Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More on Predictions for Blood in France as Marriage Equality Is Enacted: Cardinal Vingt-Trois's Unhelpful Analysis

Cardinal André Vingt-Trois

Anti-marriage equality comedian-activist Frijide Bardot has declared that France shall have blood as a result of same-sex marriage, and in his final address to the French bishops, the outgoing head of the French bishops' conference Cardinal André Vingt-Trois lays the blood to come at the feet of the French government, and not at the feet of extremists of the political and religious right who are calling for violent protests against marriage equality. Henry Samuel reports on Cardinal Vingt-Trois' remarks for the Telegraph.

The publication Le Croix has placed the text of Cardinal Vingt-Trois's remarks online. He says quite specifically that those who are promoting an ideology that abolishes distinctions between the genders are imposing this ideology on society by violence, and the violence of governments driven by such ideologies then elicits violence in response from those who refuse to accept such ideologies. 

As I said in my response to the French bishops' document on marriage equality some months back, I regard the argument that marriage equality abolishes gender distinctions as a red-herring argument. Same-sex marriage isn't in the least about eradicating gender difference. It's about according equality under civil law to households headed by same-sex couples. How taking the step to accord such equality to same-sex couples either threatens biological gender distinctions or paves the way for societal violence is murky in the extreme for me. 

What I actually hear Cardinal Vingt-Trois saying is what I heard Cardinal Ratzinger saying in his fateful 1986 CDF document on the "pastoral care" of homosexual persons that defined gay human beings as intrinsically disordered in their very nature. The pope-to-be stated in that document (¶10) that while the Catholic church deplores violence against those who are gay, 

. . . the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.

In other words, come out of the closet, and you gay folks should expect violence--and we churchmen who claim to "love" you wash our hands of any bloody consequences your unwise decision to come out of the closet brings down on your heads. We absolve ourselves of any responsibility for eliciting the kind of anti-gay violence that Wilfred de Bruijn has just directly attributed to Ms. Barjot and the bishop of Avignon.

There's a mendaciousness about these claims that one's hands are clean of blood, isn't there, when one's own words and one's own ideology are stirring the very violence one claims to deplore? It seems to me that instead of jangling on about the bogus "violence" of laws granting same-sex couples the same rights opposite-sex couples enjoy in the area of civil marriage, Catholic pastoral leaders would be better advised to denounce the real violence of fascist thugs who think (and why shouldn't they?) that they have the blessing of those same hierarchical leaders as they stomp the face of a gay man into the pavement.

Or perhaps they should be ringing some warning bells about the well-documented attempts of the American (and largely Catholic and secretly funded) anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage to sow the seeds of social animosity in France that this group has sought already to sow in the U.S., where documents made public in lawsuits in Maine show that NOM has deliberately sought to set people of color and gay people against each other and to fan hostilities between the two communities.

Or perhaps they should be asking what would be an authentically pastoral response to the call of some Catholics like Pat Buchanan for civil disobedience to protest the extension of human rights to LGBT human beings. Or they should be wondering what signals they give to society at large when they defrock a priest for supporting marriage equality while a bishop like Robert Finn in Kansas City, who has been convicted of criminal behavior by shielding a priest possessing pornographic pictures of little girls, is allowed to continue sitting placidly on his episcopal throne after that criminal conviction.

Just saying. These are steps they might take if they expect people to take their moral counsel and ruminations about violence seriously, it seems to me.

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