

Three decades after the first claims were made by children who were abused by a priest in Louisiana, the Catholic Church remains mired, not in sexual sin, but in the secrecy, narrow-mindedness and fear that have prevented the hierarchy from ending the scandal. The return to gay baiting shows that neither Cardinal Turkson nor certain anonymous talkers in the Curia will lead the hierarchy back to relevance. Catholics the world over pray the cardinals who select the next pope find someone with the moral maturity and courage to do the job.

And he's right.

The photo of Michael D'Antonio is from the LibraryThing website and is by B.D. Cohen, ADIOL.

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