Friday, February 7, 2014

Catholic Families and Human Rights Institute Simultaneously Defends Putin's Anti-Gay Regime and Attacks U.N. Committee Report on Vatican: Making the Connections

In my posting earlier today about Jeff Sharlet on the lives of gay Russians, I linked to Peter Montgomery's latest Religion Dispatches roundup of weekly global news stories about LGBT rights. There's a detail in Montgomery's article to which I'd like to draw readers' attention:

As he notes, this past week, the World Congress of Families hosted a press conference in Washington, D.C., heaping praise on Russian president Vladimir Putin for his anti-gay policies permitting attacks on gay citizens of his nation. Montgomery points out that among those participating in this press conference praising Putin was Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Families and Human Rights Institute.

At the press conference, Ruse told the media,

They are doing some things that are very right [in Russia]. There is no right, there is no human right, to tell the gay narrative to school children.

In the same Religion Dispatches roundup of weekly news about LGBT rights, Montgomery also notes that Ruse has been in the news this week, too, for another reason: he's assisting the Vatican in attacking the report of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. As Conrad Noll pointed out in a comment here two days ago, Ruse's C-FAM group put a petition online immediately after the U.N. report came out, which maintains that the U.N. committee promotes a "false doctrine of human rights" that denies "what makes men truly human" by undermining "the inviolable dignity of the family."

I find it interesting that on the same day that Mr. Ruse appeared at a press conference in Russia D.C. to heap praise on legislation that has made the lives of gay citizens of Russia a living hell, he put a petition online attacking the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child with the claim that the committee promotes a "false doctrine" of human rights. If Putin's notion of human rights isn't a false doctrine of human rights, I'm at a loss to understand what is a false doctrine of human rights.

I want to note the linkage between Ruse's defense of Putin's laws enabling gay human beings in Russia to be tortured and killed, and his defense of the Vatican, for another reason: it is impossible, it seems to me, to disengage the political movement now attacking the U.N. report--a movement supported by some powerful big-name Catholic journalists--from Ruse's defense of a government that is openly permitting gay citizens of its nation to be murdered solely because they're gay.

At the press conference defending Putin, Ruse has helpfully spelled out for us just what he thinks Catholic values mean--and what human rights mean to Catholics who promote Catholic values. He spells out for us that human rights mean, for him and his Catholic group, that gay lives are dispensable, are worthless, are meaningless--that gay human beings have no right even to live. 

Many of the journalists now standing side-by-side with Ruse in defending the Vatican against the U.N. committee would deny that they hold any such position regarding gay rights. But there they are, standing side-by-side with Austin Ruse the defender of Catholic values, who has just told the media precisely what he means when he talks about Catholic values and human rights--the Catholic values and human rights he's promoting as he assists the Vatican in attacking the recent U.N. report.

There they are, these powerful Catholic journalists of the center who went to bat immediately to defend the Vatican against the U.N. committee, standing side-by-side with Austin Ruse, who also went to bat immediately for the same cause--on the very same day he stood before the media in D.C. to praise Putin and his anti-gay government. As the editorial of the New Jersey Star-Ledger regarding the U.N. committee report states, 

At its lowest point, the Vatican’s response accused the committee – a panel of independent experts on global children’s issues, not UN member states – of being co-opted by gay rights and gay marriage supporters. 
The clumsy retort shows that Pope Francis – who’s winning fans even among the world’s atheists for his commentary on emerging issues of gay rights and income inequality – hasn’t scratched the surface of the church’s Dark Ages mindset.

The editorial is exactly right. Unfortunately, though, when the issue is gay rights (and also the rights of women) that Dark Ages mindset is hardly confined to the fringes of the Catholic church: it still has an exceptionally powerful hold on some of the most powerful men in the world of Catholic journalism today, who want us to imagine that they are objective and measured as they defend "the" Catholic worldview. While they walk lockstep with people who defend the despicable, filthy Putin regime in Russia . . . . 

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